Leffingwell Camp, Flaxman Island

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Leffingwell Camp, Flaxman Island

by | Jun 3, 2018

Flaxman Island is a barrier island, about 7 miles (11 km) long, between the Beaufort Sea and Lion Bay, about 58 miles (94 km) east of Deadhorse and 58 miles (94 km) west of Kaktovik, Alaska. The island was named on August 6, 1826, by Sir John Franklin for John Flaxman, an English sculptor, and draftsman. The Inupiat name for the island is “Sidrak”, reported in 1912 to mean “foxhole”, by Ernest Leffingwell.

The remains of the Leffingwell Camp are on Flaxman Island, about 58 miles (93 km) west of Barter Island. The camp was used by polar explorer and geologist Ernest de Koven Leffingwell during the Anglo-American Polar Expedition of 1906–1908. Leffingwell created the first accurate map for this section of the coastline. He was the first to scientifically describe permafrost, and to accurately identify the oil potential of the area. The expedition support ship, the Duchess of Bedford, was intentionally locked in sea ice and eventually crushed. The explorers salvaged the wood and built a cabin, the remains of which are now a National Historic Landmark.

Following the destruction of the Duchess of Bedford, the expedition was evacuated by Captain George B. Leavitt on the whaler Narwhal. Leffingwell subsequently named Leavitt Island and Narwhal Island on the Arctic coast of Alaska. Learn more about Leffingwell and the Polar Expedition here and here. Explore more of Flaxman Island and the Arctic coast here:

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