General, scenery: Jackson Insel belongs to the north of Franz-Josef-Land, which is not accessible in all summers, even with an icebreaker. The interior is almost completely glaciated. In the area of the two ice caps Vostok 5 (up to 480 m above sea level) and Vostok 6, not even peaks point through the ice masses, while elsewhere, some plateau-type tops and some rock edges are structuring the glacier regions. Mostly the ice stretches right down into the sea, but there are a few ice-free coastal zones and prominent capes.
Touristically, Jackson Island is visited almost only because of Cape Norway/Norvegia with the 1895/96 improvised wintering site of Nansen and Johannsen (see passage on Cape Norvegia further down).
History: The east of the island was sighted already by the TEGETTHOFF exploration tour on sledges under leader Payer in spring 1874, putting Cape Kremsmünster onto their map but assuming the island to be part of a larger landmass. The west was discovered during the extensive exploration work of the Jackson-Harmsworth expedition in spring 1895, which reached Cape Hugh Mill as its most northern point here.
Just a few months later, in August of the same year, Nansen and Johansen followed paddling between drift ice the yet unknown north part of western Jackson Island from Cape Helland (which they thoght to be the westernmost point of an assumed "Leigh Smith Island") via Cape Markham (today Mys Bistrova and Mys Ruchina) and Cape Hugh Mills to Cape Norvegia without knowing where exactly they were. Here, realizing that it was too late in the year for heading further for probably still far away Spitsbergen, they built their improvised overwintering shelter, which they left again in the following spring. After the coincidental meeting in 1896 with Jackson, which most likely saved their lifes, Nansen and he compared their mapping work, taking over the names fiven by Nansen to the areas in the high northeast of the archipelago, which Jackson had not seen. The wintering island was named Jackson Island after their saviour, while the promontory near their shelter received the name Cape Norway (Cape Norvegia), as Jackson until then had marked this point and several others until then only with alphabetic letters.
The north of the island was better mapped in parts by the STELLA POLARE expedition (1899/1900) under the leadership of Duke Luigi Amadeo di Savoia.
In spring 1902, an excursion of the Baldwin-Ziegler expedition reached Cape Norway for the first time from the Austria Sound in the east. It was the Fiala-Ziegler expedition, which in April 1904 managed to circle the whole island on sledges, thus finally determining its real proportions (including the understanding that the supposed Leigh Smith Island was in fact a northeastern part of Jackson Island - not to be mixed up with today´s Leigh Smith Island in the south of the archipelago, and naming Cape Støkken and Cape Ollier).
Name: the island is named after the british explorer Jackson, who discovered its west in spring 1895 and realized the island character, separated from its neighbours.
Touristic aspects - Cape Norvegia/Norway
Jackson Island is visited almost only because of the wintering site of Nansen and Johansen, where they stayed for wintering from August 26th 1895 to May 19th 1896 on their return voyage from their failed North Pole attempt. For this, they erected on a raised beach terrace under the steep slope a low rectangular wall of collected stones, while digging out the area between, thus creating a room about 6 feet high with the small entrance towards the sea, placed a driftwood log across as beam and used walrus hides as roof cover. Snow on top froze quickly, forming a strong and somewhat insulating roof. The entrance was extended by a low snow tunnel, with hides as doors on both ends. Hunting was successful, providing not only the walrus hides, but also plenty of meat - both put on weight over the winter, even though living conditions were most basic. Walrus fat served as fuel for cooking, light and also for keeping the interior at temperatures around the freezing point.
The site had its first touristic visit already in spring 1902 - by the Baldwin-Ziegler Expedition
What is still there: Of the shelter, the low stone wall, though somewhat collapsed into the interior, is still visible, as is the driftwood beam on top of it. Numerous polar bear and walrus bones, still there in the 1990s, have disappeared since then, unfortunately.
More dominating than the shelter itself, is the memorial sign put up by an official norwegian-russian research expedition only in 1996, fixed to a strong driftwood pole set up for this purpose. The sense of this seems questionable: this sign is clearly a visual change of the site on one side, while on the other side, there is probably no visitor to this remote place, who does not know about its historic context already before.
At least as unnecessary as this memorial are, however, the numerous imprint damages to the tundra, caused by helicopters landing right next to the historic site.
Helicopters should rather land about 200m further east, behind the small scree talus, to avoid damage to the immediate surroundings of the cultural heritage site.
Landing by Zodiac is possible at the stony beach right under the shelter ruin - provided this is possible regarding swell and local ice conditions. Up here, the sea is often ice-covered long into summer, making at least a landing difficult or maybe impossible.
Please do not:
> Climb onto the stone wall of the shelter (possibly causing further destruction or change)
> Enter the interior of the shelter (possibly damaging eventual objects still hidden under mosses)
> Other changes (by lifting up or rearranging objects, collecting souvenirs)
> Damage vegetation in the steep slopes by climbing.
Small isles around Jackson Island:
McGee Islands (Острова Мак-ги) - two isles far east along the southern shore of Jackson Island. The maximal extension of the larger one is about 1.2 km, rising to almost 60m. Between it and the shore of Jackson Island is the second isle: far smaller and low, slim in shape and only a few hundred metres long.
Querini Island (Остров Кверини), conic-shaped steep rocky island off the south coast in the west of Booth Channel, top at about 120m, diameter about 600m. Picture: see series further up this page.
Klik Rock (Ск. Кдык) - ca. 39 m high, 4 km west of Cape Norvegia (see picture)
Kit Island (Остров Кнт) northwest of Cape Mills, tiny rock island, ca. 15 m high (see picture)
Alexander Islands (Острова Александра) consisting of the skerries Sputnik (Остров Срутник, max. 20 m high,) and Mesametniy (Остров Мезамеютный, max. 28m high) (see picture) and Pervatschok Island (Остров Первачок, former original name Geelhuyden Island, max. ca. 38 m high and ca. 600 m in diameter)
Miriam Islands (Острова Мнрнам) - zwei low islands, measuring just a few hundred metres across, right off the north coast of Jackson Island in the western entrance of Backs Channel.