Greely Island (Ostrov Grili) - Franz Josef Land

Greely Island and neighbouring islands
Exciting discovery on August 28, 2012: Kane Lodge - the position matches the vague informations in the documents from the Baldwin-Ziegler expedition. But if these are indeed the remains of Kane Lodge, much has probably become the victim of massive coastal erosion.
Besides the 8-9 sledges and the fitting location, especially this wooden element indicates, that this indeed was Kane Lodge: similar elements were used by the Baldwin-Ziegler expedition also for their main base on Alger Island, which is threatened by coastal erosion, as well.
Possibly the most fascinating item of this discovery: 1-2 canvas-covered light expedition boats - like everything else threatened by progressing coastal erosion.


Öffnet einen internen Link im aktuellen Fenster Overview Franz Josef Land, map

General, landscape: Like its neighbours, Greely Island has been former plateau, carved by erosion into several connected heights. most of its 125 km² are hidden under ice, while for most of the coastline, glacier fronts and steep slopes or cliffs alternate. Only a few shore zones and some tops and steep slopes are free of ice. The highest elevation is the top of an ice-cap in the southern center of the island, 474m above sea level.

History: The east of the island was sighted and mapped already in April 1874 during the exploratory sledge tour from the TEGETTHOFF to the north of the archipelago under the leadership of Payer. However, he mistook the island and its neighbours as part of an assumed huge land mass ("Zichy Land"). Its island character was recognized only by the Baldwin Ziegler expedition (1901/02).
Kane Lodge: The Baldwin-Ziegler expedition (1901/02) installed its most important depot for the planned "dash to the pole" (intended for spring 1902) during late winter 1902 in the southwest of Greely Island, including even one of the octagonal mobile cabins made of prefabricated wooden elements, which the expedition had brougth with it to Franz Josef Land and had set it up first in the west of Opens internal link in current windowAlger Island, from where it then was moved to Greely Island. With this cabin, expedition leader Baldwin had more in mind than just a storage for supplies for the current expedition: being a freemason, he hoped that it could serve future projects of his organisation - and called it Kane Lodge, after his masonic lodge in New York (which in turn was named after arctic explorer Elisha Kane). As Baldwin failed to conduct his North Pole plans, the depot at Kane Lodge was never used by his expedition, but was of some help for the following Fiala-Ziegler expedition (1903-05) on its retreat southward after the loss of its expedition vessel at Teplitz Bay, Opens internal link in current windowRudolf Island. Afterwards, Kane Lodge seems to have had no more use and informations about its further fate is lacking.
Andreas Umbreit tried already as expedition leader of the SHOKHALSKIY expedition cruise in 2011, to find Kane Lodge again, based on the vague position informations available, which failed due to thick fog in the area. A second opportunity arose for him during the second cruise of the ORTELIUS to Franz Josef Land in summer 2012: on August 28th, an old depot could be spotted on a very narrow beach under a steep scree slope in a position on southwest Greely Island, which fits the informations from the Baldwin Ziegler Expedition. Also its objects seem to match - result of the survey with very limited time ashore: in addition to at least 8 wooden sledges, probably 1-2 canvas-coated light boats and about 25 empty wooden cases, also a single wooden construction element was found, which looks very similar to those used in Camp Ziegler on Opens internal link in current windowAlger Island for the two cabins there. However, the site of the depot on Greely Island, as it looks today, is very ill-suited for such an important expedition depot including even a cabin, as it is just a very narrow beach zone, fully exposed to the forces of bigger waves and eventual ice pressure, as well as rockfall. A possible explanation (also for the absence of any further traces of the cabin and most of the provisions once stored in it) could be massive coastal erosion (similar to Camp Ziegler on Opens internal link in current windowAlger Island), which may have taken both the land and anything built and stored on it, during the 110 years, which passed since 1901. A photo of Kane Lodge taken in 1902, seems to show a much wider low land zone between shore and slope, thus supporting this explanation. Exposed as the site is now, it has to be expected that also the last parts of this depot will become victims of the erosive forces within a few years. The national park administration, immediately informed about the findings, did a quick own documentation of the site already in early September 2012, followed by fast first measures to give at least some of these valuable objects a future, which is not possible in their current situation.
Touristic visits:
Due to very limited space on the narrow beach under the steep scree slope in the depot area, the site is not suitable for landings with bigger groups.
See pictures and the detailed report:
Initiates file downloadReport to the Russian Arctic National Park by Andreas Umbreit about the possible finding of Kane Lodge
(13 pages, ca. 10 MB size - possibly long loading time).
Touristic visits to Kane Lodge: Due to very limited space next to the depot, the site is not suitable for landings of bigger groups.

Biology, wildlife: Lacking larger icefree flat areas, vegetation is mostly mosses and lichens on tops, rocks and slopes, with some limited areas of more growth under birdcliffs. There are a few smaller bird colonies on and under the cliffs, mainly Alle alle, Rissa tridactyla and Cepphus grylle.
Interestingly, the old reports of the Baldwin-Ziegler expedition mention good walrus hunting possibilities near Kane Lodge. Contrary to this, walrusses were hardly seen during the two visits of the ORTELIUS in the area in summer 2012. At the same time, flat beaches for resting walrusses are lacking. Possibly, the assumed coastal erosion of a former coastal lowland has not only destroyed Kane Lodge, but also the only good walrus haulout in the nearer surroundings.

Names: The island was named after the american polar explorer Adolphus Greely by the Baldwin-Ziegler Expedition, to which also the place names: Cape Baldwin (leader Baldwin-Ziegler Expedition 1901/02 - today Cape Gorodkova), Cape Bertrand and Cape Demorest (brother-in-law of William Ziegler, today Cape Anuchina) date back.

Tourism: Normally, the island is not used for landings, suitable shore areas are only few and limited in extension.






Foreground: southeast Greely Island, background: eastern Wiener-Neustadt Island.
Southwest of Greely Island.
Cape Demorest (now: Cape Anuchina) in the North and ...
Cape Baldwin (now: Cape Gorodina) in the Northwest corner,
southeast coast.

Scenery images Greely Insel

(click on image for larger version)

Last Modification: 18.02.2013