Thursday, March 15, 2012

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 30

Roald Amundsen's ship The Gjøa

This postcard sent to I.C. Lee by his friend Edward O. Cheasty in 1907 shows the ship Gjøa. The card was printed by Lowman and Hanford of Seattle and does not look as if it was intended as an advertisement for a men’s clothing store but it is being used to advertise men’s $4.00 shoes!

The note along the bottom of the card states “The Gjøa was the first vessel that made the great Northwest Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. Commanded by the hardy Norseman, Capt. Roald Amundsen.“ The journey was completed in 1906.

Up until 2009 the Gjøa was on display at the Norwegian Maritime Museum in Bygdøy, Oslo. In 2009 the Fram museum took over the exhibition. Flash pictures were not allowed when we visited the museum in 1982 so these pictures were dark to begin with and age has certainly not improved their quality. I share them mostly because I always like to see what things look like and found it interesting that we had actually seen and been on the ship.

Deck of the Gjøa

The Gjøa

Amundsen sailed this 70 by 20 ft ship built in 1872 with a crew of six. I suppose sailors are used to close quarters but I remember thinking at the time that this ship was quite small and wondering how crowded it must have seemed even with a crew of six since it took three years to complete the journey.

Following a five-month trial period spent sealing on the pack ice of the Barents Sea; Amundsen refitted the ship adding a 13 horsepower single screw marine paraffin motor instead of relying entirely on sails. He also upgraded the ice sheathing since he realized they would spend the winters iced in. His plan was to live off the resources of the land and sea reasoning that a small crew would fare better than a larger one.

They left Oslofjorden on 16 June 1903 making for the Labrador Sea west of Greenland. They spent the winters iced in and in 1905 Amundsen left the ship to ski 500 miles to Eagle, Alaska where he telegraphed the news of their progress. He returned to the ship in March but had to wait until July before they could set sail again due to the ice. They reached Nome, Alaska in August of 1906 and then on to San Francisco where they arrived in October about a month after the big earthquake where they were met with a hero’s welcome. Amundsen sold the ship in San Francisco where it was put on display at Golden Gate Park. In 1972 the ship was returned to Norway. The Gjøa also appeared in a 2005 documentary entitled “The Search for the Northwest Passage.”

For more history and pictures of the ship check outøa.

I had these other two postcards of Second Avenue and thought it would be fun if Cheasty’s Haberdashery could be located on one of them but even with a magnifying glass I was unsuccessful. Nevertheless they are from the same time period and are interesting since they show what the street looked like in the early 1900s. Note what looks like cobblestones or light colored bricks for the street pavement. There are very few remaining residential streets in Seattle where the road looks like this most have been repaved with cement or blacktop.

Second Avenue & James Street
[published by the Portland Postcard Company of Seattle, Washington & Portland, Oregon]

Second Avenue
[published by Paul C. Koeber & Company, New York City and Kirchheim, printed in Germany]

This old photograph is fun too since it shows a street scene that I think must be downtown (Seattle) also with a policeman in a “Keystone Cop” uniform and pedestrian as well as a horse drawn city laundry truck. Both the policeman and pedestrian look about the right size and shape to have been I.C. Lee, but how can we tell with those long overcoats? If I.C. is one of them that might explain why the picture was in the trunk with the old family photos.

Seattle street scene, early 1900s

No comments:

Post a Comment