Message in a Bottle Found 54 Years Later in Arctic
photo credit: (Denis Sarrazin / CEN-ArcticNet, Laval University)
A message in a bottle, buried 54 years ago under a rock cairn in a remote Arctic valley on Canada’s northernmost island, could well be the last written words from a promising young glaciologist and explorer from Pasadena.
The words from Paul T. Walker, penciled on July 10, 1959, were a simple request to measure the distance to a nearby ice shelf on Ward Hunt Island, and report them back to his laboratory at Ohio State University, or to his colleague, Albert Crary, in Cambridge, Mass.
But Walker, a 1956 Occidental College geology graduate, never returned to that Columbus, Ohio, laboratory. A massive stroke weeks later left him paralyzed. After a harrowing rescue by a bush pilot, Walker returned to his parents’ home in Pasadena, where he languished, paralyzed, until he died on Nov. 11, 1959. He was only 25 but had already been part of major expeditions near both poles.
Crary, who reached the North Pole in 1952, went on to an impressive career and led a mission to the South Pole in 1961. The U.S. Arctic Program’s Science and Engineering Center at McMurdo Bay, Antarctica, is named for him.