Just over a century ago, the steamship Roosevelt made two landmark Arctic voyages. Robert Peary’s North Pole expeditions of 1905-1906 and 1908-1909 relied completely on this "little black ship, solid, sturdy, compact, strong and resistant," as Peary described her. The ship steamed north through ice-choked channels and seas as far as it was possible to navigate. On the northeast shores of Ellesmere Island, the ship was deliberately frozen into the ice. From Cape Sheridan, expedition members made long sledge journeys over the frozen sea towards the North Pole.
During these voyages, SS Roosevelt and her crew confronted ice, fierce storms, damage to the ship, and equipment trouble. Yet the vessel, one of the first built specifically to push through ice, returned home safely. The Roosevelt is now recognized as one of the most successful Arctic vessels, combining strength and icebreaking capabilities.
Pictured above: SS Erik at Provision Point, Donald B. MacMillan, Etah, Northwest Greenland, 1913. Inkjet print. Gift of Donald and Miriam MacMillan.