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Still Waters

April 6, 1909: Peary Claims North Pole,

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1909: American explorer Robert Peary claims to have reached the geographic North Pole on this date. If true, it makes him the first person to attain “the Big Nail” (the English translation of the way Eskimos referred to the pole). That is, unless Frederick Cook got there a year earlier, as he claimed to have done.

Unlike the assault on the South Pole two-and-a-half years later, where Roald Amundsen provided ample evidence to support his claim of priority, attaining the North Pole was a muddled, even sordid, affair. The trouble started when Peary returned from his polar expedition only to learn that Cook was claiming to have reached the North Pole in April 1908.

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