Point Barrow, Arctic Ocean

Point Barrow, Alaska is an important geographical landmark, marking the limit between two marginal seas of the Arctic, the Chukchi Sea and the Beaufort Sea. It was named by English explorer Frederick William Beechey in 1826 for Sir John Barrow of the British Admiralty. The water around it is now ice-free for two or three months a year, but this was not the experience of the early explorers. Beechey could not reach it by ship and had to send a ship's boat ahead. In 1826 John Franklin tried to reach it from the east and was blocked by ice. In 1837 Thomas Simpson walked 50 miles west to Point Barrow after his boats were stopped by ice. In 1849 William Pullen rounded it in two whaleboats after sending two larger boats back west because of the ice. Point Barrow has been a jumping-off point for many Arctic expeditions, including the Canadian Arctic Expedition of 1913–1916. This was a scientific expedition in the Arctic Circle organized and led by Vilhjalmur Stefansson. The expedition was to be sponsored by the United States but Canada took over the funding because of the potential for discovery of new land. The expedition was divided into a Northern Party led by Stefansson, and a Southern Party led by R M. Anderson. Learn more about the expedition here, and about the Northern Party here. Click here to download the CoastView app and explore more of Point Barrow and the Arctic coastline.