Shortcut Navigation:

March 7, 1912

amundsen09.jpg

As Amundsen Returns With Triumphant News, Scott Still Traveling South

Norwegians Bask In Victory As World Waits For Word From Scott: March 7, 1912

On March 7, 1912, while Scott and his men were struggling back across the Ross Ice Shelf, Roald Amundsen brought the Fram into the harbor of Hobart, Tasmania. He was still worried that the British might have somehow beaten him back from Antarctica and stolen his thunder by being first to announce a successful journey to the South Pole.

Amundsen knew that the race was not won until the world was informed, and when he learned that his rival's ship had not been seen, he set about announcing his news.

The first telegram he sent - in private code to prevent the news from leaking out - was to his brother Leon. Others soon followed, including coded cables to Fridtjof Nansen and King Haakon so that they'd be informed before the general public learned of the Norwegian's historic feat.

Leon Amundsen had arranged for both the London Daily Chronicle and the New York Times to publish exclusive stories. For a few weeks, as the Terra Nova sailed for New Zealand, the conquest of the South Pole belonged to Amundsen alone. But despite acceptance of Amundsen's victory, the world seemed to hold its breath, intent on waiting for theTerra Nova to come back from McMurdo Sound so that the whole story might be known.

No Word From Scott As Terra Nova Returns

When the ship finally arrived in New Zealand on April 1, she brought no news of a British victory, or even of accomplishment. All that could be said was that Scott's party had not returned in time to meet the Terra Nova before she sailed. This was not an immediate cause for alarm, as Scott had said all along that the pole party might be late returning. Privately, the Norwegians were convinced Scott had made it to the South Pole, but they were not so sure he had survived the journey home, given the season's harsh weather.

Amundsen Reaps Reward Of First-Place Finish

Meanwhile, Amundsen set out to do what he had always done after completing an expedition. He gave interviews, presented lectures, and wrote the book--in this case, simply called The South Pole. People all over the world were keen to hear his story, and he made good money from lecturing in venues as far afield as Australia, America and, of course, Britain. The audiences in the UK were polite, but small. This irritated Amundsen, who saw it as another example of British haughtiness.

As the months wore on and the new year began, excitement grew. Soon it would be February, 1913. The Terra Nova was expected to arrive again in New Zealand during that month, and the telegrams would begin to flash all over the world. What news would there be of Scott and his men?

American Museum of Natural History

Central Park West at 79th Street
New York, NY 10024-5192
Phone: 212-769-5100

Open daily from 10 am - 5:45 pm
except on Thanksgiving and Christmas
Maps and Directions

Enlighten Your Inbox

Stay informed about Museum news and research, events, and more!