Nothing to Report

Well, nothing much to report.

I went ahead and posted A Timeline of Crocker Land and Other Mapped Mirages of the Arctic. It’s interesting to see that Robert Peary’s “sighting” of Crocker Land had precedents, such as Plover Land and Keenan Land, and it wasn’t the last Arctic “phantom island” to be reported.

I’ll continue to tweak this timeline, but there’s already enough there to inch me toward thinking Peary wasn’t knowingly lying about Crocker Land in order to curry favor with one of his wealthiest supporters. That Peary was doing so seems to be the dominant view these days. Follow that “phantom island” link above, for instance, and you’ll see the Wikipedia page bluntly describes Crocker Land as: “A hoax invented by the famous Arctic explorer Robert E. Peary to gain more financial aid from George Crocker, one of his financial bankers.” (Ahem, shouldn’t that be “backers”?) I intend to write a page that explores this attempt to mind read Peary. There are good reasons to believe Peary intended to fool folks. And yet other Arctic explorers claimed to have seen distant land — and it turned out to be a mirage afterward. It is a thing.

Meanwhile, work on After the End of the Line: Railroad Hauntings in Literature and Lore proceeds, and I’ll have some big news about the next Vera Van Slyke Ghostly Mystery in a few weeks. Until then, please enjoy these three nineteenth-century illustrations for Washington Irving’s “A Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” In each, Icabod Crane is being chased out of town (and away from Katrina Van Tassel) by the Headless Horseman — or could that possibly be none other than our wily boy Brom Bones?

E. Hull from Cassel's Illustrated Readings
From Cassell’s Illustrated Readings. (This illustrator seems not to have read the story carefully. Irving gives good evidence it was a pumpkin or jack-o’-lantern, not an actual head, that had been thrown at Icabod.)
Leutze - Brom Bones and Icabod - Sketchbook 1865
From The Sketch Book
Harper's New Monthly 1876
From “The Romance of the Hudson,” Harper’s New Monthly

I had these illustrations on my computer and couldn’t figure out what exactly to do with them. Maybe someone else will.

— Tim

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