Croker’s Mountains

An entire mountain range that never actually existed.

If you believe in something desperately enough, you can make it real. At least to you. That’s the main takeaway from today’s post. You can stop reading now. But then you’ll miss out on learning about an entire mountain range that never actually existed.

According to an article entitled How a Fake Mountain Range Slowed Down Arctic Exploration, a guy named John Ross, a British Naval officer, was sent out to find the Northwest Passage. The British Admiralty made it sound like it would be kind of fun. Find the entrance to the passage, cruise on over to the Bering Strait, report back to London, then head out to Hawaii for some R&R. Cool!

But of course, it wasn’t that easy. In June, his ships got trapped by icebergs. For about two months, the only progress they made was when the crew dragged the ships through the slush. In mid August they finally got to Baffin Bay, a large patch of water south of Greenland. They began to explore.

After a couple days exploring the area, they actually found the entrance to the Northwest Passage, but they didn’t know that, because when the fog cleared, Ross came up on deck, looked up, and saw a mountain range, which he named Croker’s Mountains, after somebody or other who was important at the time.

Now, nobody else saw these mountains. And many crew members attested to the fact that weather conditions were not amenable to some kind of mirage. No. Ross saw mountains because he expected to see them, and probably wanted to see them after months of icy misery. And so he declared the area impassible, and had the ship turn around.

The crew was extremely disappointed and frustrated. The next year, one of his former crew members, William Parry, returned to the area, and easily found the entrance, and no mountain range at all. The entrance is now called Parry Channel in his honor.

It’s safe to say Ross kicked himself for the rest of his life. But one has to wonder what really possessed the man to conjure up an entire mountain range out of thin air. That’s one impressive imagination, I have to say.

I once wrote this post about an island the size of Manhattan that had been on charts since 1772, and it was only discovered that the island never existed in 2013. I have a new theory. This island, which I vaguely remember as being off the coast of Australia, somehow broke free, and floated around the tip of Africa and up to Greenland, where it lodged in the entrance of the Northwest Passage. Then, sometime between Ross’ visit and Parry’s, it floated away again, to God only knows where.

I’m sure it’ll turn up eventually.


Like the way my weird mind works? Then you’ll enjoy my book!


Author: The View from a Drawbridge

I have been a bridgetender since 2001, and gives me plenty of time to think and observe the world.

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