Frederick A. Cook

Frederick A. Cook, a pioneer American Polar explorer, was born in Hortonville, NY in 1865 and died in New Rochelle, NY in 1940. State historical markers are at his birthplace and near his remains in Forest Lawn, Buffalo, NY. Dr. Cook spent two decades in expeditions to both Polar regions and subarctic Alaska between 1891 and 1909. Many authorities acknowledge him as the discoverer of the geographical North Pole in 1908. He was the first American to spend forced winters in both the Antarctic and the Arctic and is credited with saving the “Belgica” expedition to the South Polar regions in 1897-99.

In 1906 Cook’s first reported ascent of Alaska’s Mt. McKinley (which he was the first to circumnavigate in 1903) was accepted, until a bitter controversy arose in late 1908 about Cook’s claim to having reached the North Pole on April 21, 1908. Cook was knighted by the King of the Belgians, and honored by geographical societies. He authored five books about his experiences.

Cook received a Presidential pardon for a federal conviction in 1923 involving Texas oil properties, which resulted in immense wealth for those who purchased them at a sheriff’s sale while Cook was in prison.

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