In 1845, Sir John Franklin led the HMS Erebus, along with the HMS Terror, out of England and through the Canadian Arctic, only for the entire party of seafarers to never be seen again.
For years, Europe had been obsessed with finding the Northwest Passage, a pathway between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. It was a mission that took hundreds of men through ice-strewn waters and claimed many lives.
The Franklin Expedition seemed like their best shot yet at navigating the Passage. The two ships were built with special reinforcements to protect them from the ice and even equipped with steam engines in addition to the sails. What’s more, both ships carried a hefty supply of food, including livestock.
On May 19, 1845, the Erebus and Terror departed from Britain. About two months after setting sail, they were spotted in Baffin Bay, Canada. After that, they vanished, and no one ever saw any of the 129 crew members again.
In 1848, a search for the missing men was launched. Searchers stumbled across a handful of clues, such as a trio of graves and a note indicating that Franklin and 23 men had died. The vessel had been stuck in the ice for eighteen months, and the survivors had abandoned ship.
Various letters and an abandoned sled containing two skeletons and multiple personal items turned up. Oral accounts were gathered from local Inuit of men who had perished slowly, but nothing was definitive.
Finally, the mystery of the lost Franklin expedition was solved in 2014. A team of scientists located the remains of the Erebus, and two years later, the Terror was discovered in surprisingly good condition, several miles from the Erebus.
At first, experts were baffled because the shipwrecks were found miles away from where the 1848 note had said the ships were abandoned. Some researchers theorized that the ice had carried the vessels to the places where they sunk.
However they got there, the Erebus was discovered in the exact location that the Inuit had said. Perhaps the vessel could’ve been tracked down sooner had the British not dismissed the Inuit’s word.