Thursday, September 2, 2010

Pile The Kids In The Car!

Today you are introduced to the concept of the pole of inaccessibility. That is the point that, as you might imagine, is most difficult to reach because of its distance from geographical access points. If you're on land, it's the point furthest from sea; if you're at sea, it's the point furthest from land.

In North America, for example, the point of inaccessibility is this point in South Dakota, 1,024 miles from any coastline. It's not far from Badlands National Park, just west of Kyle and north of Porcupine, which is the last time for a good long while you will hear the names of either of those two towns. Not coincidentally, during the Cold War, ICBM missiles were clustered in the Dakotas, as well as the rest of the northern Plains, stretching from Montana to Missouri (which made it tougher to knock out all the sites at once), as it made logical sense to house them there when you were defending against an attack from a direction you weren't yet sure of. And also it was easier to acquire the land. And also nobody was living there anyway.

A much quirkier pole, though, is the Antarctic pole. One might think it little more than bragging rights to try and get to here. After all, the South Pole is the big prize. The pole of inaccessibility is obscure and nobody cares even if you do reach it. Why waste the extra energy?

So you can stick a big statue of Lenin on it, that's why.

In December 1958, a group of Soviet scientists were the first to reach the pole. Or if they weren't, nobody earlier cared, so they get squatters' rights to the title. They constructed a small cabin, and on top of the cabin, they stuck a plastic bust of Lenin. The cabin has since all but sunk beneath the snow, and further details are few and far between. Supposedly, if you can get into the cabin, there's a visitors' book to sign.

Henry Cookson, part of a three-man British party in 2007, did in fact dig, 20 feet down, and located the door.

It was locked.

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