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About Matthew Henson
sent to us by an 8-year-old from Pennsylvania

Matthew Henson was an orphan. By age twelve, Matthew was already a very hard worker. He walked from Washington, D.C. to Baltimore, Maryland to find work at the Baltimore harbor. During the next six years, Matthew learned as much as he could about ships. He loved to read, too. By the age of twenty, Matthew Henson was exploring places like Nicaragua and Greenland, but he always wanted to explore the northern most point on earth, the North Pole.

In 1909, the North Pole was one of the few places left on earth that had not been explored. On March 1, 1909, Matthew Henson left for the North Pole with a group of explorers. The explorers carried their supplies on sleds with long runners called sledges. The sledges were pulled by wild dogs. The men built igloos to sleep in. They had to cross thick sheets of ice, some perfectly smooth and some very bumpy and rough. Cracking ice would create lanes of water called leads. Some leads were almost impossible to cross. Sometimes the men would have to wait till the leads of water froze over to cross.

Since there was not an actual pole or monument marking where the North Pole was, the group of explorers had to use an instrument called a sextant to determine where they were. On April 6, 1909, Matthew Henson and his friend, Robert Peary, along with four Eskimos, reached the North Pole.

Just like Matthew Henson , I like adventure, too. Maybe someday I would like to explore the North Pole, too... except, I wouldn't want to travel on a sledge. Instead, I would like to go on the Russian ship called the Ice Breaker. It crushes ice up to150 feet thick all the way to the North Pole.

1) Matthew Henson by Jan Gleiter and Kathleen Thompson
2) "20/20" Episode on the North Pole by Hugh Downes

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