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Wednesday, 02 January 2019 18:17

On the Lighter Side: VIDEO: The Incredible Story of America's Lost 1939 Antarctic Snow Cruiser

Written by Gillian Carmoodie, AutoClassics
On the Lighter Side: VIDEO: The Incredible Story of America's Lost 1939 Antarctic Snow Cruiser © Autoclassics



The crew opted to settle in one location and covered the Snow Cruiser with packed ice and timbers to help the vehicle retain warmth. They were determined to keep going, but far from the frozen bubble the dogged team were residing in, larger concerns of the possibility of a second world war were detracting attention and funding away from the Snow Cruiser project.


Eventually it was decided that the Snow Cruiser would have to be abandoned and the team brought home. Reports say the Snow Cruiser was hidden inside its protective berth with thick sheets shrouding the tires. It was decided that the Snow Cruiser would have to wait until the horrors of global conflict had passed.


Unfortunately for the Snow Cruiser, the same enthusiasm for the project that had overseen its construction never returned; understandably so, given that some 420,000 Americans had perished throughout WWII. The eerie shadows of war took many years to lift, by which time the ambitious U.S. Antarctic Service program had largely been forgotten.


The Snow Cruiser was found twice after this time. In late 1946, an expedition team from the US Navy’s Operation Highjump found the relinquished vehicle and reported back. Apparently, all the Snow Cruiser would require to once again function was some basic servicing and the tires pumped back up.


Some twelve years later, the Snow Cruiser was once again discovered thanks to a marker pole, albeit hidden under several feet of snow. The 1958 expedition team dug down to the bottom of the wheels and were able to get inside, where they found magazines, papers and cigarettes from the original crew.


This was the last time the Snow Cruiser would be found. Later expeditions tried, but failed ,to find the aging relic of 1930s and 1940s Antarctic exploration. Geologists have suggested that the Snow Cruiser may have sunk to the bottom of the ocean after a significant chunk of the Ross Ice Shelf broke off in the mid-1960s. The eastern barrier section of this shelf was home to the Snow Cruiser’s berth and may have been lost as the break tore across Little America.


Elsewhere, some conspiracy theories have also emerged on the Snow Cruiser’s disappearance, including the possibility that the Soviet Union could have smuggled the vehicle out during the Cold War.

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