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Published: January 2009

Polar Saga Part One

Nansen

1,000 Days in the Ice

Norway's Fridtjof Nansen was a pioneer of polar exploration.

By Hampton Sides
Photograph by Fridtjof Nansen
Photograph courtesy National Library of Norway Picture Collection

Out in the cold fjord, on a spit of rocky land just a short ferry ride from the city center, Oslo has created a kind of national cemetery for famous ships. It's a Norwegian thing—what other country would build public crypts around its most beloved boats and enshrine them for the ages? Out here on the Bygdøy Peninsula, visitors can spend days rambling through splendid museums that house ancient Viking longships, 19th-century fishing vessels, even Thor Heyerdahl's famed balsa wood raft, the Kon-Tiki.

But the most striking of Oslo's nautical temples is a pointy glass-and-metal structure that rises from the waterline in the shape of an enormous letter A. Inside, basking in the filtered light, sleeps a sturdy wooden schooner, built in 1892, called the Fram.

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