Vladimir Rusanov’s 145th anniversary celebrated in Taimyr
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Vladimir Rusanov’s 145th anniversary celebrated in Taimyr

November 19, 2020

The story of his last expedition, which served as a plot for the Two Captains novel, is directly related to our peninsula.

#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. Vladimir Rusanov is an Arctic explorer, geologist, author of a number of scientific works, head of Russian scientific expeditions, including the one aboard the Hercules hunting schooner, which disappeared off the coast of Taimyr in 1912.

After the successful completion of the research, which secured the right for Russia to develop the coal deposits of Spitsbergen, the schooner headed for Novaya Zemlya and further to the Taimyr peninsula. The travelers reported about it in the last telegram dated August 18, 1912. On this connection with Hercules was cut off. The expedition disappeared. The brave conquerors of the North wrote another heroic but sad page in the history of the Arctic exploration.

Juliette Jean and Vladimir Rusanov

The Two Captains novel by Veniamin Kaverin added interest to the topic, since Vladimir Rusanov became the prototype of captain Tatarinov. Two Captains is a work of fiction, a fiction of the author, but the fact of the loss and the tragic romance of the Arctic exploration are taken from life, where the plot developed even more steeply.

In the book, Tatarinov’s wife Marya Vasilievna remains on the mainland, and Vladimir Rusanov’s fiancee, Frenchwoman Juliette Jean, a geologist and doctor, whom he met while studying at the Sorbonne University, went on a dangerous expedition with him. Rusanov wrote to his mother: “…Fate gave me a very smart, beautiful and young French woman, her name is Juliette Jean… She is well brought up, knows music, understands painting and knows foreign languages, especially English. For all that, she is not spoiled at all and knows how to work… To have such a wife is happiness, which not always and not everyone can have… I know that she will be a good wife and mother… Her knowledge is highly useful and necessary for me… The scientific importance of our match is invaluable, enormous”.

Hercules hunting schooner

Both, like all the crew members of the hunting schooner Hercules, perished in the endless icy expanses of the unpredictable North. The investigation into the fate of Rusanov and his bride was overgrown with various speculations and legends. According to one version, they reached Severnaya Zemlya and became the discoverers of this previously unexplored archipelago.

Attempts to find traces of the expedition were made several times. And only in 1934, off the western coast of Taimyr, on an island in the skerries of Minin (later called Hercules), scraps of clothing and a backpack, cartridges of various calibers, a camera, personal watches and documents of sailors from the Hercules were found. A month earlier, on one of the islands in the Mona archipelago, they had found a pillar lined with stones with the inscription Hercules, 1913 carved on it.

In the 1970s-1980s, eight attempts to find traces of Rusanov’s team were made by the polar expedition of the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper, led by Dmitry Shparo. Researchers from Orel tried to find traces of their fellow countryman and his bride. The Norilsk Expeditionary Club, created by geologists of Norilskgeologiya, were engaged in the search for several years. Reports on those voyages were published in the Zapolyarny Vestnik newspaper.

Today, the exposition of the Taimyr Museum of Local Lore presents materials about the life and work of Vladimir Rusanov and the work of his expedition to Spitsbergen.

Text: Tatiana Rychkova, Photo: open sources

November 19, 2020

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