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FARTHEST NORTH BY MOTOR-CAR
A JOURNEY ON WHEELS BEYOND THE ARCTIC CIRCLE
BY HOWARD S. HAMILTON
a vague idea as to how we were to age straggled back when we discovered accomplish our object of making a record that there would be roads awaiting us in motoring toward the Farthest North. miles beyond the 67th parallel of latitude. Our program was to go to Stockholm by We learned, too, that the best objective way of Denmark, and then to skirt the point into Lapland was the mining settleshores of the Gulf of Bothnia, and, having ment of Malmberget, a few kilometers penetrated Lapland as far north as possi- north of Gellivare. Thus we constructed ble, to return south through Finland. We an itinerary, and on a favorable day in had arranged for a guide familiar with the June, 1910, much refreshed in spirit, tongues of the people we should encoun- we two and our polyglot guide set out ter; the rest w to be very much a matter from Stockholm on our novel trip. of good fortune.
Happily our confidence had not been Our easy passage through the Swedish misplaced so far as the roads were concustoms tended to encourage this irrespon- cerned, because, as the sequel showed, sibility. The entrance duty amounted to we had good, hard, and comparatively fifteen per cent. on the value of the car,- level surfaces nearly all the way. Of about $650,-a deposit to be returned to course there were exceptions. The first us on leaving the country. In addition, stretch of the journey, for instance, bethere was a charge of twenty-six kroner tween the capital and Upsala, and thence (seven dollars), of which ten kroner cov- to Gefle, was none too good. The roadered the official examination of the car, way was small, flat, and very dusty, the which we were amused to find consisted deep ruts giving us no end of steering of a perfunctory inquiry as to the num- trouble, as the narrow tread of the country ber of brakes we had and whether the car carts permitted us to keep only one wheel was safe on the road. After its four years in the worn groove, while the other laof good and faithful service in out-of-the- bored through the loose sand. way parts of Europe, we were able to give We arrived in Gefle on the occasion of our car a clean bill of health. The other the great midsummer holiday of the 21st sixteen kroner were for the license proper of June, encountering the usual holiday and two number-plates - red letters on a concomitant, the maximum of inconvewhite background.
nience to the stranger. As the town was We must have tempted the fates sorely enjoying a three-days festival, it was exfrom the very first. At the Stockholm tremely difficult to procure gasolene. After Automobile Club, people looked askance rummaging about, we finally found an at us, and shook their heads dubiously obliging paint-shopkeeper who provided a when they saw the big, high-powered car supply put up in twenty-liter cans, at fifty of long wheel-base with which we in- cents a gallon. Thus fortified, we started tended to penetrate the North, and which northward along the coast. had to carry a dead weight of more than The coast was a blessing to us. two tons along roads that were not of the sight of the sea, we managed to keep reabest and over bridges and ferries that were sonably cool, but the moment we headed not likely to prove equal to the task. At inland and lost the fan of the sea-breeze
we found ourselves cloaked in a heat which set at about eleven o'clock. From here even the motion of the car made it difficult we still had a long run to make before we for us to endure. Sometimes we were should reach the northern shore of the actually compelled to stop to cool off both Gulf of Bothnia, and we therefore took ourselves and the tires.
the wise precaution of providing our car Sweden has had a method of road main- the first extra supply of gasolene and oil. tenance which, aside from being unique, We purchased a sixty-five-liter can, and doubtless works out better in theory than we also filled up with an extra 210 liters. in practice. The care of the highway is Figured out on the basis of two and a supposed to devolve upon the owner of the half miles to the liter, some idea may be adjacent land. He is required to erect a gained of the amount we carried. But the
small wooden sign or a stone bearing his precautionary measures of the trip had not name in plain letters, so that he may be really begun there. Knowing that the suceasily reported in case of dereliction. But cess of most expeditions depends as much it was evident to us that few reports, if upon careful preparation as upon moral any, are ever sent in. Perhaps one of the "sand," we had given directions in Stockbest descriptions of Swedish roads is that holm to have an extra supply of shoes and they are "wavy,” a condition we found inner tubes shipped northward, and these very disagreeable, owing to the bouncing we eventually picked up at Lulea, which motion given to the tonneau, which was we made in four days from Sundsvall, certainly an imposition upon the springs. after many an adventure and mishap. It
As we fared into the Northland there is difficult to be much of a stoic when a was a noticeable difference in the length new spring-hanger does not fit and threatof the days. In Sundsvall, which we ens a mechanical collapse; and we confess reached in one day from Gefle, it was still to a bad quarter of an hour when we dusk at midnight, although the sun had caught sight of the pocket edition of the
POSTING-STATION OF HEDEN, NEAR THE ARCTIC CIRCLE
steam-ferry at Högsjö, which threatened the satisfaction of knowing that this opeto go to the bottom of the river if ever our ration had saved us a detour of at least trusty car was placed upon it. But a 150 miles. Everybody spoke English from friendly barge, in tow of the toy steamer, the captain down, and we still retain vivrelieved our despair, and after three hours idly a picture of his pretty, blonde daughof waiting, necessitated by unloading the ter offering us her welcome sympathy in barge of its original freight, we ran aboard our own tongue. and went on our way rejoicing. We had The next day was one of ill fortune and
ACROSS THE ARCTIC CIRCLE WITH NATIONAL AND CLUB FLAGS FLYING