This is another one of my "AH-Lite" worlds (or as David Freitag put it, a "semi-permeable membrane" AH). Basically, I was reading a book on the history of Arctic explorations one day and came across this bit of information on Perry's 1906 expedition:

In June, at the end of the expedition, Perry was on Cape Thomas Hubbard - the north most point on Axel Heiberg Land - when he spotted about one-hundred and twenty miles to the northwest what he thought was another large island. Nothing too unusual in that: Arctic explorers had been finding new islands in the waters north of Canada for the last several decades.

Since this expedition was another flop as far as reaching the North Pole went, he named the island after one of his biggest sponsors, George Crocker, in what was probably a thinly disguised effort to insure he'd continue sponsoring him.

For no clearly defined reason I can discover, the public took to this new island and all sorts of weird theories started being spun about it. One of the more interesting was the proposal that this island was heated by volcanic activity and thus would have plants and animals and all sorts of weirdness, an "Arctic Atlantis," so to speak.

Well, I couldn't let that one pass up.

Unfortunately, Perry's "Crocker Land" proved to be but a phantom. Whether he'd seen clouds on the horizon, or an arctic mirage, or whether he just made the whole thing up out of a need for next years' funding, no one knows. But when the American History Museum expedition in 1913 got to the place where it was supposed to be they found nothing but pack-ice. They went a little farther - still nothing but ice.

So, like Freitag did with Kasyada, I shoehorned in another chunk of land on the globe. Mine's a bit smaller (about 200 x 75 miles) and sufficiently out of the way that it could have existed without stretching the probability of history proceeding as it did too much, but this is still very much AH-Lite.

Freitag did his land as a semi-utopic social experiment, more than anything else. Me, I had no such noble notions. What I wanted was an island that Burroughs would feel right at home writing about: Lost tribes, extinct animals, ancient civilizations, vast volcanic caverns, the works. But I wanted it also to be as realistic as possible, so that people who had more than a fourth grade education in physics, geology and/or biology wouldn't run screaming from the room.

My initial plan was to do a fake "history of" book on Crocker Land, but that pretty quickly bogged down. Since then, I've played with it occasionally, but only lately have come back to it in any serious way and that was because I got Bryce 3D and was able to start making all these cool graphics of the island.

What I'm going to show you at the moment is a few clips from the bogged-down book, a bit of wild description of life on the island, and some of those aforementioned "cool graphics."

(the following is the "Table of Contents" for the book. In a lot of ways, it give a good feel of what I was trying to accomplish in spite of the fact that I never did more than a tiny fraction of the stuff under those headings)

Table of Contents

FIRST STEPS: 1913 - 1929

Chapter 1 - The First Expedition

Chapter 2 - The Cross Disaster

Chapter 3 - The 2nd American Museum of Natural History Expedition

Chapter 4 - The Royal Navy Arrives

THE GOLDEN AGE: 1930 - 1939

Chapter 5 - The Royal Navy Returns

Chapter 6 - Amelia's Flight

Chapter 7 - "To The Center of the Earth!"

Chapter 8 - The Chart-Makers

THE WAR YEARS: 1940 - 1949

Chapter 9 - The Japanese "Invasion"

Chapter 10 - "Send in the Marines!"

Chapter 11 - Earhart Field, and other Comedies

Chapter 12 - Eruption!

THE DAWN OF SCIENCE: 1950 - 1959

Chapter 13 - Ross Station

Chapter 14 - "Have you considered asking them?"

Chapter 15 - "DEW" not Pass Go

Chapter 16 - The International Geophysical Year

MODERN TIMES: 1960 - 1975

Chapter 17 - "Why would you want that?"

Chapter 18 - "Alvin" and the Crocker Trench

Chapter 19 - "The City of the Dead"

Chapter 20 - "CLARI" - Crocker Land Arctic Research Institute


Chapter 21 - ?


Appendix A - The Geography

Appendix B - Flora & Fauna

Appendix C - The People

Appendix D - The Explorations

Some notes on above. The "First Steps" section was meant to be, obviously, a history of the early expeditions, complete with the obligatory Arctic Disaster (The "Cross" expedition). The "Royal Navy Arrives" chapter was to detail an expedition by an RN destroyer up a lead to the island (during an unusually warm summer) where it would get trapped in Crown Bay for two years (leading into the next section).

The "Golden Age" section covered the later expeditions. Amelia Earhart's flight to the island, the almost comical "San Francisco Hollow World Expedition," which would have been a small group of ill-prepared loonies, convinced that the route into the hollow interior of the Earth was to be found on Crocker Land, and finally some actual scientific study of the island and its first decent mapping.

The "War Years" would have the Japanese sending a small "invasion" force to the island (all fourteen of them) - mostly to see what the U.S. and British scientific expeditions there were doing - and the U.S.'s massively panicked overreaction, resulting in the creation of a military base and airfield on the island. This base would then be mostly covered when Mount Fitzhugh erupted in 1948.

In the 50's science starts to make a comeback on the island. The establishment of a permanent research base - Ross Station - and anthropologists finally make their appearance to talk to the natives, rather than speculating from five-thousand miles away at what they thought they believed/did (thus the sarcastic quote for the chapter heading: "Have you considered asking them?"). The military would be back as well as I have part of the "DEW Line" being built on the island (it would actually be perfect for that, but I digress).

In the 60's & 70's (the book would supposedly be "published" in 1975 - primarily because even when I was just doing the TOC, I kinda ran out of things I wanted to write about before I hit the 80's) we see explorations of the seas around the islands, the discovery (when a glacier retreats) of an ancient city that seems to have nothing to do with the Inuit tribes on the island, and the discovery of oil on the island - which changes the civilized world's views towards this far away land (thus the final section "And for the Future?" with a question mark).

The appendixes, I think, are self-explanatory...

(this next little bit of fun is from the very first chapter. It's on the American History Museum's expedition to Crocker Land. OTL, they found diddly - it's a little different here...)

Chapter 1 - The First Expedition

The American Natural History Museum Expedition of 1913-17 was the first set out with the express purpose of reaching Crocker Land. After setting out from [fill in details from book - adjust dates below to match]

Finally, just after the middle of May, they neared Crocker Land itself. The following is from Donald B. MacMillan's journal. After all these years, certain sections of this journal are no longer completely legible and the text in square brackets is the educated guesses we've made as to what was originally written.

April 21st - At noon took sighting, we are at nno north, nno west. After setting camp for the evening, I managed to sight Crocker Land from the top of a pressure ridge...Estimate another 30 miles or more to the foothills...A [clearing of] the fog surrounding the land allowed us to sketch details of the mountains before night set in, but the shoreline remained obscured by the heavy fog the whole time. We remain in high spirits. I estimate two more days until we reach land.

April 22nd - Another clearing of the fog gave us a glimpse of the land. We have discerned what appears to be a vast forest stretching along the south-facing slopes of the mountains ahead of us for as far as we can see. It may stretch the whole length of the southern coastline It neither grows too high up the mountains, nor too low, seemingly bound within a elevation of 200 to 2000 feet. I suspect the lower boundary to be the limit at which there is sufficient yearly sunlight, and the upper to be a temperature limit.

Crocker Land's Boreal Forest does indeed run the whole southern coast, and the altitude limits MacMillan estimated are very close to the actual ones - as are his reasons for those limits. The Boreal Forest may indeed be the single most unusual biom on the entire planet.

April 23rd - This morning soon after setting out the dogs began to howl and a long lead opened up in from of us. We moved back from it to a high spot to try and see [a way around] the lead. From there we could see that almost the entire remaining distance to land, which I estimate at about 2 miles, was [composed] of many leads which joined into open sea near the still fog hidden shore... After weighing the options, we [decided to head north in] an attempt to circumvent the open water.

The Crocker lead nearly encircles Crocker Land during the summertime - indeed, during very warm summers it has been possible to sail into it from the Bearing Strait. Even during the winter large sections of open water remain around the river stream mouths emptying into the sea.

April 28th - Still no way across the open water, but it appears to be narrowing. Today a heavy sulfur [smell] drifted to us from the land...My suspicions that it is volcanic heat which warms this place are growing.

May 4th - We lost a team of dogs and most of the equipment on one of the sleds that they were pulling when an ice bridge collapsed beneath them dropping them into the sea. [Erick was] able to salvage some of the supplies from the water, but much of what was dragged ashore was damaged or destroyed by sea water...Food supplies have been shortened, and we must [begin the] trek back no later than June 15th now, instead of the planned July 25th.

May 6th - Sun sighting [shows us at nno north, nno] west. We have found a large glacier issuing from the mountains of Crocker Land and spilling out to sea, filling the gap between the sea ice and the shore...If we can find a way through the pressure ridges, we have our bridge to Crocker Land!

MacMillan's expedition was very fortunate. Perry's Glacier was at the time experiencing a surge which enabled it to bridge the full width of the Crocker lead. By the next season, it had pulled back, leaving a morass of icebergs where the expedition's bridge had been. Only five times in the last 70 years has it been possible since to cross the glacier into Crocker Land.

May 10th - We have camped on the northwest edge of the glacier and the route to [shore] from here appears clear.

Tomorrow Crocker Land!

May 11th - [The Expedition] first stepped on the shores of Crocker Land at nno north, nno. The mountains here rise quickly from the gravel of the shore...Away from the glacier [temperatures are] in the high 30's to low 40's at mid-day...fog [swirls] around us constantly due to the warmth...[with]out snow, the sleds would be useless except for the [wheels we have] brought...We have set up a base camp alongside a stream. It issues from a steep cañon which provides [shelter for our] campsite. The water is palatable, but tastes faintly of sulfur like many hot [springs]...We treked 5 miles along the coast and have seen that the mountains become less steep and I feel they open up into a plain within 50 miles. We have chosen this way as to be our route into the heart of Crocker Land.

May 12th - We were [awakened last] night by the barking of the dogs and a roaring such as I have not heard before. We found our dogs to be in battle with a large white feline, not unlike a tiger in appearance, but smaller and stockier. Shots from our weapons frightened the beast off but we did not hit it. [We lost] two dogs...made our way along the shore from base camp. A second camp was set up at the 25 mile mark. Grasses have begun to appear along the shore on those areas not shaded by the mountains above us.

May 14th - We have reached the plains...[found] huge herds of caribou and musk-ox grazing on the tall grass...Many strange variations of normal northern plants exist on this plain and on one lone mountain we observed a large grove of trees at about the 1500 foot mark of its southern face. I have noted species from both Canada and Siberia here which suggests that Crocker Land may have once been a part [of the land] bridge between the two. [Erick] spotted another group of large brown animals about 5 miles away with the telescope, but he was unable to identify them. We plan to investigate tomorrow.

MacMillan's idea that Crocker Land had been part of the Bering land bridge found much favor with the scientists of the time. It wasn't until the late 1940's that geologists proved that it had always been an island and the land bridge theory faded (though Velikovski tried to revive it in the late '60s)...

And that's where I left it off (note: I never have worked out the exact degrees latitude/longitude, so that's why they are in "nn" format here. Maybe now that I've done the maps more accurately I'll get to it). There are lots of bits in [ ] marks. These were meant to suggest that the original expedition diary was in poor-ish shape, and the writers were putting in their own guesses of what was written there.

The island was meant to be surrounded by "Crocker Lead" - a strip of open water kept that way by the volcanic heat of the island. The problems of crossing this lead were to figure heavily in the "Cross Disaster" chapter. Occasionally, this lead would open up further, and connect with others from the Bering Strait - thus allowing the Royal Navy expedition. This would be rare, however, and no one would risk it until the Wood's Hole expedition in the mid-60's when they brought in the submersible "Alvin" to explore the trench on the north side of the island.

Crocker Land was meant to have some surviving Ice Age mammals - dwarf-mammoths, a distant (and much smaller) relation of the cave lion, and perhaps even a wooly rhino or two.

As you'll see on the "Vegetation Map" that follows, nearly half of the island is barren and/or glaciated and most of the rest is tundra/grassland mixed. There's also a special biome I came up with, the "Boreal Forest," which basically is a taiga-like forest that survives only because it is high enough on the south-facing slopes to get enough sunlight during the summer (Crocker Land is high above the Arctic Circle, after all).

The island is peopled by an offshoot of the Inuit. There culture would be pretty much similar to their continental brethren, but they would be more settled and would have some weird beliefs about the vast network of volcanic caverns on the island (some would go down quite deep). These beliefs would be the fuel for the "San Francisco Expedition" but I want it stated quite clearly now, I had no intention of any actually hollow Earth/Journey to the Center of the Earth style realities. Basically, I wanted them to be the "comedy relief" of the book.

There are also remains of another, earlier people that - amongst other things - built the "City of the Dead" discover in 1968. I never had a clear idea, really of who these people were supposed to be. But, darn it, I wanted a lost civilization.

Some test oil drilling would be done over those last couple of decades covered in the book, but as of 1975, while the oil crisis had brought interest in Crocker Land reserves to a fever pitch, no one had yet worked out the tiny problem of transport in any fashion an oil company would be willing to finance. While the book obviously wouldn't cover it, I suspect Crocker Land oil would still be there "now" because this really is a pretty insurmountable problem.

Following is three maps and a "picture" I did with Bryce 3D and two maps I did with Corel Photopaint of the island.

Crocker Land Elevation

Crocker Land Elevation
Crocker Land Geothermal Map

Crocker Land Geothermal Map
Crocker Land Vegitation

Crocker Land Vegetation
Boreal Forest at Crown Bay

Boreal Forest at Crown Bay
Where Is Crocker Land?

Where Is Crocker Land?

The Geothermal map shows that the island has five active and nine dormant volcanoes, and pretty much sits on top of an enormous Yellowstone-like geothermal hot spot (which ought - on further reflection - make it be sitting in an enormous "Super Volcano" caldera...but no one's thought of such things in 1975, so I'm safe not mentioning it in the "book"). This is what keeps the place as ice-free as it is, and it is pretty much littered with hot springs, geysers, and other Yellowstone-like thermal activity.

The "MacMillan Plains" are where the vast majority of the Inuit live - and also where the vast majority of the ice-age mammals live. The tribes there have a strange ("strange" in that it's necessary but you wouldn't expect it to exist) taboo against hunting these larger land herbivores, which is why they still exist. Whales, though, they're perfectly happy to hunt, and the place is a major whale destination point.