Film-maker helps salvage relics of ill-starred Arctic quest

Noted Estonian film-maker Riho Vastik is helping to save a relic of one of the legendary doomed Arctic explorations of a century ago. Mr. Vastik stumbled across the legacy quite by chance. Several months ago, he was shooting an unrelated film in Siberia's Lena Delta. He soon heard the tale of the great expedition from Estonian lands that began in 1900, and of a cross marking the grave of one its doomed participants. A team of Russian experts was involved in salvaging the monument, which had fallen victim of flooding.

The ill-starred quest was none other than that of Baron Eduard von Toll, a Baltic German nobleman who had been educated in what is now Estonia's second city, Tartu, then a part of Tsarist Russia. In 1900 he set out to find the legendary Sannikov Island, supposedly an oasis of greenery and hot springs, which was believed to lie in the New Siberian archipelago. Although a seasoned explorer, Toll never returned.

Having discovered that a grave of the party's medic, Dr. Hermann Walter had endured, Mr. Vastik is now campaigning to save the cross and grave in conjunction with the Russian team, which has done formidable work in constructing a new grave nearby on less volatile territory.

Two expeditions were sent out in search of Baron Toll in the spring of 2003, but he was never found.

More info: ERR News

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