Taking on the North Pole: 500 Years of Exploration (Pictures)

Peary Sledge Party and Flags at the Pole. 1909 Wikipedia
Later this week, submarine buffs will mark the anniversary of the USS Nautilus becoming the first underwater vessel to navigate the waters of the North Pole. While this feat of American technological prowess became another chapter etched into the history of the Cold War competition between the United States and the Soviet Union, it also took its place as part of a longer, centuries-long quest by explorers to reach the Pole.

Starting in the 15th century, as various nations sent expeditions to seek out  new trading routes to Asia, the pursuit of the so-called northwest passage moved from land to water. Back then, a trek to the North Pole meant more than just a bout with adventure; it involved a brutal struggle to beat the elements. Indeed, more than a few explorers perished somewhere in the north's frozen stretches trying their luck and here's a look back at some of the names who annotated that incredible tale.