In 1497, the Italian navigator John Cabot, sailing on behalf of England's Henry V11, led the first recorded attempt to find the Northwest Passage.
The Northwest Passage was a search for a route to Asia around the northern edge of North America.
A 1765 globe with a depiction of the Mississippi River and a fictional Northwest passage.
1644 Map of the "Poli Arctici"
William Edward Perry
English rear-admiral and Arctic explorer, William Edward Perry, attempted one of the earliest North Pole expeditions. In 1827, he reached 82
Sir Robert John Le Mesurier McClure
The Irish explorer reached the Arctic but pack ice forced him to abandon the ship in the spring of 1853, McClure and his crew were rescued and he eventually completed his journey across the Northwest Passage.
The Fram, 1895
Two Norwegian explorers, Fridtjof Nansen and Fredrik Hjalmar Johansen, headed for the Pole in April 1895 on skis after leaving Nansen's icebound ship Fram. The farthest they got was latitude 86
Peary Sledge Party and Flags at the Pole. 1909
Robert Peary laid claim to be the first person in recorded history to reach the North Pole on April 6, 1909. In the decades since, however, scholars have questioned have whether Peary and his team actually did make it to the Pole. Pictured are (left to right): Ooqueh, holding the Navy League flag; Ootah, holding the D.K.E. fraternity flag; Matthew Henson, holding the polar flag; Egingwah, holding the D.A.R. peace flag; and Seeglo, holding the Red Cross flag.
Knud Johan Victor Rasmussen
Knud Johan Victor Rasmussen of Greenland was the first person to cross the Northwest Passage by dog sled during an expedition between 1921 and 1924.
First Verified Overflight of the North Pole
On n May 12, 1926, the first verified overflight of the North Pole was registered from the airship Norge by Norwegian Roald Amundsen, the airship's designer and pilot Umberto Nobile and American explorer Lincoln Ellsworth,
George Hubert Wilkins
The Australian explorer George Hubert Wilkins outfitted a WW1 era submarine he renamed The Nautilus in preparation for an expedition to the North Pole. He set out in June 1931 but the venture was ultimately aborted because of mechanical trouble and the vessel was sent to its final ocean resting place, Nov. 20, 1931.
USS Nautilus during her initial sea trials, January 20, 1955.
Navigator's report: Nautilus, 90N, 19:15U, 3 August 1958, zero to North Pole
William Robert Anderson
William Robert Anderson commanded the Nautilus from 1957 to 1959. The Nautilus became the first submarine to sail successfully under the polar ice cap surrounding the North Pole on August 3, 1958. He later became a Congressman from Tennessee from 1965 to 1973.
The USS Nautilus is now docked at the U.S. Submarine Force Museum and Library, in Groton, Conn.
USS Skate Surfaces in the Arctic
Carrying the remains of George Hubert Wilkins, the USS Skate made it to the Arctic where it surfaced at the North Pole on March 17 1959 and scattered the explorer's ashes.
In May 2003, Pen Hadow became the first person to reach the North Pole alone and unaided from Canada. He had to be rescued by a plane after being stranded on a drifting ice floe for a week.
Nowadays expeditions to the North Pole are commonplace. In this photo, the USS Charlotte is pictured during its 2005 visit to the Pole.