Brief History of the Island’s Discovery
The existence of the island in this sector of the Atlantic Ocean was predicted by M. Lomonosov. In 1763, on the map of Polar regions, he showed a big island “Somnitelny” (Doubtful) to the North from Chukotka. The location of that island was quite close to the real Wrangel island. But aboriginal inhabitants of Chukotka, subjects of the Russian empire, had been aware of the island long before it was discovered by the Europeans. The first European who revealed the existence of the island was the lieutenant of Russian navy Ferdinand Petrovich Wrangel. He found out about this land from the elders of Chukotka. In 1821-1923 Wrangel undertook three expeditions into the ices in order to find this place. Every time large open water areas blocked the ships off the dry land. They couldn’t find the island, but Wrangel was sure that it existed and marked it on the map indicating correct latitude and moving it a little bit too much to the West.
In 1849 Capitan Kellett commanded the ship Herald that was sent in search for the Franklin’s lost expedition. He approached an unknown island and disembarked there giving the island the name of his ship. To the West of Herald island the seamen saw the mountain peaks and they assumed these were an island. But no further geographical investigations were carried out.
It is considered that the one who officially discovered the island was American whale hunter Thomas Long. Being aware of previous geographical investigations made by Wrangel he gave the island the name of Russian officer.
The first disembark by the Europeans was made only in 1881 – the members of the “Corwin” ship crew under the command of lieutenant Berry stepped on the dry-land of the island.
In 1911 the first Russian expedition reached the shores of the island by the ship “Vaygach”, they installed Russian flag there then in 1916 tsarist government declared island’s belonging to the Russian empire.
In 1924 gun-boat “Krasny oktyabr” (Red October) installed Soviet flag on the island and two years later Soviet government issued a resolution declaring sovereignty over Wrangel island.
In 1926 a permanent Soviet settlement was founded on the island under the resolution of Soviet government. The one who headed the settlement was the famous Russian researcher of the Arctic Georgy Ushakov. He organized a meteorological station thus initiating regular scientific investigations.
The majority of the pioneers on the island were the aboriginal inhabitants of Chokotka, who were moved to the island in order to enforce hunting for Arctic fox, walrus, Polar bear, White geese, Brant geese.
In 1948 a small group of domestic reindeer was brought to the island to organize a state farm. In addition to the main settlement in Rogers bay (Ushakovskoe village) in the 60s another village was erected in Somnitelnaya (Doubtful) bay that was given the name Zvezdny (Star). A military reserve unpaved airfield was constructed there (it was liquidated in the 70s). In addition a military radiolocation station was organized on Hawaii cape.
In the centre of the island, near the stream Khrustalny (Chrystal), rock crystal was produced. It required the foundation of a special settlement that was later destroyed.