Toll Edward Vasilyevich

Russian geologist, an outstanding Arctic explorer.
Born in Revel. In 1882, he graduated from Derpt (now Tartu) University, traveled as a naturalist in the Mediterranean, visited Algeria and the Balearic Islands.
In 1885–1886 Toll participated in the  led A.A. Bunge expedition Petersburg Academy of Sciences on the New Siberian Islands. He examined the islands of Bolshaya Lyakhovsky, Bunge Land, Faddeevsky, Kotelny, the western shore of the New Siberia Island. In the clear weather, from the northern coast of the Boiler Island, he saw, as he thought, “the contours of four mountains, which in the east were connected to lowland land”. Toll decided that this is Sannikov Land and since then has unconditionally believed in its existence. The dream of embarking on it determined all his further tragic fate.
In 1890, at the International Geographical Congress, Toll met with F. Nansen, who dedicated him to the plans of his expedition on "the Fram". Since then, their friendship began. At the request of Nansen, Toll organized the purchase and delivery to Khabarovo and Olenek of good sled dogs for his expedition, as well as during his expedition in 1893 he laid several food depots on the New Siberian Islands in case of the death of the Fram. For this assistance, the Norwegian government awarded Toll an order.
In 1893 he headed the geological expedition of the Petersburg Academy of Sciences to the northern regions of Yakutia, surveyed the space between the lower course of the Lena and Khatanga rivers and gave the first description of the plateau between the Anabar and Popigai rivers and the mountain ridge between the Olenek and Anabar rivers. Visited about. He visited Kotelny Island and again “saw” Sannikov Land. In 1894, the Imperial Russian Geographical Society awarded Toll the Przhevalsky medal.
In 1899, under the leadership of S.O. Makarov Toll participated in the navigation of the icebreaker "Ermak" to the shores of Spitsbergen.
The idea of reaching Sannikov Land did not leave him. On April 17, 1898, he spoke at the Imperial Russian Geographical Society with a plan of the expedition. In addition to the Russian scientists, Nansen was also present at this meeting. In the draft, which was published, Toll proposed to equip the expedition already in 1898–1899, for which he considered it necessary to send the ship to the mouth of the Lena and from there head to Sannikov Land, leave the people there for the winter and remove them next year. The attractiveness of the project was that Toll envisaged a comprehensive scientific study of the Arctic. In general, the project was supported by the Imperial Russian Geographical Society, its leader P.P. Semenov-Tian-Shansky sent a letter to the Academy of Sciences with a proposal to equip the expedition. It went slowly. Some time later, in the same year of 1898, Toll gave a report at the general meeting of the Academy of Sciences, where he proposed an expanded plan, which included two winterings and a more extensive study of the Novosibirsk islands. Academy of Sciences supported Toll and appealed to the Ministry of Finance with a request for an allocation. The letter indicated that "... the projected expedition of Baron Toll to the New Siberian Islands and Sannikov Land, in addition to scientific interest, is of great government importance, for which it is particularly desirable to implement it as soon as possible". Allocations in a very significant amount of 150 thousand rubles in gold were provided to Toll in a few weeks. This was evidence of Russia's serious attitude towards its northeastern possessions, which were increasingly attacked by foreigners. Toll’s expedition began a series of measures to protect Russia's national interests in Chukotka, Kolyma, and Kamchatka.
In the final version of the plan of the expedition, it was planned to reach Cape Chelyuskin in the first year and winterize the area. It was supposed to organize systematic magnetic and meteorological observations at the wintering site, as well as a detailed survey of the adjacent coast. The next year it was planned to devote to the search for Sannikov Land and survey the Novosibirsk Islands, after which the expedition was to go through the Bering Strait to Vladivostok. Toll stressed that “the expedition under the auspices of the Academy of Sciences is not limited to the desire to discover the small Sannikov Land. It sets itself serious scientific tasks, namely the conduct of hydrographic, meteorological, geophysical, geological and other types of observations".  
For the expedition, which together with the crew consisted of 20 people, on the recommendation of Nansen, in Norway purchased the sailing-steam bark “Harald Harfager”, which was renamed the yacht “Zarya”. It was a whaling vessel adapted for navigation in the northern seas. After the purchase, "Zarya" was rebuilt at the shipyard of Colin Archer and equipped for the purposes of the expedition.
In October 1899, "Zarya" was examined by the Norwegian bureau Veritas, which issued a long-distance certificate for three years. Toll was extremely happy. The dream of his life came true: he could start to Sannikov Land.
"Zarya" left St. Petersburg on June 21, 1900, rounded Scandinavia and reached the Kara Sea in early August. After a brief repair of the car on Dixon, we went to Cape Chelyuskin, simultaneously conducting scientific observations. The ice situation gradually deteriorated, and in the end the vessel was stopped by ice, and the expedition set up for the winter near the coasts of Taimyr in the Kolin-Archer bay, not reaching Cape Chelyuskin. Swimming in the ice led to an overrun of coal, with the result that it was left only for 20 days of swimming.
Wintering was successful, without serious diseases. Constant magnetic and meteorological observations were made, sleigh trips were made to survey the coast and nearby islands with the collection of scientific collections. Expedition Toll given more than 200 geographical names.
Only at the end of August “Zarya” got rid of ice captivity, on September 1, the traverses of Cape Chelyuskin passed. The crossing of the Laptev Sea was accompanied by numerous oceanographic stations, bringing researchers a large amount of unique scientific material. Having met the edge of perennial ice directly to the north of the New Siberian Islands, the ship began to move along it to the north. In the area of the expected location of Sannikov Land at 77° 09'N and 140° 23'E there was a huge field of pack ice hiding in thick fog. The De-Long Islands moved northward, suggesting finding a convenient wintering harbor there, from where it would be possible to make sledge trips on the ice in search of Sannikov Land. They walked in thick fog, gradually losing hope of seeing the islands, when suddenly in the fog break, Bennett Island was opened in full view, no more than 20 kilometers away. This event raised the mood of Toll, who had already begun to somewhat doubt the existence of Sannikov Earth: you can be near the earth and not notice it. The approach to the island was blocked by ice, the fog did not go away, the cold weather was approaching, the car needed repair, and Toll decided to go to Fr. Boiler for wintering. It was organized off the west coast of the island in the Nerpalah lagoon.
In winter, Toll traveled to the mainland for mail, and on his return he began to prepare a sleigh trip to Bennett Island, from where he intended to continue the search for Sannikov Land. He was well aware of the danger of his journey, but could not refuse him. The desire to get to this treasured land completely seized him. Ten years later, another Russian polar explorer G.Ya. Sedov will be obsessed with the same strong desire to reach the North Pole.


"Zaria" in the first winter of 1900-1901.

Toll in his cabin on the "Zaria"

(photo from the Wittenburg family archive)


On June 5, 1902, Toll, accompanied by astronomer F. Zeberg and industrialists V. Gorokhov and N. Dyakonov (Protodyakonov), left the wintering place. Zarya was supposed to remove them from Bennett Island in the fall. Since then, no one else saw them. Due to heavy ice it was not possible, not only to get to Bennett Island, but also to see it. An expedition without a boss arrived in Tiksi, where the vessel, abandoned by people, was left for the winter.
Admiral S.O. Makarov offered to immediately move to the rescue of the Toll group on the "Yermak", but was not supported. Most likely, this was the right decision, since it is unlikely that “Yermak” could accomplish what now only nuclear-powered icebreakers can do. In 1903, a search and rescue expedition was organized at the Dawn whitewash under the direction of A.V. Kolchak. After a hard and dangerous voyage, the sailors in August reached Bennett Island, where on the cape Emma found the houri and a bottle in it with notes of Toll and Zeberg. Toll's note began with the words "For those who are looking for us" and "Congratulations on coming".  From the notes it became known that travelers built a house in the south-east of the island, where there was a lot of fin. Moving along the coast, the sailors found four boxes with geological collections, then crossed the peninsula named after academician Chernyshev, and on the same day on the southern shore of the Pavel Keppen bay stumbled upon a small kitchen filled with frozen snow. In it, under a layer of snow and ice, Toll's note and various tools were found. The note turned out to be Toll's report addressed to the President of the Academy of Sciences. In it, Toll gave a description of his last trip, and also gave the results of a geological and zoological survey of the island - a striking example of scientific dedication. There were no reports of trips towards Sannikov Land in the report. The note concluded with the words “Let's go south today. We have provisions for 14-20 days. All are healthy ", indicating the coordinates - 76° 38' φ 149° 42' l and signed: “Paul Köppen ’s Lip of Bennet’s Island 26 X / 8.XI 1902 E. Toll”.  For the rescuers, the last lines of the report were the main ones. There are no doubts left: the Toll group died and, most likely, during a voyage through the Great Siberian wormwood on fragile canoes under polar night conditions.


Cape Emmeline - the north-eastern tip of the Emmeline Peninsula

(photo by N. M. Stolbov)

Cape Emmeline, Emmeline Peninsula

(view from helicopter)

Everybody who knew Toll had a natural question: “How could such an experienced polar explorer decide to cross the Siberian wormwood in November”? Moreover, before the start of the campaign, Toll, as one of the possible, considered the option of wintering on Bennett Island. The party was provided with housing and fuel, and on bright days there were all possibilities for preparing food. Now we can only guess about what happened. Most likely, Toll hoped for the arrival of the Dawn, and when he realized that she could not get through to the island, it was already too late to hunt: all living creatures migrated to the south. In the 40-degree frost the polynya is an insurmountable obstacle: it is impossible to walk on foot or on a kayak on the ice-water mass. Even it is impossible to approach the water, since the coastal ice that forms does not hold a person, but at the same time is hard enough to break through the kayak.
Russia has lost one of its best sons ahead of time. He made an outstanding contribution to the study and development of the Arctic, but did not realize his own cherished dream. Not implemented, because Sannikov Land turned out to be a beautiful myth. The likelihood of the existence of this land was not excluded until the second half of the 1930s. It is interesting to note that in the expedition of 1937 on the icebreaker steamer "Sadko" there was a group of L.F. Mukhanov, which was supposed to establish a meteorological station in Sannikov Land. The final point in this question was put only after this campaign "Sadko" and the flights of the Soviet polar pilots.
In the summer of 1973, one of the units of the Komsomolskaya Pravda expedition on the west coast of Taimyr found a food depot for the Russian Polar Expedition. Samples of the seized products (black rusks, oatmeal, canned meat, chocolate, tea, sugar, etc.) were transferred to the All-Union Scientific Research Institute of the canning and vegetable-drying industry, where they underwent physical and chemical analysis and tasting. The analyzes showed that the products that had lain in the permafrost for 73 years, basically retained their taste and nutritional value.
At the site of the last stop Toll on the island of Bennett, a hydrographic expedition of the Arctic Ocean in 1913 established a wooden cross, fortified with stones. On the cross is a copper plate with the inscription: “In memory of those who died in 1902, expedition leader Baron Eduard Toll, astronomer Friedrich Zeberg, conductors Vasily Gorokhov and Nikolai Protodyakonov. Hydro exp. North Ice. the ocean. 1913". In 1956, the AARI expedition strengthened the crooked cross with basalt boulders.

In August 2003, the Polar Historical-Memorial Expedition "Bennett-2003" installed a 5-meter Orthodox cross and a memorial plaque in honor of the centenary of the  Rescue Expedition A.V. Kolchak and his six satellites on the Bennet Island. The scientific leader of this expedition was a researcher at the Institute of Oceanology RAS. P.P. Shirshov A.A. Pershin.

In 2010, the expedition on the scientific expeditionary ship "Mikhail Somov" here was installed a memorial sign.


Memorable cross. 1913

(photo from the archive of N.I. Evgenov)

1956 Geologist D.A. Volnov at the memorial cross on Bennett Island

2011. Cross installed by the Sea Integrated Arctic Expedition in 2003

(photo by N. M. Stolbov)

2011. Memorial sign erected by the International Attestation Committee in 2010

(photo by N. M. Stolbov)

2011. Text on a memorial plaque.

(photo by N. M. Stolbov)

Toll's expedition is dedicated to a memorial plaque with its bas-relief, established by the decision of the USSR Academy of Sciences and the Government of the Yakut Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic on the Kotelny Island in 1928. The inscription: “Eduard Vasilyevich Toll entered the New Siberian Islands on May 2, 1886, died during the work of the Russian Polar Expedition when returning from Bennett Island in 1902, together with his valiant companions F.G. Zeberg, N. Dyakonov and V. Gorokhov. Academy of Sciences of the USSR. Yakut ASSR. Summer of 1928".


Monument E.V. Toll in the former estate of Toll "Kukruse". Delivered in 1909 on the initiative of the kind of scientist.

(photo by Adam Jõge. 2002)

Cape on the island of the Compass in the skins of Minin. Named in 1965 by V.A. Troitsky.
Mountains in the north-west of the northern island of Novaya Zemlya. Named in 1913 by G.Ya. Sedov.
The hill on the island Kotel'niy archipelago Novosibirsk Islands.

Mountain on the Bennett Island of the De Long archipelago. Named in 1903 by A.V. Kolchak.
Glaciers (three) in the valley of the river Toll in the mountains Byrranga on the Taimyr Peninsula. Named in 1967 by the Taimyr Expedition of the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute.
River (Toleva) on the northwestern bank of Taimyr. Named in 1967 by the Taymir Expedition of the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute.
River in the mountains Byrranga on the Taimyr Peninsula, a tributary of the river Klyuevka.

Bay north of the Oscars on Taimyr Peninsula. Named by F. Nansen in 1893.
Bay in the southeast of the island Small Lyakhovsky archipelago Novosibirsk Islands.


Return to the main page