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Charles Dewitt Brower
(1863-1945)

 

 

Who could have guessed that a child born in the urban wilderness of New York city would go on to become the most famous citizen of the frozen Arctic wilderness? But fate had a strange destiny in store for Charles Brower, who arrived in the Arctic in the year 1885 aboard the good ship “Beda.” Though he had initially believed his would be a short stay among the ice floes, Brower opened his own whaling operation, the Cape Smythe Whaling and Trading Company, at Barrow, Alaska.
Yet Brower was no mere stock clerk. A keen observer of native culture, the transplanted New Yorker hired local Iñupiat crew members to lead his whale hunting expeditions. By closely following Iñupiat whaling and survival techniques, Charles Brower quickly became one of the most successful non-native whalers in Barrow. With business success assured, Brower then strengthened his ties to the local people by marrying Asinnataq, originally from the Shishmaref tribe, and thereafter raised a large family. Known as the “King of the Arctic,” Brower remained north of the Arctic Circle for the rest of his life and was the man whom most outside visitors contacted upon their arrival in Barrow. With his whaling station, store, and home still preserved in Barrow today, Brower, the New York boy who became an Arctic legend in his own time, remains a central figure in the history and culture of the frozen north.

Fifty Years below Zero
Charles Brower 

ISBN 1590480783


Brower had left San Francisco with the intention of making a short dash north on a whaling ship bound for the mythic Arctic Circle. 
Adventure had a way of following Charlie Brower. His initial landing turned into a fifty-year long ice-bound lifestyle. Once he stepped off the whaler and back onto dry, albeit frozen land, Brower took a job as master of the whaling station. But, though commerce brought him north, it was the people that helped keep him there for Charlie soon became fast friends with the native Inuit people. They taught him how to hunt seals on the ice, caribou on the tundra, and whales out on the sea. He learned their secrets, lived in their igloos, navigated in their kayaks and avoided being murdered in their feuds. Plus the young adventurer observed the great dramas of the Far North play out. He saw the last of the sailing ships disappear over the horizon, and watched the first airplane fly in.  
For fifty-seven years, through ice storms and northern lights, Charlie Brower maintained both this lonely outpost and his claim as “Uncle Sam’s most northerly citizen.” A book to remember, “Fifty Years Below Zero” is illustrated with photos by the author.
 

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