With Byrd at the Bottom of the World: The South Pole Expedition of 1928-1930
Antarctica, the vast frozen continent, eerily lit by a sun that never sets in the summer,
plunged into months of darkness in the winter ... for Richard E. Byrd, exploring the land
that had already taken the lives of many great adventurers was a challenge he could not
His 1928-1930 expedition was history in the making, and Norman Vaughan was there to see
it happen. Brought on to handle the expedition's sled dogs, the young Vaughan was in for
the adventure of a lifetime.
Admiral Byrd and his men attracted worldwide attention with their accomplishments: the
building of Little America, the first settlement on Antarctica; the discovery of Marie
Byrd Land; an important of Antarctic geography and geology; and the historic first flight
over the South Pole.
For Vaughan, it all began one day in September 1927 with a newspaper headline that read,
"Byrd to the South Pole." Vaughan persuaded Byrd to let him join the expedition
by agreeing to work without pay to get Byrd's dogs ready for the trip to Antarctica. He
spent a year training dogs, building cages and sleds, and assembling gear for a year on
The voyage to Antarctica was itself an adventure. Vaughan worked with the coal-shoveling
gang in the hold of the ship, spent thirty-six straight hours in the crow's nest spotting
icebergs, and had to solve a crisis with the dog food supply.
The expedition's arrival at the Ross Ice Barrier heralded a new set of challenges. Vaughan
and the other drivers spent three full months carrying 650 tons of construction materials
and supplies from the ships to Little America, nine miles inland.
Once settled in Little America, Vaughan and the others expected to peacefully wait out the
months of the long night. It was not to be, however. Another dog driver, jealous of Vaughan's
popularity, was plotting his murder! The tension brought on by the endless hours of darkness
led to conflicts among the men, and it was all Byrd could do to keep order.
When the sun returned, Vaughan set out with the geological party to explore land on which
no man had ever before set foot. The hundreds of miles of hard traveling took a toll on the
dogs, and Vaughan was forced to make hard choices.
Bad weather threatened to keep the expedition in Antarctica another year, but their luck
held, and as the freezing ice closed in behind them, their ship began the long voyage home.
Safely back in the United States, Vaughan had trouble adjusting to normal life. When Byrd
offered him an opportunity to join the second Antarctic expedition, Vaughan jumped at the
chance. But Byrd was continually changing the plans and focus of the expedition, largely
because of his unwillingness to share the limelight. In growing disillusionment, Vaughan
resigned from the expedition. Nevertheless, Vaughan and Byrd remained friends in the years
In With Byrd at the Bottom of the World, Vaughan vividly recounts this amazing series of
adventures. From the sublime to the ridiculous, nothing is left out. The historic moments,
the practical jokes, the jealousies and the affection among compatriots, the dangers of a
frozen and inhospitable continent, plus Vaughan's insights into Byrd's personality and place
in history - all are related with warmth and sincerity.
Read a preview of "My Life of Adventure"