Adolf Henrik Lindstrom
1866-1939 - Biographical notes
1898-1902, Otto Sverdrup / Fram northwest Greenland, Arctic
/ Gjoa northwest passage expedition
Amundsen South Pole
17th May 1866 - 21st September 1939
Born in Hammerfest, Norway, Lindstrom took part in three of the most famous Norwegian expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic.
His family was poor and all including the three children of whom Adolf was the eldest worked from an early age. By the time he was 15, he was sailing on sealing ships out of Hammerfest working in the galley. By 20 he was working as an engineer in a factory in Lofoten but was soon back at sea again.
His first voyage of exploration was with legendary Norwegian explorers Fridtjof Nansen and Otto Sverdrup on the second Fram Expedition to Northwest Greenland and the islands of northern Canada from 1898-1902. He had previously been cook on the Fram for part of the homeward journey from Tromso in the north of Norway to Kristiana (now Oslo) in 1896 at the end of the first Fram expedition.
He followed this up by accompanying Roald Amundsen on the first ever transit of the Northwest Passage from the Atlantic to Pacific Oceans across the top of Arctic Canada and through the polar seas between 1903 and 1906. As well as cook on this journey, he was a field worker for the University of Oslo, collecting plants, animals and birds much of which was true pioneering work.
His mother died before Lindstrom could reach home again and he felt he had little cause to return home to Norway. For the next few years he took positions on a variety of ships from harbour to harbour which led to him being the first Norwegian to have sailed entirely around the American continents, both North and South. He spent 6 months in the American Navy as an able-bodied seaman, 2 years as a stoker, as well as a spell as a fisherman and some time as ships cook.
Amundsen sought him out again as cook for his next voyage, the third Fram expedition, 1910-11, when Amundsen and four others (though not Lindstrom) became the first to reach the South Pole. He stayed aboard the Fram after this expedition until it reached Norway again in 1914.
Within a few days of arriving back in Norway, he was signed up for another voyage on a ship the Eclipse owned by Otto Sverdrup and hired by the Russian Admiralty to search for a missing Russian expedition along the Siberian coast during 1914-15. 40-60 (depending on the source) starving men with signs of scurvy were found and brought aboard where Lindstrom's food saved them.
In 1915-16 he was back in Siberia on another expedition for a Norwegian businessman.
Lindstrom was not much of an active explorer rarely leaving the ship except to catch fresh meat such as seals, penguins, fish and other birds which were always much appreciated on long expeditions at a time when foodstuffs would have been mostly tinned, dried, salted etc. with (somewhat ironically) no frozen meat.
He was a lively man described as a great entertainer, good humoured and not prone to introspection, invaluable characteristics during the long dark polar winters which would bring down most of the rest of the crew at some time or other. No doubt with this in mind, Amundsen wrote about him in his diary in 1911, "He has rendered greater and more valuable services to the Norwegian polar expedition than any other man."
He was much complemented for his cooking abilities and could turn his hand to many other tasks being something of an accomplished handyman.
Lindstrom married Olga Johanne Olsen in Oslo on the 21st of March 1917 at the age of 51, she was 11 years his junior, a hairdresser and the owner of a perfumery, they settled in Oslo.
Amundsen invited Lindstrom to join his Maud expedition to the Northeast Passage but just as he was about to join the ship in 1918, Lindstrom had a stroke which left him with a paralysed left leg which brought his sea-going days to an end. He lectured regularly in Oslo about the expeditions he had been on. His wife died in 1930 and he moved into Thedor Henrichsen's Sailors' Home in Oslo at the age of 64.
Lindstrom was unable to take part in the celebrations for the 25th anniversary of the South Pole conquest in 1936 due to ill health. His health deteriorated further leaving him housebound, he died of heart failure on the 21st of September 1939.
Landmarks named after Adolf Henrik Lindstrom
Feature Name: Lindstrom
Description: A peak 2 mi NW of Mount Kristensen on the W side of Nilsen Plateau, in the Queen Maud Mountains. This naming preserves the spirit of Amundsen's commemoration of "Mount A. Lindstrom," a name applied in 1911 for an unidentifiable mountain in the general area.
Variant Name(s) - Mount A. Lindstrom
1906 - Lindstrom was made a knight of the Order of St. Olav "for bold nautical achievement." and the King's golden medal of merit, both for his part of the Gjoa expedition through the Northwest Passage.
1912 - Fram Medal and the South Pole Medal for his part in the expedition that reached the South Pole for the first time.
- I am concentrating on the Polar experiences of the men involved.
Any further information or pictures visitors may have will be gratefully received.
- Paul Ward, webmaster.
What are the chances that my ancestor was an unsung part of the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration?