Pole postcards...old and new  

Paul Siple's ceremonial POLE Old Pole was not very, well, how shall I say it, photogenic. I have more than one PBS/Discovery Channel video from the early seventies in which the photographers took great pains to conceal the fact that the dome was not finished yet. I acquired this postcard of the Ceremonial Pole at the original station during my 1972 visit to McM. The striped pole you see had originally been erected as a flagpole on the roof of the garage in 1957, the glass ball was furnished by Paul Siple himself. When I arrived at Pole in 1976 I saw this ball once, it was broken a few hours later. The striped pole was a bit shorter then, but it still had the flagpole pulley and rope attached...

Caption: "THE BOTTOM OF THE WORLD    Flags of the 16 Antarctic Treaty nations fly at the geographic SOUTH POLE, site of Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. These nations conduct scientific research throughout the Antarctic continent, one and a half times the size of the United States. (Official US Navy Photo)" The photo can be dated from the Antarctic Treaty, the 16th signer was the Netherlands in March 1967, the 17th signer was Romania in September 1971. In 1976-77 all of the Antarctic Treaty signatory nations' flags were still displayed around the Ceremonial Pole...since that got to be too much of a crowd, nowadays only the flags of the 12 original treaty signatories are displayed.

The Last Chance Saloon

This establishment at right was slated to be a very swinging night spot one more time during our 76-77 summer, but after the diner across the street burned down this place became a ghost town. Anyway, this modular structure with a false front was part of the construction camp built by the Seabees during 72-73 to house the construction crews building the "new" station. Before then the construction folks had lived in old pole, I can't imagine where. We never dug this building out, it remained for storage after we removed the rest of the unburned Jamesways, and it was demo'd a few years later. This was the source of the foosball table, but we didn't have enough room for the long shuffleboard...

Caption: "THE LAST CHANCE SALOON    The 'saloon' was constructed by members of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 71 as a recreational facility, while they were building the new American research station at the geographic South Pole. The station was dedicated January 9, 1975." (I'm guessing the photo was taken during the 74-75 summer...)

license to chill

Well, this is not quite a postcard, but the smaller edition of this license plate is about the same size. These were very popular ships store items in the 1970's--Task Force 43 was the original overall Navy command organization in charge of Operation Deep Freeze, first commanded by Admiral Dufek in 1956. A friend of mine reprinted these a few years ago so I was able to acquire one.

Ceremonial Pole

These next 2 postcards were made from film sent out just before the station closed in 1976. It's easy to date these because of the Bicentennial flag flying beneath the regular US flag on top of the dome. The glass ball shown here is the one that got broken the day we showed up in October 1976.

Back then there were fewer Antarctic treaty nations than at present, and we displayed the flags of all of the treaty nations, not just the original signers. John and I had a hard time ordering flags for this display!

Caption: "Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station houses the year-round facilities for the U. S. Antarctic Research Program activities at the geographic South Pole. Temperatures here range between -6F and -110F." The quoted temperature records quoted here and in the 1980 postcard below were in our 1977 H&N documentation but they do not match the then-current NOAA records...

Oh yes, a few days after I scanned the front side of this postcard, here's what the back looked like (thanks Tom Ehrenreich for "delivering" it)!

These 3 men were part of the '76 w/o crew. The two Kiwis in the yellow parkas in the above card are Bernard Maguire (left) and Barry Potter, they were with the NZ met service. The guy in the middle with the red parka is Mike Jefferson the SSL.

front of the station in 1976

The sign over the front door was grammatically incorrect for many years. The flag on the right is the Holmes & Narver flag, they had the NSF support contract in the 1970's (and were part of the 1990-2000 ASA joint venture).The people are the same folks as in the other postcard.

Caption: "South Pole Station, completed in 1975, is operated and maintained for the U. S. Antarctic Research Program by Holmes and Narver, Inc., of Anaheim, California."

the Geographic Pole sign 

Some people objected to the old postcards because they had people in them; others complained about the H&N flag. They sold well anyway, since they were the only ones available. The DV's didn't know any better...

This was the postcard on sale in the late '80's, although based on the lack of snow cover on the arches, the picture must have been a few years old by then. It was a bit more politically correct and up-to-date, at least until the USARP/USAP logo changed.

There have often been large signs like this at or near the real pole, along with the various types of survey markers. The pole is moving ever closer to the station (well, really, the other way around) so in November 1999 the taxiway was moved to its new permanent location, to accommodate new station construction as well as the encroaching line of survey markers...

Caption: "Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station houses the year-round facilities for the U. S. Antarctic Research Program activities at the geographic South Pole. Temperatures here range between -6F and -110F. It is supplied entirely by LC-130 airplanes from McMurdo Station. Photo by James E. Payne 75080-D" (sic) (That number may mean this picture was taken in 1980, this sign had replaced the 1977 one by then according to Mike Savage and the snowdrifts look about right.)

the dome entrance in the early 90's

This picture postcard showed up in the early 1990's, well, er, probably about the time that the sign over the front door finally got replaced!

postcard from Joel Michalski the ceremonial pole in 1999
On 19 November 1999 this showed up in my mailbox from Joel Michalski. Not bad service! The official APO postmark date was 6 November. The photo here has to be from before 96-97 because that is when BIT disappeared. Interesting sky contrast for a picture postcard--no blue sky and limited visibility. We had many days like this in 76-77, and we saved our film for the blue skies....

a unique view of the dome

Here is another one of the late 1990's postcards. Joel sent this one to Wisconsin where I obtained this electronic copy from Tom Ehrenreich. This is a rather different vantage point for a postcard, it appears that the photographer is standing on top of the biomed or fuel arch (!)...