cape horn

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The Dreaded “Land of Storms”: Rounding, Avoiding, and Cutting Out Cape Horn, 1526-1914

Before the completion of the U.S. transcontinental railroad (1869) and Panama Canal (1914) a major impediment to Euro-American exploration and colonization of Pacific lands was sailing around Cape Horn – the furthest-most point on the South American continent. The Spanish were the first to explore the region in 1526. In the late eighteenth century British and New England whalers began documenting extreme conditions while navigating the Drake Passage – the strait separating Antarctica from South America.

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