In summer 1875 A.Chekanovsky, a geologist, wrote in
his diary: "Here on August 26, 2001 we put our "chum"
(Eskimo hut) at the coast, at the beginning of the Cape
Tumul, the last cliff of the right shore of the Olenek
river, the place, rich with memories of the remote times.
Two miserable, darkened tombs rise above us at the steep
bank. Rotted boards of tombs are scattered by winter
storms near sunken graves. Among them there is a small,
plain, weathered but still solid cross. There are some
traces of the epitaph, and the legend is still alive
among the local citizens. This is the grave of the unfortunate
Pronchishchev and his courageous wife."
Vasily Vasieljevich Pronchishchev (1702–1736) was
the commander of one of the detachments of the Great
North Expedition. He was born in the Kaluzhskaia province
in the noble family, owing a small estate. In 1716 he
entered the Navigation school in Moscow. In 1717 he
was moved up to St. Petersburg to the Marine Academy.
He served at the Baltic and Caspian Seas. In 1733 he
was made a lieutenant and was appointed a commander
of the detachment of the Great North expedition.
The Great North expedition (1733–1743) (the official
name – the second Kamchatskaia expedition) under the
leadership of Vitus Bering, Captain-Commander and a
famous navigator, mapped the Russian territories. They
described all northern and eastern sea margins of Russia
from Arkhangelsk to Okhotsk, enormous inland spaces
of the East Siberia, the Kuril and the Aleutian Islands,
discovered the routes to Japan and America, collected
unique data about the nature and history of Siberia
and the Far East.
This was the greatest scientific expedition in the
whole history of the mankind. As a result of its activities
the borders of the Russian Empire were extended on three
parts of the world: Europe, Asia and America. During
the expedition the Russian ships "Saint Peter" and "Saint
Paul" under the command of Vitus Bering and Aleksey
Shiroki accomplished the first in the Russian history
Trans oceanic navigation, during which they reached
the shores of America.
The Great North expedition required attraction of enormous
financial resources and manpower. Thirteen ships, which
were built in Arkhangelsk, Tobolsk, Yakutsk and Okhotsk,
supplied seven research detachments. The detachments
were to a great extent provided with equipment and provisions,
the crews of the ships were entirely completed.
In June 1735 Vasily Pronchishchev on the ship "Yakutsk"
started from Yakutsk its sailing downstream the Lena
river. They sailed out in the open sea, and in August
they reached the mouth of the Olenek river, where they
stopped for spending the winter. In eleven months the
detachment continued the voyage. At the latitude 77
degrees 55' the passage of the route was blocked by
close pack ice and "Yakutsk" had to turn back.
Vasily Pronchishchev died on August 30 (September 10),
1736. Semyen I. Chelyuskin took command of the detachment.
Tatyana Feodorovna Pronchishchev (maiden name – Kondyreva)
(1710–1736) participated with her husband in this expedition
on her own free will and became the first woman polar
explorer in the world. In documents she was named as
a "wife of Sir Lieutenant". Only in 1982 scientists
managed to discover her genuine name (before it was
taken for granted that her name was Maria). She died
on September 12 (23) 1736 in fourteen days after the
death of her husband.