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The Lost Citie of ATLANTIS and the ENORMOUS CLAMM

Every Year the ENORMOUS CLAMM would demande Twelve of the Moste Beautiful Virgins, who woulde Stripp Naked and Dive into the Foaming Sea, where they woulde be Devoured by the Voracious Beast. One Year, however, one of the Virgins and her Younge Love Broke the Vowe of Chastity in a Fit of Youthfull Passione. The ENORMOUS CLAMM, Enraged, Ceased to Generate the Powerfull Psycho-Kinetick Field which Held the Citie Above the Waves. In a Daye and a Night Atlantis Sank into the Sea, and the ENORMOUS CLAMM Remaines There Still.

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The matter of the USS Tripoli and its supposed discovery of a man-made structure in the Antarctic has undergone much discussion in recent years, occasioned mainly by the first large-scale sattelite and undersea mapping of the Antarctic regions. While no evidence of any other unknown structures has been found before or since, the record remains ambiguous, and the facts confused. If the tower existed, who built it, and how? And if, more probably, it didn't, why and how was the evidence invented? These questions remain, but in light of the speculation and discussion ongoing in academic circles and in the broader realm of the internet I believe a concise, factual summary may be of some use. I, who am no expert but have perused the material, present below the events as found in the Ship's Log of the USS Tripoli, the diary of Captain S.C. Dumont, and to a lesser extent recorded testimony of the crew and other sources as indicated.

The USS Tripoli sighted the structure in question on the afternoon of August 8th, 1904, some 15 nautical miles off the Ross Ice Shelf in the Antarctic Ocean, built atop an ice flow of "medium size". The Captain of the Steamship, Samuel C. Dumont, writes in his personal diary that two dinghies were dispatched to investigate, and, docking on the flank of the ice-flow, reached the base of the structure at approximately 4:30 PM. Dumont, and several of the Sailors in later interviews, all describe the structure as resembling a Lighthouse, such those found on the New England Coast. In Dumont's estimation the tower was over 15 meters in height and 6 meters in diameter at its base, and made of a pale substance which Dumont does not name, but the sailors later described as resembling rough stone. There was no door or means to ascend the tower, and the lantern-room at the summit contained no visible light.

The Steamship remained in the vicinity of the structure and the ice-flow on which it was built for nearly 42 hours. In the morning of August 9th, under direction of Dumont, the crew scaled the tower by means of ropes and grappling hooks. In the lantern-room they found no traces of a light nor, in fact, anything at all - no passage leading into the tower and no remains of any device or contrivance which might once have stood in the platform.

At 2:45 PM, by Dumont's reckoning, the long Antarctic summer's-day began to darken. (Those sailors who were interviewed later disagreed as to exact time of the occurance, putting it variously at 3:00 and 4:30 PM.) Although no clouds could be seen, the sun appeared to fade and after half an hour stars were visible. This strange, unnatural dusk remained as the crew returned to the ship in fear, but lifted away again around 8:30 that evening (Dumont's reckoning). When the short Antarctic night had passed, there was no dawn. The sun, when it appeared, was pale and faint and shed no light. The USS Tripoli remained by the mysterious structure until midday, when Captain Dumont gave in to the urgings of his terrified crew. They sailed north, and into daylight.

Before going on to examine the evidence returned by the USS Tripoli, it is interesting here to note that others have likewise observed mysterious darknesses in the Antarctic. The ships of Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen and Edward Bransfield, who reached Antarctica within three days of each other in January 1820 both experienced unnatural dark. Bellingshausen writes in his ship's log that the day did not dawn on January 3rd, and that the 4th was dim. Bransfield's ship's log makes no mention of mysterious dark, but, curiously, the recently discovered journal of sailor Charles W. Poynter on Bransfield's brig Williams records that the ship sailed through total darkness between the 6th and the 9th. The Peru-based whaler Estaphan, also sailing off the Ross Ice Shelf in the summer of 1842, records that for three days the sun was not seen, and for four days after it was only a gray disk in the sky. Fifteen years later in 1857 a New Zealand whaling ship recorded several instances of mysterious dark in the Ross Sea.

In any case, the USS Tripoli returned to New Orleans with both photographs and rock samples chiseled from the base of the tower. Neither proved illuminating. Experts at the time were baffled by the samples; modern tests answer little. X-Ray crystalographic analysis shows the "pale stone" to be a crystaline matrix of pentahedral molecules composed of silicon and five oxygens, Si5O. The stability of this compound is rather mysterious - a cursory look at a periodic table will show the imbalances of the atomic bonds involved, and laboratory tests have been unable to duplicate the substance. Laboratory samples degenerate quickly into the more stable Si-(OH)4 or SiO2.

Photographs taken of the tower are equally baffling. To begin with, they could not be developed. Of the 48 photographs taken at the site all but one shows complete blackness. The one, taken apparently by mistake at extremely low exposure, is also mostly obscured by darkness, but the faint outline of an iceberg and the base of the tower are visible against the unnatural photographic night. The head of the tower remains obscured by a halo of shadow.

It is as if the "Lighthouse" eminates not light but radiant Dark, not in fact a lighthouse at all, but a Dark-House, built not to guide ships but to shroud the cold Antarctic waters in unnatural shadow, marking some unknown port or signaling some unknown vessel. And what ship would respond to that sinister beacon? What port would consent to a veil of such abhorrent night, and why? What science of darkness built that cold house? And in malice? Or in fear?

These questions would remain unanswered. Captain Dumont noted that the ice-flow on which the tower stood appeared to be melting rapidly, and that even during the Tripoli's short stay in the area several large chunks broke away. As no other vessel has ever sighted the building, one surmises that the tower has since sunk to the bottom of the sea, and taken its unnatural darkness with it. It is also reasonable to suppose that the ice-flow, disintegrating at the time of its discovery, was at one time much larger, and perhaps supported other buildings which might have given some insight into the origin and function of the tower. Given the vicinity of the Ross Ice Shelf, it is also possible, perhaps probable, that the ice flow broke away from that monumental body.

Other mysteries surround the tower and its discovery. To begin with, there seems to be no clear explanation for the USS Tripoli's presence in Antarctic waters, although contemporary newspaper articles mention meteorological research. Shipping records are unavailable or missing, and were it not for the photograph(s), the enigmatic rock sample, and the presence of Samuel Dumont, who later served with distinction in the First World War, the skeptical researcher might be tempted to believe that the USS Tripoli itself was fictional, along with its Antarctic Tower. Dumont, who died of lung failure four years after a surviving a Chlorine gas attack at the Somme, was never able to give detailed comment.

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Bibliography: Given the partisan nature of much of the recent literature on this subject, I have tried to use only primary or contemporary sources. "Cold Sea and a Frozen Shore" is a general history of Antarctic antiquities.

--von Bellingshausen, Fabian Gottlieb Thaddeus. The Voyage of Captain Bellingshausen to the Antarctic Seas. 1819-1821 Ed. Frank Debenham. London: The Haklyut Society, 1945.
--Dumont, Samuel C. Ship's Logs of the USS Tripoli. 1902-1905. Washington DC: The US National Archives and Records Administration, 1905.
--Fulton, Cpt. Johanne. Ship's Logs of the Estaphan. 1839-1843. New Bedford: New Bedford Whaling Museum Archives, 1843.
--Mitterand, Theodore W. "The Ant-Arctic Lighthouse: Interview with Sailors of the USS Tripoli." The Picayune [New Orleans] 4 Feb. 1905: C6.
--Peake, Cpt. Jonathan D. Ship's Log of the Rodriguez. 1856-1857. Wellington, New Zealand: Alexander Turnbull Library, 1857.
--Poynter, Charles W. "The Journal of Midshipman C.W. Poynter." The Discovery of the South Shetland Islands. The Voyage of the Brig Williams, 1819-1820 and the Journal of Midshipman C.W. Poynter. Ed. R.J. Campbell. London: Haklyut Society, 2000.
--Santiago, Janet F. "X-Ray Crystalographic Stucture Analysis of USS Tripoli Expedition Rock Samples." Journal of Geochemical Exploration 34.2 (1989): 184-212.
--Wellington, Marian B. Cold Sea and a Frozen Shore: A History of Human Settlement in the Antarctic. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1995.
--Wesson, Robert H. "American Brig Makes Startling Discovery in Antarctic Seas." New York Tribune, 10 Feb. 1905: A4.



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We didn't set out to find the thing, no, it was just our damn luck to run over it one night coming back from Saturday Night Bingo at the church in Wellington, our Maud and Jamie Bursson. It sounded like we hit a dog or something, but the damn fool thing just sat staring in our headlights with eyes like lamps, didn't even try to get off the road. Eddie thought it was a dog, but I knew it wasn't, "Some kind of Swamp Thing, Ed," I said and he said "No it's damn Wainright's Dog" and Maud thought it must've been a Gaitor up from the Baiyou south of the Jefferson's place, but when we got out it was like I said, a Swamp Thing.

"Shit" said Eddie Bursson. Maud and Jamie wouldn't get near it. Eddie and I had a look. I wouldn't touch it and I told Eddie, I said "Eddie don't touch it" but he's gone and turned it over with his foot. He says, "It ain't dead". I said "Ed, don't touch it," Jamie was saying it too, but Eddie says, "It ain't dead," big scaly varmint, size of a pig and mouth you could get a watermelon into, "It ain't dead," Ed says, "You were right, Jeff. Some kind of Swamp Thing." And then he picks up a rock and kills it.

Anyways a few weeks later he says "Jeff come on over, I got something to show you," so I went over, and he says "Jeff I done took it to the taxidermist in Torson county," I said "Ed, you done took what?" he says "Jeff the Swamp Thing. Taxidermist din't know what the hell it was." I said "Ed, you didn't go and get it stuffed, did you?" and he brings me into his living room and there it is on the mantlepiece trussed up like Carmen fucking Miranda with a bunch of Grapes and a Passion fruit and he says "Ain't it a laugh, Jeff? Jamie damn near pisses herself everytime she comes in here."

The next time I got over to Eddie Burssons place it was September and I says "Ed where's it gone?" and he says "The damn Taxidermist in Torson County told the Feds. They got a warrant and come down here." I said "Ed the fruit display and everything?" he says, "the whole thing, Jeff." I said "Ed that's gonna be trouble."

And it was. I guess that Swamp Thing caused a hell of a havoc up in Miami because a week later there was four lawyers on my stoop with a Writ of Eminent Domain saying we had three weeks to be off the place. They said they was gonna drain the swamp for a highway. We moved up with Maud's folk in New Orleans. Eddie Bursson left too, but he told me he drove back there last July and they ain't building no highway. They drained the swamp alright, Eddie says Podunkolok Creek is dry. Jimmy Ranier who lives over in Wellington said they put a fence all 'round Jefferson's Baiyou, patrolled by armed guards in bio-hazard suits, all roads closed off. Can't get anywhere near the place now. Like I said, that Swamp Thing was trouble.



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