I've been working on a display of unusual historical events for our city's Bicentennial and stumbled across this today: Admiral Byrd's Snow Cruiser
The giant 55 foot long, 20 foot wide Snow Cruiser designed for Admiral Byrd’s third Antarctic expedition in 1939 was built in Chicago. It travelled through Fort Wayne, IN and eastward on Route 30, passing through Mansfield at 6 a.m. on the Morning of November 3, 1939 on its way to Boston to be loaded onto the expedition’s ship the North Star.
The cruiser reached Boston in19 days with many mishaps and breakdowns along the way, and accompanied by massive traffic jams of onlookers, but most Mansfielder’s slept through it’s passage through town on Fourth Street, and out Rte. 42 to Ashland.
Once offloaded at the Bay of Whales in the Antarctic the mishaps continued, its lack of traction being its biggest failure. The farthest distance it travelled in the Antarctic was 95 miles, backwards (it was found it had better traction going in reverse).
It served as a winter station for the expedition, buried in the snow on the Ross Ice Shelf. With the war in Europe, funding for the expedition dried up. The snow cruiser was last seen when it was rediscovered in 1962. Today it is either buried beneath the ice or, more likely, at the bottom of the Southern Ocean.