Dan Hust | Democrat
WARREN COOK, GREAT-NEPHEW of famed North Pole explorer (and Sullivan County native) Dr. Frederick Cook, gives an interview to a Japanese TV crew filming a piece on Dr. Cook at the Sullivan County Museum in Hurleyville on Tuesday.
Japan Knows Cook
By Dan Hust
HURLEYVILLE August 3, 2007 Japanese audiences will soon get a taste of the controversy surrounding the true original discoverer of the North Pole.
They’ll also find out Sullivan County’s role in the century-old debate.
On Tuesday, a seven-man crew from the Tokyo Broadcasting System in Japan set up shop in the Sullivan County Museum’s Reading Room in Hurleyville. Director Shuichi Otsuka and Producer Yuki Wakano coordinated an hour-long interview with Warren Cook, the great-nephew of North Pole explorer Dr. Frederick Cook.
The late Dr. Cook was born in Hortonville in 1865 and achieved fame and praise as a member of Robert Peary’s and others’ Arctic expeditions in the late 19th century. Ironically, he claimed to have reached the North Pole on April 21, 1908 a year before Peary, leading to a bitter battle over who really had accomplished the feat.
Eventually, Peary gained widespread support in the scientific and governmental communities, and a somewhat forgotten Cook died in 1940.
But Sullivan County never forgot him, and in time a historical marker was erected near his still-existing birth home along 17B in Hortonville.
The Frederick A. Cook Society was formed by those who believe Cook was unfairly discredited and did indeed first set foot at the top of the world.
Headquartered at the county museum, the nonprofit organization maintains a scholarly collection and display and is coordinating events celebrating the centennial of Cook’s most famous achievement.
“I actually think Cook got as close to the pole as anyone was capable of getting at that time,” said Patricia Burns, a Kauneonga Lake resident and administrative assistant of the 150-member society.
“He was just a wonderful, dynamic man,” said Warren Cook, who knew his great-uncle in the last decade of Dr. Cook’s life.
Cook, president of the society since 1985, traveled to Hurleyville from his home in Mahwah, NJ on Tuesday to talk to the Japanese TV crew, filming a segment for “their version of the History Channel”: a program called “Discover Wonders of the World,” airing weekly in Japan for the past 22 years.
“It was one of the best interviews I’ve ever had,” said Cook.
“The inspiration for this came from [a U.S. TV program called] ‘Race to the Pole,’” explained Wakano. “We’re doing a story on the polar controversy.
“Mr. Cook was very informative and very thorough,” she added of the interview. “We’re very happy to be here.”
But for those looking to catch it on television, they’ll have to be in Japan on September 22 the only place it will be broadcast.
For more information on Dr. Cook, visit the county museum’s exhibit in Hurleyville, call the Cook Society at 412-782-0171 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.