The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

Alfred Johnsen

Alfred Johnsen

A carte-de-visite portrait of Captain Alfred Johnsen (1846-1927), the first person to make a solo West to East crossing of the Atlantic, a feat he accomplished in a 20 ft gaff-rigged dory called the Centennial. He sailed from Gloucester in Massachusetts and landed 66 days later on 21 August 1876 at Abercastle in Pembrokeshire. He managed an average speed of about 70 miles (110 km) a day and survived a gale which capsized his boat.

A plaque on the quay wall at Abercastle commemorates his landing; it was unveiled by Johnsen’s grandson in 2003. His boat, the Centennial, still survives and is on display in the Cape Ann History Society Museum in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

According to the information printed on the reverse of the mount, Captain Johnsen ‘is a native of Denmark, and was engaged for some years past in the Fisheries on the Banks of Newfoundland.’

When asked in later life why he had undertaken so perilous a voyage, he replied 'I made that trip because I was a damned fool, just as they said I was.'

Photographed by Brown, Barnes and Bell of Liverpool.


Code: 126546
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