Clipperton Island Pictures and History

Clipperton Island is a barren, ring-shaped coral atoll located 1630 miles south-southeast of San Diego, California, and 1600 miles west of Nicaragua. The only atoll in the East Pacific, it completly surrounds its stagnent fresh-water lagoon and serves as home for thousands of sea birds and millions of land crabsClippertons total area is about 7 square kilometers. Most of the island is no higher than 6 feet, except for Clipperton Rock, a volcanic rock formation which reaches a peak height of 69 feet.

Clipperton QTH

Clipperton Island was originally discovered by Ferdinand Magellan in 1521, but was later named after John Clipperton, an English pirate who led a mutiny against William Dampier in 1704.  It has been rumored that Clipperton hid some treasures on the atoll.

In 1708, two French ships 'Princess' and 'D´┐Żcouverte' reached the island and named it 'Ile de la Possession', and annexed it for France. The first scientific expedition took place in 1725 by Frenchman M.Bocage, who lived on the island for several months.

Over one hundred years later, Clipperton was found again by an American guano mining company. The treaty of Guano was made in 1856, and the United States had rights for guano mining on Clipperton.  In 1857, the French declared (under heavy American) protest that Clipperton was a part of Tahiti. But after several years of no permanent settlement on the island, Mexico occupied the island in 1897 and established a military outpost on the island.

In 1906, the British 'Pacific Island Company' annexed the island, and built a settlement together with the Mexican government in order to mine guano. In that year, a lighthouse was also erected. In 1914, about 100 people, mixed men and women, lived on the island. Every two months, a ship from Acapulco went to the island to bring food. However, with the start of the Mexican civil war, the atoll was no longer reachable by ship, and the people on the island were on their own.

By 1915, most of the inhabitants had died, and the last settlers wanted to leave on the American war ship 'Lexington' which had reached the atoll in late 1915.  However, the Mexican military Governor declared that evacuation was not necessary.  By 1917, most of the men had died and only the ligthhouse keeper was living along with 15 women on the island. In July 1917, three women were the only ones alive and were picked up by the American ship 'Yorktown'.

Ownership of Clipperton was then disputed between France and Mexico.  France approached the Vatican for a decision on who owned the lonely atoll, far offshore. In 1930, the Vatican gave the rights to the King of Italy, Vikor Emanuel II, who declared one year later that Clipperton was a part of France.  When Clipperton was finally declared as a French posession, the lighthouse was rebuilt and the French settled a military outpost on the island. The outpost only remained for there seven years and then the French abandoned it.

In the late 1930's, Clipperton was visited twice by President Franklin D. Roosevelt who wanted it to become an American possession for use as a trans-pacific air base, and in 1944 he ordered the navy to occupy the island in one of the most secret US operations of WW II. After the war it was abandoned, and has since only been visited by the French Navy and an occasional scientific or amateur radio expedition.

Clipperton Island Pictures

Click on pictures below to view a larger image.

Clipperton from STS-62 Clipperton Island as seen from the Space Shuttle STS-62
1957 Survey Map 1957 French Survey map


1954 Clipperton DXpedition The 1954 FO8AJ operators on Clipperton


The pictures below are courtesy of the 1992 FO0CI team.

FO0CI Operating Site A picture of the operating site taken from a helicopter
Largest Beach A view of the largest beach on the atoll, located on
the southeast side.
Clipperton Rock A view of Clipperton Rock taken from the boat.
Operating Camp Picture of the operating camp from a distance
Operating Camp A closer picture of the operating camp
Crab Fence Another picture of the operating camp.  Notice the
little fence around the site?  That's to keep all of
the crabs out!
1992 FO0CI Operators The 1992 FO0CI operators.  Some of these
operators will be returning for the 2000 trip!
FO0CI Plaque The FO0CI plaque which was left on the island
after the DXpedition.
Ammo There is a lot of "junk" all over the island.   Here is
some abandoned US navy ammunition.


This page designed and maintained by N6RT
Last updated on October 6, 1999