He rounded out a successful career as a sea captain by utilizing a portion of the northern sea route to Siberia. He was the pioneer in demonstrating the practicability of trade relations by sea between the North Sea countries and the northern portion of Siberia. Beginning his voyages in 1874, he twice reached the Ob River, and five times carried cargoes to the Yenisei River, up which stream he once navigated his ship 2000 miles (3218 km). He facilitated the construction of the Trans-Siberian railway by carrying to that country a large cargo of rails.
He was honored by the Czar for his pioneer work, which Baron Nordenskiöld described as an "Event rivaling in importance the return of the first fleet loaded with merchandise from India". In 1894 he was awarded the Murchison Award by the Royal Geographical Society.
In 2016, it was reported that the wreck of the steamship Thames, with which Wiggins had made an expedition to the Yenisei River in 1876 and which sank there in 1878, had been discovered.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Gilman, D. C.; Thurston, H. T.; Colby, F. M., eds. (1905). "article name needed". New International Encyclopedia (1st ed.). New York: Dodd, Mead.
- Johnson, Henry (2011) [first published 1907]. The Life And Voyages Of Joseph Wiggins: Modern Discoverer Of The Kara Sea Route To Siberia; Based On His Journals And Letters. Kessinger Publishing (original publisher John Murray, London). ISBN 978-1162995625.
- Luhn, Alec (9 August 2016). "'Discovery of the year': sunken British ship found in Russian Arctic". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 August 2016.
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