Alaska's Appreciation for Sled Dogs Continues as the Iditarod Mushes on

By Dan Carpenter

Channel 2 News

4:52 PM EDT, August 9, 2013

NOME, Alaska


The Iditarod Sled Dog Race takes dog mushers and their team on a thousand mile journey over vast frozen stretches of Alaska’s tundra. The Iditarod trail we know today was largely established in the early 1900’s. The trail was used regularly to get supplies to miners in the Iditarod region and as far away as Nome during Alaska’s gold rush days. The trail runs past the front door of an old pool hall at the Knik Town Site.

Before airplanes were widely in use, it was the dog team that delivered mail and carried news to gold miners who had traveled far from their homes outside of Alaska in search of wealth. Native Alaskans established sections of the trail thousands of years ago. The trail is still used for trade and for just getting to the next village.

It was the dream of Joe Redington Sr. to honor Alaska’s history and preserve a mode of transportation being replaced by the snow machine.

Redington along with Dorthy Page made the race a reality. In the beginning, just 34 mushers showed up at the starting line in 1973.

In January 1925 sections of the trail helped a supply of life saving diphtheria vaccine reach Nome. A relay of twenty dog mushers carried the fragile cargo from Nenana. A dog named Balto carried the serum into Nome, but it was another hero that ensured the safe delivery. lenord Seppala’s dog Togo safely lead the team through a blizzard while crossing Norton Sound.

Through the Iditarod race, Alaska’s history with sled dogs will continue to mush on.