Category Archives: Alaska History

Planet Mackey

Lance Mackey’s achievements were such that they caught the attention of two famous astronomers, and they named a minor planet in his honor. Continue reading

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Sled Dog Mail

Dogs were capable of covering long distances, day or night, and could travel over frozen lakes and rivers and pass through dense forests. By 1901, a network of mail trails throughout Alaska was in use, including a system that followed almost the entire length of the Yukon River. The historic 2,300-mile Iditarod Trail was the main dog trail that carried mail from Seward to Nome. Continue reading

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Iditarod National Historic Trail

Nationally, our Historic Trails commemorate major routes of exploration, migration, trade, communications, and military actions that formed America, and only 16 trails in the U.S. have been honored as National Historic Trails. The Iditarod is the only Alaskan trail in the National system, and the only Historic Trail celebrating the indispensable role played by man’s best friend in America’s Last Great Gold Rush. Without dependable sled dogs hauling freight, passengers, mail and more, the history of Alaska and the north country would have been quite different. Continue reading

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Addison Powell in Valdez

Addison M. Powell was an adventurer, prospector, hunter, and a guide for Captain William R. Abercrombie’s 1898 Copper River Exploring Expedition, one of three military expeditions organized to explore the interior of the new territory of Alaska. His book Trailing and Camping in Alaska, subtitled Ten Years Spent Exploring, Hunting and Prospecting in Alaska – 1898 to 1909, was republished in its entirety by Northern Light Media in September, 2018.  Continue reading

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W. T. Geisman, Photographer

As the official photographer for the Matanuska Colony Project, Geisman documented every aspect of the venture, from the kitchen help aboard the North Star to the colonists’ children playing in the tent city, from officials posing stiffly for portraits to farmers working together to build homes before winter. His photographs portray proud farm wives showing their neat tent kitchens, and a small girl sitting in an Alaskan berry patch grinning at the cameraman. Continue reading

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1967 Centennial Race

The 1967 race was billed as ‘the biggest event in racing history,’ with an unprecedented purse of $25,000, richer than any purse offered for a sled dog race until then. It attracted mushers from all around Alaska, respected dog drivers such as George Attla, Gareth Wright, Earl Norris, Jerry Riley, Orville Lake, Herbie Nayokpuk, Dick Mackey, and even two champion sprint mushers from Massachusetts: Dr. Roland Lombard and Dr. Charles Belford. Continue reading

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The Origins of Mushing

“I find in the book, ‘The World of Sled Dogs,’ by Lorna Coppinger, that the earliest historical records of the use of sled dogs in the Siberian subarctic appear in Arabian literature of the tenth century; in writings of Marco Polo in the thirteenth century; and of Francesco de Kollo in the sixteenth.” Continue reading

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1911 Iditarod Sweepstakes

On New Year’s Day, January 1, 1911, 62 years before the inaugural run of today’s race, the First Annual Iditarod Sweepstakes Race was held over a 20-mile course which started in front of the Miners and Merchants Bank in the town of Iditarod. Continue reading

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The First Iditarod, 2nd Edition

From 2007 to 2012 I travelled across Alaska to visit veteran mushers from the 1973 race who would share their memories of what has since become known as “The Last Great Race on Earth.” The bulk of my book is comprised of the verbatim words of these intrepid men who drove their teams on that first journey to Nome in 1973, captured through recorded and videotaped interviews and many notes and follow-up letters and emails. Continue reading

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All Alaska Sweepstakes

The historic All Alaska Sweepstakes is the oldest organized distance sled dog race in the world, with records kept by the Nome Kennel Club dating back to the first race in 1908. The race, which was held from 1908 to 1917, and commemorated with 75th and 100th anniversary races in 1983 and 2008, is the subject of All Alaska Sweepstakes: History of the Great Sled Dog Race, by Helen Hegener. Continue reading

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