Category Archives: Sled Dog History

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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Sled Dog Tales

True stories include Alaskan mail carrier Eli Smith’s epic trip to Washington, D.C., Alaska Nellie’s daring rescue of a lost mail carrier, the Rev. Samuel Hall Young’s 1913 trip over the Iditarod Trail, and Territorial Judge James Wickersham’s 1901 dogsled trip down the frozen Yukon River from Eagle to Rampart. Fascinating stories of Alaska’s history as seen from the runners of a dogsled! Continue reading

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Alaska & The Klondike

Complete chapters from books such as Ten Thousand Miles with a Dog Sled, The Land of Tomorrow, and Along Alaska’s Great River offer first-hand accounts of the authors’ adventures in charting an unknown country, exploring a wondrous land, searching for gold, delivering freight and mail, and administering medical and religious services by dog team, at a time when the land was young. Continue reading

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Joe Redington, Sr.

Joe Redington came to Alaska in 1948, settling on a homestead near Knik, south of Wasilla, with his family. He learned about sled dogs and how to handle a dog team from his new neighbors, mail and freight team driver Sharon Fleckenstein and Lee Ellexson, one of the last dog team mail drivers on the Iditarod Trail. Continue reading

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The Call of the Wild

An excerpt from Jack London’s The Call of the Wild (Macmillan, 1903), the fictional account of events in the life of the great sled dog Buck who, at this point in the story, ran in the traces of a courier for the Canadian Government, bearing important dispatches. Continue reading

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Icebound

The documentary ‘Icebound’ is the story of the 1925 Serum Run, a heroic testament to the human spirit, and to the dogs of the far north. But beyond the legend lies a complex tale, filled with irony, tragedy, and myth. Continue reading

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Roadhouse Registers

Travelers of the Trail • Seeking Shelter and A Warm Meal W. A. Dikeman and Charles Peterson reported by Iditarod Nugget as “First Mushers Over the Iditarod Trail: Taking 45 Days from Seward to Otter, they meet several others on the … Continue reading

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Ernest de Koven Leffingwell

Ernest de Koven Leffingwell was a joint commander, with Ejnar Mikkelsen, of the 1906-1908 Anglo-American Polar Expedition, which established that, contrary to long-held myths and stories, there was no land north of Alaska.

Self-described as “the forgotten explorer,” as his efforts went largely unrecognized in his own time, Leffingwell is credited for later mapping about 150 miles of the Arctic coastline, between Point Barrow and Herschel Island, along with the adjacent Brooks Range, between 1906 and 1914. Continue reading

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The Call of the Wild

The Call of the Wild, by Jack London, was published in 1903, and the story is set in the Yukon during the 1890’s Klondike Gold Rush—a period when strong sled dogs were in high demand. Continue reading

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Jujiro Wada, Trailblazer

There are many strange and unusual stories in the annals of northern sled dog travel, but one of the most fascinating concerns an enigmatic Japanese explorer and adventurer named Jujiro Wada. Born in Japan in the 1870s, the second son of a lower-class samurai warrior, he traveled to the U.S. in 1890 and worked as a cabin boy for the Pacific Steam Whaling Company and at Barrow for the renowned Charlie Brower, manager of the Cape Smythe Whaling and Trading Company, which history buffs agree was probably where he learned to handle sled dogs and began learning the Alaska Native languages. Continue reading

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