The Yukon Quest Trail

YQ logoThe 2020 Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race begins in Fairbanks at 11:00 am on February 1, and runs to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory; the Yukon Quest 300 starts at 3:00 pm the same day and runs to Circle, on the Yukon River. There are many exciting books about the race, and many written by the mushers who have run the race, but one book focuses on the trail between Fairbanks and Whitehorse, highlighting the incredible route followed by those mushers who accept the very real challenge of the Yukon Quest.

Yukon Quest Trail The Yukon Quest Trail: 1,000 Miles Across Northern Alaska and the Yukon Territory, text and photos by Helen Hegener, with additional photographs by Eric Vercammen and Fairbanks-based photographer Scott Chesney, was published in full color in December, 2014 by Northern Light Media. The book also includes detailed Trail Notes for Mushers by two-time Yukon Quest Champion John Schandelmeier.

Screen Shot 2019-12-29 at 3.07.23 PMThe Yukon Quest Trail traces  a captivating journey by hardy mushers and their teams of lionhearted sled dogs, traveling, as the subtitle states, ‘1,000 miles across northern Alaska and the Yukon Territory.’ Over frozen rivers and lakes, across mountain ranges, through “valleys unpeopled and still,” as described by poet Robert Service over a century ago, the sled dog teams are on a quest….

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines ‘quest’ as “a journey made in search of something,” or “a long and difficult effort to find or do something.” In the case of the Yukon Quest there are a lot of possibilities for what that “something” might be. A championship. The fulfillment of a dream. A testing of oneself, and one’s dogs. A trek through some of the most incredible wilderness to be found anywhere. A promise kept. A bucket list checkmarked. A march through history. An accomplishment which few mushers ever achieve.  An achievement to be proud of.

Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 1.55.39 PMThe Yukon Quest Trail explains the history and the route of the Yukon Quest, with photographs which give the reader a compelling look at what it’s like to launch out of the starting chute behind a team of lunging huskies, or to be feeding your tired but hungry team when it’s thirty degrees below zero, or to be all alone in a vast mountain valley with only the thin orange-and-black trail markers to show the way. Superlatives become superfluous, but Robert Service found just the right words in his ode to the north country, The Spell of the Yukon:

The winter! the brightness that blinds you,
The white land locked tight as a drum,
The cold fear that follows and finds you,
The silence that bludgeons you dumb.
The snows that are older than history,
The woods where the weird shadows slant;
The stillness, the moonlight, the mystery,
I’ve bade ‘em good-by — but I can’t.

Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 1.58.26 PMEvery year a large percentage of the mushers who enter the Yukon Quest are those who have been down this trail before, and over the years, this incredible adventure wraps mushers and dogs together with a traveling road show made up of handlers, vets, volunteers, judges, friends, families, fans and the media, as they all travel from checkpoint to checkpoint along the Yukon Quest trail.

There’s a land where the mountains are nameless,
And the rivers all run God knows where;
There are lives that are erring and aimless,
And deaths that just hang by a hair;
There are hardships that nobody reckons;
There are valleys unpeopled and still;
There’s a land — oh, it beckons and beckons,
And I want to go back — and I will.

Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 2.38.15 PMThere are photos of some of the old teams which originally ran these trails, for there is a palpable sense of history inherent in this great race; the mushers and their dogs literally run in the tracks of some of the greatest sled dog drivers of all time.  As the race website notes,”The race is a living memorial to those turn-of-the-century miners, trappers, and mail carriers who opened up the country without benefit of snowmobiles, airplanes, or roads. It was their strength and fortitude that blazed the Trail over which most of the Yukon Quest travels.”

The combination of history, distances, wilderness, and the sheer physical endurance necessary to make the trek captures the imagination like few other sled dog races can, but the country itself, the land the race takes place in, simply captures one’s heart and soul. Robert Service’s epic poem, about a sourdough longing for the country he left behind, puts words to what many who have traveled the Yukon Quest trail still feel today:

There’s gold, and it’s haunting and haunting;
It’s luring me on as of old;
Yet it isn’t the gold that I’m wanting
So much as just finding the gold.
It’s the great, big, broad land ‘way up yonder,
It’s the forests where silence has lease;
It’s the beauty that thrills me with wonder,
It’s the stillness that fills me with peace.

YQ Front CoverThe Yukon Quest Trail: 1,000 Miles Across Northern Alaska and the Yukon Territory, text and photos by Helen Hegener, additional photographs by Eric Vercammen and Scott Chesney; also included: Trail Notes for Mushers by two-time Yukon Quest Champion John Schandelmeier. Published December, 2014 by Northern Light Media. 151 pages, 8.5″ x 11″ format, bibliography, indexed. $29.00 (plus $5.00 shipping and handling). Click on the title (or here) to order via PayPal.

 

 

 

 

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Congressional Records & the ARR

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There are a wealth of historic resources at the website for my book on the Alaska Railroad construction from 1902 to 1923. Most of the resources I used in researching the history and writing the book are there.

Link to the 1913 Congressional Report of the Alaska Railroad Commission, on Railway Routes in Alaska.

Alternate Link.

Below is an excerpt from this report, a message from President William H. Taft dated February 6, 1913, in which he explains the purpose and meaning of the commission report.

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oie_2431739Mw7GhIDh(1)Link to the Congressional Report of the Alaskan Engineering Commission for the period from March 12, 1914 to December 31, 1915.

Alternate link.

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AEC History cover

 

1922 Report on The Alaskan Engineering Commission: Its History, Activities and Organization.

Alternate link.

AEC History quote

 

 

 

 

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Read more history: Website for the Book

ARR CoverThe Alaska Railroad: 1902-1923, Blazing an Iron Trail Across The Last Frontier, by Helen Hegener, published in May, 2017 by Northern Light Media. 400 pages, over 100 b/w historic photos, maps, bibliography, indexed. The book can be ordered via PayPal for $24.00 plus $5.00 postage, by clicking here (credit cards accepted). The Alaska Railroad: 1902-1923 is also available at Amazon, and can be ordered through your favorite bookstore.

 

 

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Sled Dog Movies

Last year, 2018, was noted by the Chinese calendar’s zodiac as being the Year of the Dog, but this year, 2019, seems to be the Year of the Sled Dog, as film after film featuring heroic sled dogs is released to movie theaters and home streaming services. There are two movies about the great Serum Run to Nome during the 1925 diphtheria epidemic, one focusing on the champion musher Leonhard Seppala, and the other on his favorite lead dog, Togo. One is an independent production, the other is from the powerhouse film company Disney Studios, but both are absorbing stories, beautifully filmed. Another champion musher, the sprint racing legend George Attla, is the subject of a new PBS documentary, and one of the greatest dog stories of all time is brought to life by a great film legend, Harrison Ford. Pass the popcorn!

~ ~ ~ THE GREAT ALASKAN RACE ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

MV5BNzY2NDFhYzctM2ZmMi00MmU3LWJkOWMtM2UyYzQzYzZmYjQzXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTA0NTU3MDYz._V1_UY1200_CR90,0,630,1200_AL_ From the official website for The Great Alaskan Race: “After overcoming personal tragedy, widowed father and champion musher Leonhard ‘Sepp’ Seppala steps up in the midst of a diphtheria outbreak in Nome, Alaska to deliver the anti-toxin to the hospital. With his own child’s life on the line, Sepp battles the impossible, accompanied by his pack of sled dogs.”

Rex Reed in the Observer: “Bruce Davison is the nervous, embattled governor who approves of the race despite growing fear and criticism, and the skeptical antagonist is Henry Thomas (yes, the child from E. T., all grown up and bearded now). Director Presley is very good as Sepp—the strong, virile and indestructible hero. But there’s no getting around the fact that it’s the dogs who steal the picture.” And “The unfailing spirit of survival is captured along with the excellent period costumes, sets and even makeup (the frostbites look too real for words) that are rare for an independent film with a limited budget. Not a perfect film, but breathtaking enough to linger in the memory.”

great-alaskan-race_668_330_80_int_s_c1Frank Scheck for the Hollywood Reporter: “You’d think that the true story of a legendary dog run across Alaska’s frozen tundra nearly 100 years ago to get lifesaving medicine to diphtheria victims would make for compelling drama. Unfortunately, actor tyro director/screenwriter Brian Presley lacks the filmmaking chops to make the tale come alive in his feature debut. Although earnest to a fault and certainly fulfilling its goal of being family-friendly entertainment, The Great Alaskan Race ultimately proves less exciting and not nearly as adorable as Balto, the 1995 animated film inspired by the same events.”

~ ~ ~ TOGO ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

220px-Togo_film_poster  Walt Disney Studios: An Original Movie starring Willem Dafoe and Julianne Nicholson, “Togo” is the untold true story set in the winter of 1925 that treks across the treacherous terrain of the Alaskan tundra for an exhilarating and uplifting adventure that will test the strength, courage and determination of one man, Leonhard Seppala, and his lead sled dog, Togo. The poignant and emotional adventure debuts on Disney+ on Dec. 20, 2019.

Kate Erbland on IndieWire: “Tom Flynn’s screenplay wedges in a hefty amount of fact-based drama (with a few curious tweaks), and while those elements will likely prove less appealing to younger viewers, the human demands and the canine cost of the quest to secure diphtheria-fighting serum during a horrific Alaska winter are the stuff of classic drama. Dafoe stars as legendary breeder and musher Leonhard Seppala (who helped normalize the use of Siberian Huskies beyond their Native American roots) as he sets out on a 600-mile journey to obtain the medicine needed to save the children of his adopted hometown of Nome, Alaska.”

Screen-Shot-2019-12-04-at-10.05.26-AM-800x400Nicola Austin for Geeks Wordwide: “Togo is a character driven tale that focuses primarily on the central “man and his dog” tale rather than the wider race against time (and elements), and it’s all the better for it. The film flits between present day and flashbacks, nicely building up the central bond between Seppala and Togo – recounting his mischievous puppy years in which the musher tried to give him away twice(!), to him finding his heroic place leading the pack. It’s a beautiful bond that will undoubtedly melt the iciest of hearts; you know what they say about the purest love being between grumpy dads and the pets they said they didn’t want!”

~ ~ ~ ATTLA ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Screen Shot 2019-12-07 at 12.36.40 AMFrom the film’s website: A co-production of ITVS & Vision Maker Media, ATTLA tells the gripping but little-known story of George Attla, a charismatic Alaska Native dogsled racer who, with one good leg and fierce determination, became a legendary sports hero in Northern communities around the world. Part dog whisperer, part canny businessman and part heartthrob, Attla rose to international fame during a unique period of history when Western education, economies, and culture penetrated the Alaskan village lifestyle and forever changed the state with the discovery of oil in the late 1960s. Spanning his fifty-year long career, the film tells Attla’s story from his childhood as a tuberculosis survivor in the Alaskan interior, through his rise as ten-time world champion and mythical state hero, to a village elder resolutely training his grandnephew to race his team one last time.

Screen Shot 2019-12-07 at 12.34.45 AMFrom PBS Independent Lens: “ATTLA tells the gripping but little-known story of George Attla, a charismatic Alaska Native dogsled racer who, with one good leg and fierce determination, became a legendary sports hero in Northern communities around the world. Part dog whisperer, part canny businessman and part heartthrob, Attla rose to international fame during a unique period of history when Western education, economies, and culture penetrated the Alaskan village lifestyle and forever changed the state with the discovery of oil in the late 1960s.

“ATTLA weaves George’s remarkable underdog story with the final chapter of his life, as he emerges from retirement to mentor his twenty-year-old grandnephew, Joe Bifelt, who takes a break from college to train with his uncle. With their sights set on reviving proud cultural traditions, the pair embark on a journey to compete in one of the world’s largest dogsled sprint races, one that has seen a steep decline in Native competitors.”

~ ~ ~ THE CALL OF THE WILD ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

Screen Shot 2019-12-07 at 12.47.34 AM  20th Century Fox: Adapted from the beloved literary classic, THE CALL OF THE WILD vividly brings to the screen the story of Buck, a big-hearted dog whose blissful domestic life is turned upside down when he is suddenly uprooted from his California home and transplanted to the exotic wilds of the Alaskan Yukon during the Gold Rush of the 1890s. As the newest rookie on a mail delivery dog sled team–and later its leader–Buck experiences the adventure of a lifetime, ultimately finding his true place in the world and becoming his own master. As a live-action/animation hybrid, THE CALL OF THE WILD employs cutting edge visual effects and animation technology in order to render the animals in the film as fully photorealistic–and emotionally authentic–characters.”

No reviews yet, scheduled for release in February, 2020.

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A New Books Site

First six books

I have reworked an old website I built a few years ago and it is now a showcase for my Baker’s Dozen books on Alaskan history. The front page displays all the book covers, and clicking on any book title will take you to an in-depth description and ordering information for that book. Photographs, excerpts, quotes and more from each book can be found on their individual pages, easily accessed from anywhere on the site via the book titles listed in the right sidebar.

Bottom Seven BooksA page about my company, Northern Light Media, and another linking to my new Alaskan History Magazine round out this simple and straightforward book site. It will be a somewhat static site, while this Northern Light Media site will continue to be updated with posts about Alaskan history, my books and book-related activities, and great photographs. Books can be ordered via PayPal from either site. I hope you’ll take a look at my new book site, share the link with friends who may be interested, and bookmark the site for future reference!

Here’s the link again! 

 

 

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Interesting Old Photos

As I’m researching and doing reference work on articles for Alaskan History Magazine I come across many interesting old photographs of Alaska which don’t meet my needs, but which seem worth sharing for those who enjoy the history. I’ll post a few here now and then, and I’ll share more great old photos from time to time at the magazine’s website and on the related Facebook group.

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Wells Fargo Express office, Tanana, 1900.

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The U.S. Lighthouse Service tender Armeria, assigned to Ketchikan, ran aground off Cape Hinchinbrook on 20 May 1912 while delivering supplies for the Cape Hinchinbrook lighthouse.

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Governor’s mansion under construction. Juneau, July 31, 1912. 

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Cabin of Rex Beach, author of ‘The Spoilers,” and “The Silver Horde,” Rampart, date unknown.

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Freighters crossing Thompson Pass north of Valdez, date unknown. 

 

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Old Alaskan Postcards

Nome 1899

Juneau mine

Ft. Gibbon on the Yukon River

Seward birds eye view

Valdez Overland Stage

Nome watching passengers landing

Skagway

Wrangell

Juneau and Gastineau Channel

Nome passengers landing

Valdez

78. Keystone Canyon team

 

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Mush with PRIDE

Mush with PRIDE borderedThe mutually beneficial relationship between sled dogs and people is one of the oldest bonds of its kind. In his essay “A History of Mushing Before We Knew It,” champion musher Tim White wrote of this relationship:

“Sled dogs have coexisted and cooperated in partnership with humans for many thousands of years in the northern regions of North America and Siberia. Archeological evidence puts the earliest date at over 4,000 years ago. Some anthropologists suggest that human habitation and survival in the Arctic would not have been possible without sled dogs.”

Modern sled dog owners are proud of their dogs, and view them as canine athletes that are bred and trained to do what they love to do — that is, run as part of a team. The organization Mush with P.R.I.D.E., established in 1991 as an organization of mushers who were concerned about the care of sled dogs and public perceptions of mushing, supports the responsible care and humane treatment of all dogs, and is dedicated to enhancing the care and treatment of sled dogs in their traditional and modern uses.

YQ Dogs by me

Northern Light Media photo

The abbreviations in the organization’s name, P.R.I.D.E., stand for Providing Responsible Information on a Dog’s Environment, and to address some of the concerns relating to sled dog care and training, the organization developed sled dog care and equipment guidelines. A voluntary kennel inspection program was established because, as the page on their Web site explains, “The P.R.I.D.E. Board firmly believes that if we mushers conduct ourselves responsibly then we will be less likely to suffer from unknowing governmental regulation. We hope that this program is a demonstration of the fact that we can responsibly take care of our own.”

Mush with P.R.I.D.E. guidelines have frequently been used by other groups and agencies when determining responsible dog care and kennel husbandry standards. Member clubs supporting Mush with P.R.I.D.E. include not only Alaskan sled dog groups, but mushing associations, clubs and groups from around the globe, including Canada, Norway, Great Britain, Germany, Jamaica and Australia. In 2007, P.R.I.D.E. elected a new multi-state, international Board of Directors. Anyone who cares about sled dogs and mushing is encouraged to support Mush with P.R.I.D.E. by becoming a member. Current P.R.I.D.E. members include large competitive kennels, small recreational teams, skijorers, veterinarians, race sponsoring organizations, local mushing clubs and fans of sled dogs. The support and input from the membership is what helps direct the P.R.I.D.E. Board of Directors and establish P.R.I.D.E. as a leading organization promoting responsible sled dog care and dog-powered sports.

Members receive a quarterly newsletter and a copy of Sled Dog Care Guidelines and Equipment Guidelines, and a First Aid Manual for Sled Dogs. Mush with P.R.I.D.E., PO Box 1915, Kenai, AK 99611. https://mushwithpride.org

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Seward’s Day

21. Alaska map 1895Seward’s Day, celebrated on March 25 in 2019, is a legal holiday in Alaska, falling on the last Monday in March and commemorating the signing of the Alaska Purchase treaty on March 30, 1867. It is named for then-Secretary of State William H. Seward, who negotiated the purchase from Russia. The Alaska Purchase treaty was ratified by the United States Senate, and signed by President Andrew Johnson. (Seward’s Day is sometimes confused with Alaska Day, observed on October 18, which marks the formal transfer of control over Alaska from Russia to the United States.)

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Signing the Alaska Treaty of Cessation, L. to R. Robert S. Chew, Secretary of State (USA) William H. Seward, William Hunter, Mr. Bodisco, Russian Ambassador Baron de Stoeckl, Charles Sumner, Fredrick W. Seward, William H. Seward House, Auburn, New York. The artist Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze (May 24, 1816 – July 18, 1868), was a German American history painter best known for his painting of ‘Washington Crossing the Delaware.’

Russia’s primary activities in the territory had been fur trade and missionary work among the Native Alaskans, but by 1867 Russia wanted to sell its Alaskan territory due to the difficulty of living there, apparent lack of natural resources (gold was later discovered in 1896), and fear that it might be easily seized by the United Kingdom in case of war between the two countries. The land added 586,412 square miles of new territory to the United States.

Reactions to the purchase in the United States were mostly positive; some opponents called it “Seward’s Folly” (after Secretary of State William H. Seward), while others praised the move for weakening both the UK and Russia as rivals to American commercial expansion in the Pacific region.

Originally organized as the Department of Alaska, the area was renamed the District of Alaska and the Alaska Territory before becoming the modern state of Alaska upon being admitted to the Union as a state in 1959.

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The US $7.2 million check used to pay for Alaska (roughly $105 million in 2016). With this check, the United States completed the purchase of almost 600,000 square miles of land from the Russian Government. This treasury warrant issued on August 1, 1868, at the Sub-Treasury Building at 26 Wall Street, New York, New York, transferred $7.2 million to Russian Minister to the United States Edouard de Stoeckl. The purchase price of the 49th state? Less than two cents an acre. Original located in the National Archives, Records of the Accounting Officers of the Department of Treasury.

 

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The Ascent of Denali

Ascent of Denali coverHudson Stuck (1865–1920), known as the Archdeacon of the Yukon and the Arctic, was an Episcopal priest, social reformer, and mountain climber in the territory of Alaska who co-led the first expedition to successfully climb Denali (Mount McKinley) in June, 1913. He wrote a book based on the climb, The Ascent of Denali (Mount McKinley): A Narrative of the First Complete Ascent of the Highest Peak in North America, which was published in February, 1914 by Charles Scribers Sons, New York.

Born in London in 1865, Stuck graduated from King’s College London and in 1885, eager to experience the “wide-open spaces” heralded in a railway advertisement, he immigrated to the United States. He worked in Texas for several years as a cowboy and a teacher, eventually turning to studying theology. After his training Stuck was ordained as an Episcopal priest and became the dean of St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Dallas in 1896. His notable accomplishments during this time included founding a home for indigent women, a boys’ school, and a children’s home; and in 1903 he pioneered the first state law to curb the “indefensible abuse” of child labor. 

Hudson Stuck with sigStill seeking a more challenging and adventurous life, Hudson Stuck moved to Alaska in 1904 to serve with Episcopal Church Missionary Bishop Peter Trimble Rowe, under the title Archdeacon of the Yukon and the Arctic, covering a territory of 250,000 square miles across northern Alaska. Stuck set right to work his first year in the north, helping to establish a church, mission and hospital at the new boomtown of Fairbanks. Over the next decade Archdeacon Stuck founded numerous missions and schools for Alaskan natives, and he visited them regularly, ministering also to miners and woodchoppers, and championing the plight of the Indians and Eskimos. 

In a typical winter Stuck mushed more than 2,000 miles by dogsled to visit the remote missions and villages, journeys which he would later immortalize in his book, Ten Thousand Miles with a Dog Sled (1914). In 1908 he acquired a small riverboat,The Pelican, which he used on the Yukon River and its many tributaries, ranging several thousand miles every summer to visit the Athabascan Indians in their fishing and hunting camps. These travels he also later described, in his book Voyages on the Yukon and its Tributaries (1917). 

Stuck had experience in mountain climbing, including the Canadian Rockies and the dormant volcano Mount Rainier in Washington state. In 1913 he recruited the respected wilderness guide and musher Harry Karstens to join him in an expedition to the summit of Denali (then known as Mt. McKinley). Other members were Walter Harper, of Alaska Native and Irish descent, Tennessee native Robert G. Tatum, and two student volunteers from the mission school, Johnny Fred (John Fredson), and Esaias George.

8. Base Camp

Base camp, from the book.

They departed from Nenana on March 17, 1913 and reached the summit of Denali on June 7, 1913. When the party returned to base camp, Stuck sent a messenger to Fairbanks, and their groundbreaking achievement was announced to the world on June 21, 1913, by The New York Times.

Stuck worked as an Episcopal priest in Alaska for the rest of his life, writing five books, in part to reveal the abhorrent exploitation of the Alaska Native peoples that he witnessed in his work. In 1920, at the age of 55, Hudson Stuck, the venerable Archdeacon of the Yukon, died of bronchial pneumonia in Fort Yukon, and at his own request was buried in the native cemetery there.

3. Clearwater Camp

Tatum, Esaias, Karstens, Johnny and Walter, at the Clearwater Camp, from the book.

Harry Karstens, Stuck’s co-organizer, went on to become the first superintendent of Mount McKinley National Park when it was established in 1917. Walter Harper, the Irish-Koyukon Alaska Native, was the first to reach the summit of Denali on June 7. After the climb, Harper continued his formal education, and he planned on going to medical school. In September, 1918 Harper married Frances Welles with Archdeacon Stuck officiating, and he and his wife boarded the ill-fated steamer SS Princess Sophia, en route to Seattle, for their honeymoon. The ship ran aground on a reef in a snowstorm, was broken up in a gale, and sank on October 25. All 268 passengers and 75 crew were lost.

The fourth member of the climbing party was described in a biographical sketch on the website for the Special Collections of the University of Tennessee Knoxville: “The 21 year-old Robert Tatum, a postulant for holy orders and Tennessee native, was teaching at the Episcopal mission school at Nenana, Alaska when he met Stuck on one of the Archdeacon’s regular visits to the mission. Stuck enlisted Tatum as the camp cook for a planned ascent of Denali the next year. Even a trek to base camp would be a mountaineering feat. Tatum, the only inexperienced climber in the party, trained by hiking more than a thousand miles during the winter months that preceded the expedition. It was mere happenstance that Tatum joined the climb to the top. Just one week before the scheduled departure, Stuck invited Tatum to replace another climber who was unable to join the team.”

This post is an excerpt from:

Alaska & The Klondike
Alaska & the Klondike, Early Writings and Historic Photographs, compiled and edited by Helen Hegener, published May 10, 2018 by Northern Light Media. $24.95 (plus shipping), 320 pages, over 100 b/w photos, ISBN-13: 978-1717401991. Click the link in the title for more information, or Click here to order.
Kindle Edition now available. $5.99 (Kindle MatchBook $2.99)
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Project Jukebox: Mushing

Banner(resized)_0Project Jukebox is the Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program, part of the Alaska and Polar Regions Collections of the Elmer E. Rasmuson Library at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The program was established in 1981 to collect and curate audio and video recordings that relate to various aspects of Alaska’s history and the people who have contributed to its rich heritage. The collection contains over 11,200 individual recordings, including interviews with politicians, pioneers, and Native elders. Key collections include “Alaska Native Songs and Legends,” “Early Day Alaskans,” “The Alaska Native Elders-In-Residence Program,” and “On the Road Recordings with Old Timers.”

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Man with gee pole [UAF 1981-11-10]

 “Dog Mushing in Alaska” highlights stories related to the history of dog mushing in Alaska, showcasing historic oral history interviews and incorporating new recordings into the collection. The recordings included in this project represent various aspects of dog mushing, including traditional use, freighting, mail carrying, recreational use, tourism, sled building, trail systems, dog care, and racing.

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Dogteam in Nome [UAF 1989-192-26]

Among the interviews are mushing legends such as George Attla and Herbie Nayokpuk, Joe Redington, Sr. and Dr. Roland Lombard, but also many less-well-known but equally interesting interviews with dog drivers like Mary Shields, Grant Pearson, Moses Cruikshank and Effie Kokrine. Photograph slideshows accompany many of the interviews, and related materials include films, terminology, background resources, and websites of interest. The two-fold purpose of the Dog Mushing Project is explained here, and wonderful historic photographs are included throughout.

PROJECT JUKEBOX: Dog Mushing in Alaska

 

 

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