The Alaska Railroad 1902-1923

ARR CoverThe Alaska Railroad: 1902-1923 , subtitled Blazing an Iron Trail Across The Last Frontier, shares the compelling story of the construction of the Alaska Railroad and its predecessors, from 1902, when John Ballaine built the Alaska Central Railroad; through 1923, when President Warren G. Harding drove the Alaska Railroad’s ceremonial Golden Spike in Nenana.

Bartlett Glacier postcard b:wThis 400-page book by Alaskan author Helen Hegener is a wide-ranging look at Alaska’s growth and development, and the many ways in which the railroad played a major role. From dynamiting the railbed out of the rocky cliffs along Turnagain Arm, to spanning the deep chasm of Hurricane Gulch, and from crossing the endless miles of muskeg swamp to bridging the mighty waters of the Tanana River, the story is told through historic documents, photographs, and publications.

Screen Shot 2017-05-18 at 12.15.19 PMThis is more than the story of constructing the railroad, however…. This is also the fascinating story of how the U. S. Government built towns and cities across the territory, including Seward, Anchorage, Palmer, Wasilla, Talkeetna, Nenana, and Fairbanks. It’s the story of coal mining in Alaska, from the Guggenheim Syndicate’s notorious attempted monopoly of Alaska’s resources, to the government’s own private coal mine to service the U.S. Naval fleet in the Pacific. It’s the story of steamboat travel on Alaskan rivers, and how the railroad’s own fleet of steamers and gas-powered “tunnel boats” came to dominate the watery transportation corridors. It’s the story of the role a fledgling conservation movement played in dividing a major political party. And it’s the story of how steam shovels which dug the Panama Canal were brought north to claw at Alaskan hillsides.

Screen Shot 2017-05-18 at 12.28.15 PMThe 500-mile long Alaska Railroad runs from the seaport town of Seward, on the Kenai Peninsula, to Fairbanks, the Golden Heart of Alaska. Along the way it crosses two formidable mountain ranges, several broad and daunting rivers, and numerous deep gorges and canyons. It winds along the tidewater edge of Turnagain Arm, past Bartlett and Spencer Glaciers, and skirts the highest point on the North American continent, the Great One, Denali. From running its own opulent luxury hotel—literally in the middle of nowhere—to developing the telephone, water, and sewer systems of Anchorage, the history of the railroad is largely the history of Alaska. Take a ride on the northernmost U. S. railroad, and gain an unusual perspective on a richly fascinating period in America’s past.   ~•~

 

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 for $24.00 plus $5.00 postage, by clicking here.

Kindle Edition now available.

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Alaskan Adventurer Mary Shields

mary-shields-06-16-10In 1974, the second year the 1,049-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race was run, Mary Shields became the first woman to finish the race, with the smallest team in the race (only eight dogs) and a part-Labrador lead dog named Cabbage. In her 1984 book, Sled Dog Trails (Alaska Northwest Publishing Co.), Mary explained how Cabbage got his name, as she described taking the train from her home beside the tracks to Talkeetna and finding homes for a box of puppies: “Within 24 hours I found homes for five of the pups. I returned home on the next day’s northbound, carrying just one fat black pup curled in the expanse of his previously crowded box. I called him Cabbage because he was so round and silly looking. His future owner could give him a reasonable name, but Cabbage would do until that time came.”

sled-dog-trails-cover-11-04-10The little black pup accompanied Mary to Mt. McKinley National Park (as it was known then), where she was planning to go backpacking before taking on a summer job. A Park Service ranger asked about the pup, saying they’d been looking for some new blood at the park’s kennels. But when Mary returned from her backpacking the ranger returned the little fellow, sadly explaining “…the tourists expect our dogs to look like malemutes.”

So little Cabbage stayed with Mary, and she and her team not only ran the Iditarod, but also ran in the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race and the Hope Race from Alaska to Siberia. But even more than competition, Mary enjoyed the freedom and pleasure of long trips with her dog team, exploring the wild country and meeting the people who live in the bush communities of Alaska. “Over the winter, the country taught me many lessons. Being by myself, I had time to watch and listen. I heard the singing of my own heart, the joys, the fears, the questions, the unanswerables. A peace filled me and gave me strength I had not known before.”

In Sled Dog Trails Mary opens with a quote from a poem by Robert Service, and she ends her book with another, “…the freshness, the freedom, the farness…” familiar to lovers of the far north. She explains: “‘The freedom’ was the decision to take my time; to make the day, the seasons, the years full of meaning. Understanding the country from the back of a dog sled gave me a comfortable feeling of being at home in the wilderness.”

season-of-sled-dog-video-11-04-10Mary has written five books, and she was the subject of a PBS feature video, Season of the Sled Dog, which shares Mary’s Alaskan lifestyle, celebrating the huskies in their everyday life, on the long race, and on a spring trip. Besides Sled Dog Trails, Mary’s books include Small Wonders: Year-Round Alaska, which is Mary’s journal sharing nature’s cycles and the quiet life in a cabin in the Alaskan woods (featured on Will Curtis’ “The Nature of Things” on NPR), and her books for younger readers include What’s a Shrew to You?, a rhyming picture book illustrated by Jon Van Zyle, and the international award winner, The Alaskan Happy Dog Trilogy.

aktrail_logo_largeIf you’re visiting Fairbanks be sure to plan a trip to Mary’s kennel for her ‘Alaskan Tails of the Trail‘ tour, which she describes at her website. After a stroll through her vegetable and flower garden, you’ll meet her family of huskies, big freighting dogs, and then, as Mary explains, “After you see a winter camp, and learn how I fell in love with sled dogs way back in 1969, we’ll go in the cabin and have some refreshments. After getting comfortable around the kitchen table I’ll compare the Yukon Quest and the Iditarod, and share with you how I felt to cross the finish line as the first woman to ever complete the race. Then, I’ll recount the greatest adventure of my life so far—the 1,200-mile Hope ’91 journey through Siberia.”

All of Mary Shields’ books, and her video, can be ordered directly from her at Pyrola Publishing.

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Iditarod: The First Ten Years

BookCoverBluePlease click here to help put a copy of this book in every Alaskan school – even a $5.00 donation will help put more books into our schools!

Iditarod: The First Ten Years is a tremendous compilation of history from many of the mushers, friends, families, volunteers, news reporters, photographers, artists and others who helped make The Last Great Race a reality during those heady, wild, exciting, unforgettable early years, from 1973 to 1983. These are the stories of how the race began and then continued, the important foundational years when planning for and making the race happen was as exciting an event as the race itself.

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Joe Redington and Dick Mackey [photo courtesy of Iditarod The First Ten Years]

This beautifully illustrated book, compiled and edited by the folks who were there (who call themselves The Old Iditarod Gang), highlights the inaugural race in 1973, when Joe Redington Sr.’s dream became a reality, along with the next nine races which kept that dream alive. It shares the adventures of the volunteers who made the race possible, the pilots who created the Iditarod Air Force, and the veterinarians who kept the dogs healthy, or mended and healed them when the inevitable happened. It tells the story of the Alaskan Native mushers who brought their incredible wealth of dog lore and knowledge to bear and won the race, and placed well, and taught others how to care for and train and race dogs. It gives the background tales of checkpoints, landmarks, towns and villages, rivers and mountains along the way to Nome. It shares the sometimes harrowing, sometimes hilarious stories of the news reporters and photographers who were tasked with keeping up with it all, year after year, and whose images and reporting helped make the race what it is today, a worldwide phenomenon.

Screen Shot 2017-03-16 at 8.37.18 PMNow the promoters of this excellent book would like to see a copy in every Alaskan school, so the children who will be carrying on the work and the traditions of the race- and perhaps racing their own team to Nome! – will have this inspiring and educational volume available to read. At their GoFundMe page they state: “It is generally a good and decent thing to be a part of the education of deserving young students, to help them along the way, to help them broaden their horizons and to enhance their awareness of the good things around them. “Reading is a Lifelong Journey” (and necessity) in the pursuit of knowledge! For anyone interested in investing in something meaningful, won’t you join us in our quest to place Iditarod The First Ten Years in every school library around the state?”

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Still Crazy After All These Years

Still Crazy After All These Years

by Helen Hegener with Rod Perry

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Rod Perry and leader Fat Albert, 1973

Adventure has been a way of life for Rod Perry of Chugiak, Alaska. Now seventy-four, an age when most are slowing way down if not sitting still, Rod has caught another gear and is speeding up.

Perry grew up in Oceanside, Oregon. With the surf pounding out his front door and thousand-year-old forests in back, and with a winter population of just 175 in the 1950s, the little village provided an idyllic setting for an outdoors-crazy kid like Rod to develop. Learning of woods lore was greatly enhanced by a father who never wore a pair of shoes until age twelve, only Sarcee moccasins, having grown up on a homestead and trapline in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies where his father’s hunting and trapping partners were of that First Nations people.

Rod attended Tillamook, Oregon schools, then Oregon State University. In 1967, with a wildlife management degree in his pocket, he put Oregon in his rear-view mirror and headed for Alaska. “Where else could I have gone for my kind of self-expression?”  reflects Perry. “Had I stayed out in America (as he calls the contiguous states) my life would have been dull as dishwater. God didn’t wire me that way.”

Through the years his employments have included work on a moose research project, guiding big game hunters, and operating his commercial fishing boat in the high-risk, high reward waters of Bristol Bay, the world’s richest salmon fishery.

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Rod Perry today

Rod conceived and filmed the iconic Alaska motion picture classic, ‘Sourdough,’ starring his late father, Gil Perry. With son rolling film, dad played an aged trapper and prospector attempting to live out a disappearing lifestyle amidst a dying old-time Alaska. Perhaps no other motion picture which toured the world’s theaters ever started with less. Gil had never acted, Rod had never produced a film, and they began with barely two nickels to rub together. Never hesitant to go where only fools dare to tread, Rod dove headlong into the several-year-long project without a hint of filmmaking experience. In its place was a humble confidence in his God-given artistic sense and a feel for how to craft a magnetically romantic tale of the Old North.

A rough draft version toured Alaska to record-breaking crowds and was shown in Rod’s former Oregon screen-shot-2017-03-05-at-11-46-06-pmhometown. Then Hollywood’s Albert S. Ruddy (‘The Godfather,’ ‘The Longest Yard,’ many others) engineered the final edit. Since 1977 ‘Sourdough’ has quite likely been seen by more theater goers, TV audiences, and home video watchers than any film ever made in Alaska.

Rod Perry once rode a wild moose, and he has weathered several close shaves with charging grizzlies. But he waves those off as topics unworthy of more than passing mention. What he really likes to recount are his wild adventures by dog team. He has freighted sled loads of supplies for climbers up onto the flanks of Denali. A memorable trip took him to visit Eskimo friends. Mushing north around the frozen shores of the Bering and Chukchi Seas, he stayed a day or two in each little village. On the way, from one high overlook at the tip of the Seward Peninsula, he could see the coast of Siberia across the Bering Straits. The trip ended far above the Arctic Circle.

His most daring trek was to bring twenty-two sled dogs out to the highway system from the remote cabin where he had been living. It would have cost the lives of the small group Perry led if they failed to make it through before their almost thousand pounds of dog and human food ran out.

“Once we traveled beyond a point of no return,” recalls Rod, “it was make it all the way through or die. Out there in that vast trackless country between Mount Denali and the Yukon River there was no trail; we had to make our own. If we had fallen, no one would have known where the wolves and ravens picked our bones.

“It was about 175 grueling miles to the highway system, route-finding by map and compass, cutting our way by axe and bow saw, and breaking trail by snowshoe in front of the dogs. Camps far below zero were made each night wherever darkness overtook us. Only two pieces of canvas comprised our shelter, but that’s enough if you know how.

“We reached the highway the morning of the eighteenth day. Our food had run out the night before.”

Almost eight hundred individuals have completed Alaska’s Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Of their number, those who have taken such a lengthy wilderness trip as Rod’s, and have done it on their own outside of an organized race structure where trail and supplies are established, can be counted on the fingers of one hand.

And so Rod was drawn like a moth to a flame to test drive what would go on to be known the world over as “The Last Great Race on Earth.”

“Recalling the moment I first learned of plans to stage such a stupendous thing as the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race still makes the hair on the back of my neck stand on end,” says Rod. “I almost levitated. I could no more turn away from being among the intrepid band that pioneered it than turn down my next breath.

“It was an incredible departure from the standard sled dog racing model of short dashes over manicured trails near towns and villages. The plan was so audacious few thought it could be brought off. According to common opinion, for us to plunge headlong by dog team into a thousand-mile crossing of wild Alaska, in the dead of an arctic winter, was sure proof we were fools.”

With virtually zero belief on the streets in what sounded like a cockamamie goat-rope of an impossible dream, race founder Joe Redington and his few true believers found it impossible to raise adequate funding. But funded or not they were determined to go. With logistical help thin, emergency help non-existent, and organization barely enough to hold things together, Joe needed a seasoned field of veteran bush travelers used to going it alone in Alaska’s winter wilderness. And that’s exactly who came to the starting line—gold prospectors, trappers, big game guides, homesteaders, bush pilots, and, most notably, the final trailing edge of Alaska’s great (pre-snowmachine) Native dog men. Since that first race in 1973, no field of their likes has ever been assembled to run the Iditarod.

“Had we failed, we would have only proven the skeptics correct, erasing the thin amount of credibility we had. That would have made it impossible for even the slight funding Joe had scraped up to be gathered for a second try,” says Perry, “and the event would have died right there.”

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Rod Perry, 1973 Iditarod start  ©Anchorage Daily News

But those hard-to-kill trailsmen, with Iditarod’s very future riding precariously on their shoulders, did not fail. From their glorious success the race would grow to become Alaska’s most world-famous annual event. And although that trailblazing first run through to Nome would go down as the greatest Iditarod adventure of all time, no telling solely about their wild and crazy, sometimes bizarre passage has ever found its way to the screen.

A few years back, Rod was gripped by what a shame it is that the chance to tell the story in that powerful, ‘I was there, I did it’ dynamic is dying as one after the other of Iditarod’s original mushers slip away. With only a dozen of the original entrants left, Rod became more and more driven to do something about preserving the tale.

Rod thought, “What are the chances that one of the elite group of first Iditaroders would be an author (‘TRAILBREAKERS—Pioneering Alaska’s Iditarod,’ available at www.rodperry.com ) and a veteran filmmaker? And then what are the odds that an Academy Award nominated filmmaker, Buzz Rohlfing, would walk up out of the blue and suggest we collaborate on a First Iditarod film? God must be tapping me on the shoulder.”

Now Rod Perry has plunged headlong into filming, with Buzz Rohlfing, ‘TRAILBREAKERS—The Men of Seventy-Three.’

“It’s gonna blow people away!” exclaims Perry, excitement in his voice and glinting from his eyes. “That first race was so one-of-a-kind, there’s the 1973 Iditarod, and then there are the other forty-four. I’ve chuckled that it was about as foreign-sounding to today’s racers and as distant from today’s race as if it was the tale of Jason and the Argonauts’ voyage in quest of the Golden Fleece!”

There was very little media coverage of that first race, because there was so much skepticism that the 1973 event could be brought off. Once many of the racers returned to their remote homes and villages, most of their stories never saw print, much less the screen. But down through the decades, the hints and whispers that have seeped out from the backwoodsmen who ran it have clothed that incredible odyssey with an alluring aura of rich fables and untold mystery, tantalizingly dangling just beyond reach.

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Rod’s video for Kickstarter

Perry and Rohlfing’s campaign to raise essential funding is kicking off with the start of this 2017 Iditarod. Go to Kickstarter.com  for a view of Rod pitching the film. More information is available at the film’s website, www.menof73.com. Those who heed Rod Perry’s call to jump on his sled runners and ride along on the filming adventure are in for a wild, educational ride into the Iditarod’s glorious untold past.
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Great Trail Dogs

“For years, with great dogs, I toiled and often with them was in great perils. Much of my work was accomplished by their aid. So I believe in dogs, and here in this book I have written of some of them and their deeds.”
~Egerton Ryerson Young, in My Dogs In The Northland (1902)

 

Balto Central Park

The Central Park statue of Balto, one of many dog heroes of the 1925 Serum Run to Nome.

The BLM Alaska website is a trove of mushing history, with excellent articles on the Iditarod National Historic Trail and related topics. An addition to the site last year is a page on Famous Trail Dogs, a salute to some of the famous and not-so-famous sled dogs who traveled the Iditarod Trail and others in Alaska’s storied past. Edited by Helen Hegener, the page shares information about stalwart canines such as Togo, Fritz, Baldy, Kolyma, Wolf and others, whose lead-dog skills and great hearts helped shape the history of Alaska. Here are their photos, for their stories, click on the link to the BLM site above.

Baldy of Nome oval copy

Baldy of Nome

Fritz in Nome copy

Fritz

Gunnar_Kaasen_with_Balto copy

Balto, with Gunnar Kaasen

Wolf

Wolf

Slim and Rembrandt

Rembrandt, with Slim Williams

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Kolyma (left) with ‘Iron Man’ Johnson

Togo sitting

Togo

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The Men of ’73

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Rod Perry and leader, Fat Albert, 1973

In March of 1973, filmmaker, author, and Iditarod historian Rod Perry ran his dogteam in the very first Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska. Now Rod is seeking to preserve the story of that very first race in a documentary film based on the inaugural running.

The First Iditarod: The Amazing Dogs and Their Mushers will be a collection of interviews with the men who ran the first Iditarod in 1973, sharing their memories of the first running of The Last Great Race.

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Rod Perry today

Adventure has been a way of life for Rod Perry. Now seventy-four, an age when most are slowing way down if not sitting still, Rod has caught another gear and is speeding up. Perry grew up in Oceanside, Oregon, with the surf pounding out his front door and thousand-year-old forests in back, providing an idyllic setting for an outdoors-crazy kid like Rod to develop. He went to Oregon State University, and in 1967, with a degree in wildlife management in his pocket, Rod headed for Alaska. “Where else could I have gone for my kind of self-expression?”  reflects Perry. “Had I stayed out in America (as he calls the contiguous states) my life would have been dull as dishwater, but God didn’t wire me that way.”

screen-shot-2017-03-05-at-11-46-06-pmRod conceived, wrote, and filmed the iconic Alaska motion picture classic, Sourdough, starring his late father, Gil Perry. With the son roiling film, dad played an aged trapper and prospector attempting to live out a disappearing lifestyle amidst a dying old-time Alaska. Perhaps no other motion picture that toured the world’s theaters ever started with less, but since 1977 Sourdough has been seen by more theater goers, TV audiences, and home video watchers than any film ever made in Alaska.

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Rod Perry, 1973 Iditarod

And now Rod seeks to tell the story of the first Iditarod. From the inaugural running in 1973 the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race has grown to become Alaska’s most world-famous annual event. Although that trailblazing run to Nome would go down as the greatest Iditarod adventure of all time, the full story has never been told on film. Because there was so much skepticism that the 1973 event could even be brought off, there was very little media coverage, and once many of the racers returned to their remote villages, most of the stories never saw print, much less the screen. But down through the decades, the hints and whispers that have seeped out from the backwoodsmen who ran it have clothed that incredible odyssey with an alluring aura of untold mystery dangling just beyond reach. Rod notes, “That first race was so one-of-a-kind, there’s the 1973 Iditarod, and then there are the other forty-four. I’ve chuckled that it was about as foreign-sounding and distant from today’s race as if it was the tale of Jason and the Argonauts’ voyage in quest of the Golden Fleece.”

screen-shot-2017-03-05-at-11-57-39-pm

Rod’s video for Kickstarter

Information about the fundraising effort for this documentary film can be found on Kickstarter.com, and at the film’s website, menof73.com. A film of this caliber needs funding and support from those who recognize the importance of preserving this unique sled dog history. Those who heed Rod Perry’s call to jump on his sled runners and ride along on this great filming adventure are in for a wild, educational ride into Iditarod’s untold past!
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The First Iditarod

New First IditarodThe First Iditarod: Mushers’ Tales from the 1973 Race, by Helen Hegener

“We got a storm back about Rainy Pass and the trail was covered over; we had no trail, so Victor Kotongan, Bud Smyth and I spent about three days walking, somewhere near the headwaters of the Rohn River…” -Ken Chase

“Herbie Nayokpuk and I were at Farewell Lake and it started snowing. I mean it was like a major snowstorm, and we were running down the trail and all of a sudden you couldn’t find the trail anymore! We got into this real thick brush and we stopped and turned around and we looked and we’d totally lost the trail.” -Bill Arpino

The First Iditarod shares the story of the first running of The Last Great Race through the words of mushers who made that first journey to Nome in 1973, captured in recorded and videotaped interviews conducted by the author over a span of several years.

Published in March, 2015 by Northern Light Media. 154 pages. $20.00 plus $5.00 shipping and handling to U.S. addresses only (foreign readers please order via Amazon). Click on the book title or the link above to order via PayPal or with a credit card. Also available at Amazon, eBay, and your local independent bookstores. Postal orders can be mailed to Northern Light Media, Post Office Box 870515, Wasilla, Alaska 99687-0515.

The Kindle edition of this book is formatted as a print replica Kindle book, which maintains the rich formatting and layout of the print edition, while offering many of the advantages of standard Kindle books. Features include a pop-out and linked table of contents, page numbers matching the print edition, the ability to zoom in or pan out on a page, and search, copy, and paste features. Visit the Kindle store on Amazonto preview a sample of the book or to order your own copy today for only $5.99 (Kindle MatchBook $2.99)!

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The Yukon Quest

YQ Front CoverThe Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race spans some of the harshest and most beautiful winter territory anywhere: 1,000 miles between Fairbanks, Alaska and the city of Whitehorse in Canada’s Yukon Territory.

Known as ‘The World’s Toughest Sled Dog Race,’ it’s an event like no other. Run every February, the race is phenomenally challenging, crossing four mountain ranges, including the dangerous and intimidating 3,685-foot Eagle Summit, as it loosely follows the course of the mighty Yukon River.

Dyan Bergan's lead dog at the finish in Fairbanks, 2013. [Eric Vercammen/Northern Light Media]

[Eric Vercammen/Northern Light Media]

The Yukon Quest Trail, by Helen Hegener, takes readers checkpoint by checkpoint from Fairbanks to Whitehorse, an extraordinary journey in which the author shares insights and details of the trail, along with the incredible history of both the race and the wild and beautiful land it crosses. Over 180 photographs by the author and by photographers Eric Vercammen and Scott Chesney provide an unparalleled look at the trail, the mushers, the dogs and more. Also included are Trail Notes for Mushers, detailing the route in both directions, compiled by two-time Yukon Quest Champion John Schandelmeier.

YQ Front CoverThe Yukon Quest Trail: 1,000 Miles Across Northern Alaska and the Yukon Territory, text and photographs by Helen Hegener, additional photos by Eric Vercammen and Scott Chesney; with 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″ full color format, bibliography, maps, indexed. $29.00 (plus $5.00 shipping and handling). Click on the image to order.

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2017 Sled Dog Race Calendar

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• January 6 – Gin Gin 200 – Paxson, Alaska

• January 7 – Tahquamenon Country – Newberry, Michigan

• January 7 – Knik 200 (Joe Redington Sr. Memorial) – Knik, Alaska

• January 7 – La Grande Odyssée Savoie Mont BlancLes Carroz, France

• January 8 – Knik 100 (Bruce Braden) – Knik, Alaska

• January 9 – Gunflint Mail Run – Grand Marais, Minnesota

• January 14 – Copper Basin 300 – Glennallen, Alaska

• January 14 – Darby Dog Derby – Darby, Montana

• January 18 – Eagle Cap Extreme – Joseph, Oregon

• January 20 – Kuskokwim 300 – Bethel, Alaska

• January 20 – Two Rivers 200/100 – Two Rivers, Alaska

• January 21 – Gold Rush Trail Sled Dog Mail Run – Quesnel, British Columbia

• January 27 – Northern Lights 300 – Big Lake, Alaska

• January 27 – Wyoming Stage Stop – Jackson, Wyoming

• January 28 – Tustumena 200 – Kasilof, Alaska

• January 29 – John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon – Duluth, Minnesota

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• February 3 – Willow 300 – Willow, Alaska

• February 4 – Wilderness – Greenville, Maine

• February 4 – Yukon Quest International – Whitehorse, Yukon

• February 4 – Yukon Quest 300 – Whitehorse, Yukon

• February 10 – Willow Jr. 100 – Willow, Alaska

• February 11 – Race to the Sky – Seeley Lake, Montana

• February 11 – Knik-Goose Bay 150 – Knik, Alaska

• February 16 – American Dog Derby – Ashton, Idaho

• February 17 – UP200 – Marquette, Michigan

• February 18 – International North Hope – Neya, Kostroma region, Russia

• February 21 – Canadian Challenge – Prince Albert, Saskachewan

• February 25 – Jr. Iditarod – Willow, Alaska

• February 26 – Caledonia Classic – Fort St. James, British Columbia

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• March 4 – Iditarod Trail – Anchorage, Alaska

• March 4 – Can-Am Crown International – Fort Kent, Maine

• March 11 – Finnmarkslopet – Alta, Norway

• March 18 – Hudson Bay Quest – Churchill, Manitoba

• March 23 – Percy DeWolfe Memorial Mail Race – Dawson City, Yukon

• March 24 – Nome-Council 200 – Nome, Alaska

• March 25 – Tobacco Trail – Kiruna, Sweden

• March 25 – Canadian Championship Dog Derby – Yellowknife, NWT

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• April 6 – Kobuk 440 – Kotzebue, Alaska

Please send changes, additions or updates to helenhegener@gmail.com

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A Dog-Puncher on the Yukon

Dog-PuncherPeople sometimes ask me which musher in history is my favorite, and it’s a tough choice, as there have been some truly amazing mushers (and I write about many of them in my book Alaskan Sled Dog Tales), but one which is always near the top of my list is Arthur Treadwell Walden, author of “A Dog-Puncher on the Yukon.” Walden is rarely mentioned without reference to his great sled dog Chinook, for the dog helped cement Walden’s reputation and renown as a musher, breeder, and trainer of the highest caliber.

Arthur and his wife Kate bred and raised the magnificent Chinook, born in January, 1917, at Walden’s Wonalancet Farm near Tamworth, New Hampshire. Chinook, for which the breed was named, made headlines around the world with victories in the first international sled dog race in 1922, and the breed was later hailed as the freighting dogs on Admiral Byrd’s 1928-29 expedition to Antarctica. Much has been written about Arthur Walden and his dogs, and several online articles are linked below this photo.

Walden and Chinook

“Adventurer Arthur T. Walden with his sled dog Chinook at the Winter Carnival in Portland, Maine. This photograph was published on the front page of the Portland Evening Express on February 11, 1922, the same year Chinook led Walden’s team to victory in the first Eastern International Dog Derby, on his way to becoming the most famous dog in America.” 

Read more:

Northern Light Media: Biography of Arthur Treadwell Walden

Wikipedia: Arthur Treadwell Walden

New England Historical Society: Arthur Walden and A Dog’s Life of Adventure

Cowhampshire Blog: Walden Biographical details

Seppala Kennels: Arthur T. Walden

The Chinook Owners Association: Arthur Walden history

The Laconia Daily Sun (3-part history): The Most Famous Dog in the World

Intervale Chinooks: History of the Chinook Dog

 Downeast Magazine: Leader of the Pack

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