In the early 1920's, settlers came to Alaska looking for gold. They traveled by boat to the coastal
towns of Seward and Knik, and from there by land into the gold fields. The trail they used totravel inland is known today as the Iditarod Trail, one of the National Historic Trails designated by the Congress of the United States. The Iditarod Trail quickly became a major thoroughfare in Alaska,as the mail and supplies were carried across this trail. People also used it to get from place to place, including the priests, ministers, and judges who had to travel between villages. In the winter,the settlers’ only means of travel down this trail was via dog sled.
Once the gold rush ended, many gold-seekers went back to where they had come from, and
suddenly there was much less travel onthe Iditarod Trail. The introduction of the airplane in the late 1920’s meant dog teams were no longer the standard mode of transportation, and of course with the airplane carrying the mail andsupplies, there was less need for land travel in general. The final blow to the use of the dog teams was the appearance of snowmobiles.
By the mid 1960's, most Alaskans didn’t even know the Iditarod Trailexisted, or that dog teams
had played a crucial role in Alaska’s early settlements. Dorothy G. Page, a self-made historian,
recognized how few people knew about the former use of sled dogs asworking animals and about the Iditarod Trail’s role in Alaska’s colorful history. To raise awareness about this aspect of Alaskan history, she came up with the idea to have a dog sled race over theIditarod Trail. She presented her idea to an enthusiastic musher, as dog sled drivers are known, named Joe Redington, Sr. Soon the Pages and the Redingtons were working together to promote the idea of theIditarod race.
Many people worked to make the first Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race a reality in 1967. The Aurora
Dog Mushers Club, along with men from the Adult Camp in Sutton, helped clear years...
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