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Posts Tagged ‘Mushing the Mail on the Iditarod Trail’

We are delighted to be combining this year’s Mushing History Conference with the Willow Dog Mushers Association’s K9 Athletes Symposium in Willow, Alaska. For your information here is a preliminary breakdown of the weekend schedule (subject to change) and ticket prices are below:

Click here for registration form
and complete information!

WDMA K9 Athletes Symposium
Saturday, September 25, 2010

ALL DAY – Gear Swap

Bring your unwanted dog gear and other miscellaneous items to sale, but please NO live animals for sale or trade. Bring photos and pedigrees instead. Gear Swap will take place in parking lot near Old Community Center next to the Willow Community Center starting at 10 am until whenever.

ALL DAY – Mushing History Museum

Sleds, gear, photos, posters, books and more – and lots of mushers talking about the colorful and important history of mushing, located in the Old Community Center log cabin next to the Willow Community Center starting at 10 am until everyone gets tired of talking about mushing! Special Presentation by Thomas Swan on “Dog Mushing in the Historical Northwestern Fur Trade.” Time TBA.

ALL DAY – Vendor Fair

Come and check out a variety of vendors. The vendor fair is open to the public free of charge from 10 am until 1 pm.

10:00 am – 12:15 pm – Hands-On Seminars

Hands-On Seminars will run TWICE for one hour so that you can take part in at least two different seminars. You can learn more about: How to Use a GPS – Vic Stanculescu, No Snow? No Problem! “Dirt Dogs”Alaska Skijor Club, Nose Work Demo / Weight Pull – Claudia Sihler / Judy Carrick, Canine Massage & Acupressure – Susan Whiton, Extreme Weather Outdoor Survival – Kent Kantowski, John Wilber and Debbie Moderow and Trap Release – Dave Korpi. These events will take place in different areas at the Willow Community Center.

• 1:00 pm- 2:00 pm –
Official Start of Sled-Dog Mini Symposium & Mushing History Conference

Keynote Speaker, Mary Shields

• 2:30 pm – 3:15 pm –

Program #1: Tips & Hints for Stretching Your Kennel Dollar
Greg Sellentin, Gayle Wood, Perry Solomonson, Erin McLarnon

Program #2: Police K9 Unit Demo

• 3:30 pm – 4:15 pm –

Program #1: Mental Toughness – The Human / Canine Connection with Jim Lanier, Claudia Sihler, Ellen Halvorson

Program #2: Frisbee Dogs

• 4:30 pm – 5:15 pm –

Program #1: Developing Leaders – with
Ed Wood, Greg Sellentin, Roxy Wright, others TBA

Program #2: Gun Dog / Retriever Demo – Baron Rae of Wetland Retrievers

• 5:30 pm – 6:15 pm –

Program: Pioneering Women Mushers & Their K9 Athletes:
Mary Shields, Roxy Wright, Rose Albert, Sue Firmin, others

• 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm – (separate ticket required)

Fundraising Dinner / Silent Auction / Film: Mary Shields, “Season of the Sleddog,” in the Willow Community Center

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Mushing History Conference

Sunday, September 26, 2010

ALL DAY – Gear Swap

Bring your unwanted dog gear and other miscellaneous items to sale, but please NO live animals for sale or trade. Bring photos and pedigrees instead. Gear Swap will take place in the parking lot near Old Community Center next to WCC starting at 10 am.

ALL DAY – Vendor Fair

Come and check out a variety of vendors.

ALL DAY – Mushing History Museum

Sleds, gear, photos, posters, books and more – and lots of mushers talking about the colorful and important history of mushing, relocated from Saturday to the new Willow Community Center, starting at 10 am.

ALL DAY – Mushing History Conference Schedule:

9:30 – 10:00 – Doors open, set-up displays, book tables, etc.
10:00 to 10:25 – Welcome, introductions, opening comments, etc.
10:30 to 11:25 – Dog Mushing in the Northwestern Fur Trade – Thomas Swan
11:30 to 12:25 – Mushing the Mail on the Iditarod Trail – Linda Chamberlain
12:30 to 1:25 – Lunch, viewing displays, visiting
1:30 to 2:25 – Women Mushers Panel – Roxy Wright, Rose Albert, Dee Dee Jonrowe, Sue Firmin, Kari Skogen
2:30 to 3:25 – Denali Park Kennels – Jennifer Raffaeli
3:30 to 3:45 – Break for 15 minutes
4:00 to 4:55 – Serum Run History – Erin McLarnon
5:00 to 5:55 – Iditarod Stories – Rod Perry
6:00 to 6:55 – Iditarod Trail History – Chas St. George
7:00 – Closing, breakdown, clean-up, visiting, etc.

Advance Registration (Saves you money! Respond before Sept. 10)

1 Day Pass: WDMA members: $20.00 (Juniors/under 18: $5.00)
non-members: $35.00 (Juniors/under 18: $5.00)

2 Day Pass: WDMA members: $30.00 (Juniors/under 18: $5.00)
non-members: $50.00 (Juniors/under 18: $5.00)

Fundraising Dinner/Movie/Silent Auction Saturday Nite $10.00
(not included with either 1 day or 2 day passes)

Click here for registration form
and complete information!

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This post is the third in a series of reports on the 2009 Mushing History Conference, which took place Nov 6-8 in Anchorage and Wasilla, Alaska. The first report in this series included the presentations of Tim White and Carol Beck. The second report described the display panels on mushing history from Denali National Park, and the presentation by Kevin Keeler, Administrator for the Iditarod National Historic Trail.

Dr. Linda Chamberlain

Dr. Linda Chamberlain of Homer, Alaska, is a scientist, author, professor, historian and dog musher, and she lives with her 20 Huskies and her husband, Al, on their 45-acre Howling Husky Homestead outside of Homer, Alaska. An epidemiologist specializing in childhood exposure to violence and brain development, Dr. Chamberlain has combined her public health career with her passion for dog mushing and rural living. During the summer months, she leads narrated tours of a circa 1910 wall tent, the sled dog kennel, and a living museum of dog mushing on their homestead. For her first book, Arctic Inspirations, she traveled from Alaska through the northern Canada and on to Siberia to gather stories of women starting businesses in the Arctic. She is currently working on a book called Mushing the Mail on the Iditarod Trail that traces the history of mail delivery by dog team in Alaska.

Collection of Linda Chamberlain

For the 2009 Mushing History Conference Dr. Chamberlain brought a presentation which traced the history of mail delivery by dog teams along the Iditarod Trail and the Kenai Peninsula, based on historical documents from the National Archives and Records Administration, the U.S. Postal Museum, the Alaska State Library, universities, museums and historical societies, interviews, private collections, and an extensive literature review.

While details on dog team mail carriers were sporadically and sparsely documented, Dr. Chamberlain has found many rich stories describing this dominant mode of transportation to deliver supplies and mail in Alaska from the late 1800s through the mid-twentieth century. Dr. Chamberlain described life on the trail of a Star Route Contract mail carrier and their dog team, and included many details about the types of dogs and equipment used, distances traveled, and the loads they carried. Her riveting stories of heroic deeds and tragedies on the trail provided a panoramic portrait of these postal pioneers and the Iditarod Trail that served as a lifeline between communities.

Rod Perry

Alaskan author, musher, filmmaker, adventurer and self-proclaimed raconteur Rod Perry brought a colorful exploration of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race to the Conference, beginning with an impressive freehand drawing of the state of Alaska, which he filled in with rivers, mountain ranges, towns and cities, and of course, the Iditarod Trail. Rod was one of the intrepid mushers making the 1,000 mile trek to Nome in the very first Iditarod in 1973, with his media darling of a lead dog, “Fat Albert,” showing the way. Rod has been chronicling the rich history of the race for his two-volume set of books titled Trailbreakers. He describes Trailbreakers Volume I on his website:

“…Daring men and dynamic events that force the lock and break of the silence of the unknown North. Gold rush leads to gold rush, trail leads to trail, until it culminates in the last, glorious, hell-bent-for-leather gold rush and the final great gold rush trail in North America.

Trailbreakers Volume I is the most-complete, most-accurate telling of how the fabled Iditarod Trail came to be. As it relates the 1840-1930 progression of events establishing the “Last Great Gold Rush Trail in North America,” the book educates and corrects long-standing myths and misinformation that have grown up.

Amongst the misinformation that has come down through the years, the very beginnings of the Iditarod Trail constitute some of the most interesting, and Rod addresses this at length in his book Trailbreakers, Volume 1. Rod explains how there were trails running north from Seward for about 200 miles to the Alaska Commercial post at Susitna Station, a steamboat stop on the Susitna River; and trails which coursed south from Nome, 300 miles to Kaltag on the Yukon river, over a popular route between Nome and Fairbanks; but in between the ends of those routes lay over 400 miles of little-used and rarely traveled terrain:

Did the natives of the trail route at one time or another travel every foot of the country over which the trail passes? Of course. Did they trade with one another? Absolutely. But were any of their trails of a character to constitute ready-made, connected, serviceable platforms for a direct trail between Susitna Station and Kaltag? Any close look into the situation strongly indicates that that is a most fanciful stretch.

Alaska 1915

This post is the third in a series of reports on the 2009 Mushing History Conference, which took place Nov 6-8 in Anchorage and Wasilla, Alaska. The first report in this series included the presentations of Tim White and Carol Beck. The second report described the display panels on mushing history from Denali National Park, and the presentation by Kevin Keeler, Administrator for the Iditarod National Historic Trail.

Still to come are the presentations by Joe Redington Jr., Jane Haigh, Jeff Dinsdale and Chas St. George, and contributions sent for presentation by Thomas ‘Swanny’ Swan and Alan Stewart.

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