This is the story of the Iditarod Trail. Many people confuse the Trail with the now-famous Iditarod Race, but the two are quite distinct. In fact, the Trail began around 1911 in Seward at Mile 0, and the race began about 130 miles north in 1973, in Anchorage.
The trail did go all the way to Nome because the Alaska Road Commission spent $10,000 to construct a Seward-to-Nome trail. Col. Goodwin began in Nome in November 1910 and moved south along his previous trail for the most part. He arrived in Seward on February 25th, 1911, with 10 men and 42 dogs.
One reason for the start of the Trail was the discovery of gold in Alaska. It is said that ten thousand stampeders rushed to mining camps along the trail during that era. The district of Iditarod was responsible for the name of the trail, and it was a destination for gold miners. There was the Nome to Iditarod trail and the Iditarod to Seward trail. Much gold was carried by sled dog along the trail to the Wells Fargo bank in Seward.
Another one of the first uses of the Iditarod Trail was for carrying mail of the USA. The first mail contract to Iditarod ran from Nulato , a branch run of the Valdez - Fairbanks Nome route. In 1914, Colonel Harry Revel received the first contract to carry the winter mail from Seward to Iditarod.
Another event that people associate with the Iditarod Trail was the famous serum run to Nome. In 1925, Nome had a diphtheria outbreak and not enough serum to inoculate the community. So when the people of Nome needed more serum to get well from diphtheria, a part of the Iditarod Trail was used to deliver it, but not all the way from Seward by sled dogs. Twenty dogs mushers relayed the serum 674 miles from Nenana to Nome – by way of the Iditarod trail – in about 5 days. A little known fact is that there were two serum runs, and the second delivery of serum did originate in Seward by boat, but then was carried by train as far as it could go. Then the rest of the trip happened by sled dog across the Iditarod Trail.
In 1978, Congress established the Iditarod National Historic Trail, along with three other American pioneering routes. This is a real honor.