Visit Mile 0 of the Famous Iditarod Trail

Iditarod Trail Mile Marker 0
Iditarod Trail Mile Marker 0 | Photo Credit: Adobe Stock- jscott
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The Iditarod Trail is home to one of the world’s most famous dog sled races every year, but its origins have deep ties to the small fishing harbor community of Seward. In fact, the 2,300 mile trail system once began in this city and its “Mile 0” post still stands today to commemorate the brave people and dogs who faced the trail to transport goods and even save lives. Some of the most famous stories of the trail have been told in movies and books about two legendary dogs, Balto and Togo.

About

The Native peoples of Alaska started the trail system that would later become the iconic Iditarod Trail. Their trails were founded by the need for transit and hunting. When settlers began flocking to the region in search of gold during Alaska’s Gold Rush, the need for fast transportation of goods and materials became essential for life in the rugged frontier.

In 1908, four workers and some trusty dogs with the Alaska Road Commission plotted and labeled mile markers along what would formally become the Iditarod Trail. The trail started with Mile 0 in Seward and ended in Nome. The trail wove through mining camps, small communities and trading posts to provide resources to those without access to convenient roads. In the winter months, the trail could be passed with dog sleds over frozen rivers and bogs.

Dogs Ready to Head out on Iditarod Trail c.1914
Sled dogs ready to head out on Iditarod Trail in Seward, Alaska c.1914 | Photo Credit: Wikimedia – Public Domain

When World War I broke out, many young prospectors were called away to war and the demand for items became to dwindle. In 1924, the usage of planes came to the region to deliver packages and mail via air. This new technology would eventually make the Iditarod Trail and sled dogs unnecessary by the early 1930s. However, the trail got one final claim to fame.

Nome, Alaska experienced a tragic outbreak of diphtheria in 1925 that required serum to treat the infected. However, the cold temperatures and brutal winter weather made airmail impossible. It was determined the only way to save many people in Nome, was to use sled dogs via the Iditarod Trail. Several volunteers and their dogs hitched up the sleds with medicine from Nenana to Nome, a 674 mile trek.

Two famous sled dogs of this time included Balto and Togo, who were made famous for their endurance on the daunting journey to deliver serum to Nome’s sick residents. In fact, movies have been made about the dogs that share their tale.

Today, the Iditarod Trail has continued the legacy of these brave dog sled teams with the annual Iditarod Sled Dog Race. The race travels 1,049 miles from Anchorage to Nome and takes an average of 8-15 days. Although Seward is no longer a part of this iconic trail race, there are several hiking trails that allow hikers to experience parts of the trail in the summer months.

Dog sled team on the Iditarod Trail, Alaska
Dog sled team on the Iditarod Trail, Alaska | Photo Credit: Shutterstock – Kirk Geisler

Plan Your Visit

Mile 0 of the Iditarod Trail in Seward is located in Waterfront Park off Railway Ave in downtown Seward. The monument marker is free to visit and views from the spot offer magnificent photo opportunities of the city and Resurrection Bay. The park is also a popular spot to whale watch from land.

If you enjoyed reading this post or have visited Seward before, leave a comment below or share this post on your favorite social media!

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