Wake up the ghosts, the dogs are coming

Yes, thats right, its nearly Iditarod Race Time again. The parade through Anchorage is next Saturday, and the long trek to Nome starts a week today.

But why the comment about waking up the ghosts, and the aptness of the video, you ask? Well, quite simply, for the first time in 5 years, the race actually is going to go through the town its named after, Iditarod. Normally this would happen every 2 years (so should have been 2015, and 2017), but due to climate change, and the lack of snow in the areas at the start of the race, the last 2 southern route events, have been even further north events, with the restart in Fairbank, and a revised first half of the route, which then made using the southern section a no go!

Therefore the decision has been made, that this year, as well as next year (which would be normal route), that the decision would be to go south, via Iditarod. Now strictly, its defined as a ghost town, as no one lives there any more. In truth, beyond about 1920’s hardly anyone, bar the odd trapper lived there, once the gold rush was over. Supposedly someone lived there, trapping, until the turn of the century, but then he decided the place had got a ‘bit lively’ with the dog race arriving once every 2 years, and he left town!

Supposedly, and unsurprisingly, the town is supposed to be haunted by some who lived there, over 100 years ago now. How true that is, no idea? But its fun to believe it, I guess?

No, I will never visit Iditarod, the only traffic through the place nowadays that is known about, is this dog race, and I’m not taking part in that! And I’m way past an age where I’m volunteering to help out, given the crazy freezing temperatures in that area of the world at this time of year. Anchorage? Well, maybe, assuming my back, and my body lasts until 2024, and retirement, because thats my planned reward to myself for getting that far inĀ  life. I will need to take a break somewhere en route, both ways for sure, but if I’m not working…? Nome, I’d love to, on a day trip, or an overnight flight stay while there, just to say I’d been there, but I doubt it. Mind, if I do, I’ll go more in summer than in winter! Brr!

But yes, if there are ghosts in Iditarod, and they’ve been enjoying the peace for 5 years, they’re in for a shock in the next couple of weeks! The humans, and dogs, are returning again, after so long.

Many years ago, I did use this song, when discussing Alaska, and the race before, but that was about 4 years ago. And anyway, this is a newer, live edition, not the one I used back then

Advertisements

Like a ghost town

Lets get in another Iditarod related piece before the race is over. I know, it wont happen until next week, but I have only 1 chance in the next 9 days to blog, so lets go with it, while I can.

About a century ago, give or take a few years, Iditarod had a population of about 10,000 people. Nearby Flat, had a number between 6-8,000 depending on tales, and given their proximity, there may have been some double counting in there. On what is now the northern race route, was a much smaller community, Ophir, that got to between 100, and 200 people living in the area.

Now all have one thing in common, all are ghost towns. Iditarod was the first one to go, despite having been the largest, by the mid 1930’s, it was all but gone. Though strict ghost status only dates to this century, when the last trapper moved out of one of the derelict buildings, when he reckoned that the race coming through every 2 years made the place too lively for comfort!

Ophir survived the war years, but somewhere around the early 50’s, the gold ran out, and so did the last few people surviving there, heading for other points presumably?

Flat actually survived as a community until 10 years ago, though by then the population had dropped to 5! Then the post office closed, and like the mail, people no longer came to town. Funnily enough, the only one of the three not visited by the race, though I suspect a few trappers and the like, still make use of the buildings there.

I have no idea what its like to live in anywhere like the Alaskan wilderness of these areas, nor do I really want to, unless someone wants to provide an internet connection to the area lol! As for what it was like, a century ago, in the depths of winter, I hate to think.

But, at least all these places were once a community. Even more uniquely, there is one checkpoint en route, that only ever has people there when the race comes through, every 2 years! Cripple only exists as a checkpoint, to break up what would otherwise be nearly a 150 mile stretch between Ophir, and Ruby, not really practical. Its supposedly in one of the coldest spots in Alaska, in winter, and thats saying something! Probably why no one lives there!

I must admit, there is a perverse side of me that would love to visit Iditarod, just to see what its like now, and to imagine what it was like, just over a century ago, when the gold rush started there. Probably never will get there, but, until I know its out of the question, I can dream.

The video, a tribute to two tone music, and a comment on the Thatcher years over here, as well as an offering to these places