The Bellingham paper covered Seppala and his dogs'
activities on a daily basis. Some accounts said there were 20 dogs, others said 22 dogs.
Leonhard Seppala later said he had two teams, for a total of 20 dogs, while at Bellingham.
One event documented was a visit by the team to the
Normal School, a teachers' college, located at what is now Western Washington University.
The newspaper reported, in part: "With him in the sleigh, Mr. Seppola (sic) carried a
young dog that has not yet been broken in. It is....... all white dog, its only black
spots being the pupils of its eyes."
Seppala and his dogs left Bellingham on November 12.
Next stop -- Kansas City. They arrived there on November 16.
While Seppala was enroute from Bellingham, the Kansas
City papers created a mystique surrounding this fur-clad stranger and his dogs who were
coming to their city from "Icy Cape, Alaska" to deliver a message from Santa
Claus. Sightings of this mysterious stranger were reported at Billings, Montana; Cheyenne,
Wyoming, and Denver, Colorado.
The stop at Kansas City was a huge event. One report
said Seppala and his dogs drew larger crowds than those of a recent visit by the President
of the United States. The local newspapers reported that Seppala had "twenty-two
Alaskan huskies" with him. Twelve of the dogs were reportedly veterans of the 1925
Serum Run to Nome. One article provided the names of all the dogs as follows:
It is known that Fritz, the co-leader of the
team, was one of the dogs on the nationwide tour. There were photos of several of the dogs
in one of the Kansas City papers, taken at the time of the tour stop there. The dog
identified as Mukluk in one of the photos looks very much like Fritz. Nurmi, an
all-white male, was prominently featured in the local papers.
The last day of the scheduled events at Kansas City was
November 20. The next stop for the tour was Dayton, Ohio.
The tour team ".......made their official entry
into Dayton Thursday morning and will be on exhibition in Dayton and surrounding
cities......." according to a Dayton, Ohio news report. The Thursday morning referred
to was Thanksgiving Day, November 25. They were scheduled to be in the Dayton area for six
Again, as in Kansas City, Seppala and his dogs were met by immense
crowds. One article reported that Seppala had with him "his famous 20-dog team."
Another article, which included a photo, referred to Seppala "..........and His 22
Siberian Animals." The Rike-Kumler Company was a large department store in Dayton and
was the sponsor for Seppala's tour stop there.
The group also made a whirlwind tour of the outlying
areas around Dayton. One report said that Seppala and his dogs "took in 50 towns in
three days" and "he gave a ten minute talk" at each stop.
The Newcomb-Endicott Company, a large department store
in Detroit, Michigan, sponsored the next stop for the tour team. Seppala and his dogs
arrived at Detroit on December 2. The article which announced the pending arrival of the
team said that Santa Claus had forgotten a special bag of toys in Alaska. Santa didn't
want to disappoint the little boys and girls of Detroit, so he immediately sent for
Seppala and his team to deliver this bag to him.
A local newspaper reported that Seppala had "His
Famous Team of 20 Siberian Dogs" with him. He and his dogs would be on display every
day from 2 P.M. - 5 P.M. at the "Greater Toyland" section of the store.
While in Detroit, Seppala was challenged to participate
in a race covering a distance of a mile and a half. The name of the challenger was listed
by a local paper as "Boy-o-Blubber" - - further described as an "Eskimo who
came down from Icy Cape with Santa Claus and his reindeer..........to assist Santa at
Seppala told his opponent to pick out any ten of his
dogs to use in the race. Seppala would use the remaining ten dogs. He also gave the
challenger a 200-yard head start. The Seppala team won the race, with Togo in the lead. An
estimated 10,000 people attended this race.
The afternoon of December 8 was the last day of
appearances by the team at the Newcomb-Endicott store.
Providence, Rhode Island
The next stop was Providence, Rhode Island. Before
leaving Detroit, Seppala sent a telegram addressed to "Santa Claus, Outlet Happyland,
Providence, RI." The Outlet Company department store was the largest store in
Providence and was also the sponsor for the tour team. Part of that telegram said
"Leaving........with my twenty dog team........and they are tugging at their harness
anxious to be off to Outlet Happyland."
While enroute to Providence, Seppala sent another
telegraph to Santa Claus at the Outlet Company. This telegram read, in part:
"........all packed up now and........off again - - Oakee got into the dolls last
night and licked the paint off one little rubber boys head - - Rexeoff my older dog who
has made himself overseer of their conduct gave Oakee a severe scolding and himself
carried the little rubber boy to the place where...........he could be fixed."
The tour team arrived at Providence on December 10. The
first assignment for Seppala and the dogs was to visit some children at the Rhode Island
Hospital. Seppala brought all 20 dogs to the hospital, but ended up only taking four into
the children's ward. The local paper covered this event and the coverage included a
photograph of Seppala and the four dogs with Santa Claus and some of the children.
Seppala and his dogs were on display at the Outlet
Company on a daily basis - - from 10 A.M. - 1 P.M. and from 2 P.M. to 5:30 P.M. On a
particular day, the store recorded an attendance of 50,000 people who had come to see the
Seppala Invited to Race in New England
Arthur Walden, of Wonalancet, New Hampshire, was an
acccomplished breeder and racer of the Chinook dog breed. During the tour stop at
Providence, a reporter from the Boston Transcript newspaper introduced Walden to Leonhard
Seppala. Walden extended an open-ended invitation to Seppala to come to his farm and dog
kennel at Wonalancet to train for, and possibly participate in races in the New England
The team's last day of scheduled events in Providence
was on December 18.
Togo Honored with Gold Medal in NYC
New York City was the last major stop for the tour
team, where they spent about ten days. Seppala and his dogs paraded around various
locations in the city, including City Hall and Central Park. They made appearances at
Madison Square Garden.
|During one of these events, Roald Amundsen, a famous
Arctic explorer, presented Togo with a gold medal in recognition of his role in the 1925
While in New York City, Seppala decided to accept
Arthur Walden's offer to come to New England and participate in the dog race circuit
there. More on that in Part II.
Togo, Seppala's famous lead dog
Photo from webmaster's collection
End of Part I
Check back soon for Part II
Sources: Author Lance Jensen credits
the following as his major sources for this article on Leonard Seppala and his famed sled
dogs touring the Lower 48 in late 1926 and then racing in New England:
· Nome Nugget
· Seattle Daily Times
· Seattle Post-Intelligencer
· Bellingham Herald
· Kansas City Star
· Kansas City Times
· Dayton Herald
· Detroit News
· Providence Journal
· Boston Herald
· New York Times
© Copyright 2008, Lance Jensen
About the Author:
Lance Jensen is a Siberian Husky fancier who is
interested in learning and writing about the early history of the breed in the U.S.
He and his wife live in a rural farming area of Oregon with their Siberians and
Kuvasz. You can contact him via email at: sibekuv @ msn.com [remove the spaces].
WorkingDogWeb.com is grateful for the opportunity to publish his articles online.
Read Lance Jensen's story of "Togo's Final
Read Lance Jensen's story "Balto & Togo:
Goodby Nome!," click
Fritz, one of Seppala's lead
dogs, was part of the Lower 48 Tour described above.
To read the full story of the return of Fritz, the
Siberian Husky, influential in helping establish this breed of northern working dog, click here.
Photo courtesy of the Carrie M. McLain
Memorial Museum, Nome, Alaska
· A detailed Leonhard Seppala biography
and a brief biography of
Seppala, the famous Alaska musher from Norway
· Togo: entry in
· Photo of
Togo at Iditarod Headquarters, Wasilla, Alaska, included
on this blog page
discussing the Serum Run [scroll down]
another of Seppala's historic Siberian Husky, now displayed
at a Nome, Alaska, museum
· Balto and Togo: guide from
· Sled Dogs Were Lifesavers in the Serum Run
Heroes were Huskies, on the Serum Run, New York Times
· Siberian Husky World Online, guide from