49th Running in the 49th State – Trail Reporting: Saturday, March 13th

Saturday, March 13th

Since it’s the weekend and all of my students are home, the trail reporting will look a little different for the next two days. Instead of video reports from my students, I will be typing up some of the most recent developments in the race. However, on Monday we will go back to  the student reporters.

Here are the GPS standings (usually reported by my students) as of 7:59AM (AKST)

  1. Dallas Seavey
  2. Brent Sass
  3. Aaron Burmeister
  4. Ryan Redington
  5. Joar Ulsom

      Current Red Lantern holder is Riley Dyche

Dallas Seavey at the start. Photo Credit: Dave Poyzer

Here are some of the most recent updates from the trail: 

  • We learned that heavy snow a few days ago forced race officials to alter the trail route and NOT got to Flat as originally planned. Now, Mother Nature is back at it again, and this time she is bringing the cold. Temperatures in Ophir were around -55ºF overnight on Friday.
  • The Iditarod Covid-19 teams will continue to test mushers at the checkpoints of McGrath, Rainy Pass and Skwentna on the return to the Deshka Landing and the finish line of Iditarod 49. The addition of testing at the McGrath checkpoint is a new change, likely as a result of the positive tests received from musher Gunnar Johnson a couple of days ago. 
  • Dallas Seavey was the first musher back into the checkpoint of Ophir, making him the recipient of the Lakefront Anchorage First Musher to the Yukon Award. As part of this award, Dallas will enjoy a 5 course dinner at the Lakefront Hotel (to be scheduled at a later date), $3,500 dollars in one dollar bills, and a bottle of champagne. The final 3 on trail awards will take place at the checkpoints of Rohn, Rainy Pass and Skwentna. 
  • Yesterday, Rick Casillo scratched at the Iditarod checkpoint in the best interests of his team. Rookie musher Christopher Parker also scratched yesterday while at the McGrath checkpoint citing the same reasons. The field is now down to 40 active mushers who are still on the course. 


Now that all of the mushers have reached Iditarod, here is another question that my students ask every year:

Why is it called a ghost town?

Ryan Redington coming into Iditarod. Photo Credit: Dave Poyzer

In the mind of a 9 year old, the term “ghost town” often conjures up images of old buildings in the “Wild West” with tumbleweeds blowing down the street. But looking at pictures with students helps explain that  a “ghost town” is simply just an abandoned town. 

More officially, the Merriam Webster dictionary defines a ghost town as: “a once-flourishing town wholly or nearly deserted usually as a result of the exhaustion of some natural resource”. 

This is exactly what happened to the towns of Iditarod and Flat, and that exhausted resource was gold. The discovery of gold in Iditarod in 1908 was Alaska’s last major gold rush. The Iditarod mining district was established and a town was built in 1910 to support it’s up to 3,000 residents. After the gold had been found and shipped out, so did the people. Now, there remains only the skeletons of buildings from a time that once was. 

Read more about the history of the gold strikes in Alaska here: https://www.blm.gov/sites/blm.gov/files/Programs_NLCS_Iditarod_Trail-Historic-Overview.pdf

Aaron Burmeister heading out of Iditarod. Photo Credit: Dave Poyzer

Travis Beals passed the ghost town of Iditarod. Photo Credit: Dave Poyzer











Teachers: Have your students research more about this incredible time of discovery, survival and the history of Alaska. In addition to the above resource, here are some other great resources put together by 2018 Teacher on the Trail, Heidi Sloan Primary and Secondary Sources