Trail Mail

Honoring the Iditarod Trail’s use as a Mail Trail, mushers traditionally carry mail cachets down the trail as a part of their mandatory gear. 

According Katie Manglesdorf in her book, Champion of Alaskan Huskies –  Joe Redington Sr. Father of the Iditarod, having mail carried down the trail was always a part of the plan.

“Always striving to find ways to get the trail recognized, another idea was hatched at one of the many meetings. The Iditarod Trail was a mail trail, so why not have each musher carry mail? An arrangement was made with the U.S. Postal Service to carry cachets, packets of letters, over the Iditarod to Nome. Joe [Redington, Sr.] asked his artist friend, Bill Divine, if he would design an Iditarod Trail Logo for the envelopes. These would be postmarked in Anchorage and Nome and used as a fund-raising project.

At a prerace meeting this idea was presented to the mushers. Surprisingly, it was met with some resistance. There was already enough to do. Carrying mail was too much to ask. Joe did not react, he responded in a good way, and came up with a solution – “I‟ll carry yours,‟ was all he said.

“He was one of a kind,‟ said Norman. “Joe had such a unique, easy way of looking at things.‟

His positive attitude turned the whole negative thought around. To have the U.S. Postal Service support the Iditarod Race added credibility, recognition, and needed funds. And Devine‟s logo became the official Iditarod logo.” (page 185)

Starting with the 2021 Race, Trail Mail is being reimagined as an Educational Trail Mail program. A contest is being held for student designed artwork that will grace the trail mail envelopes carried by the mushers that will help carry on part of Joe’s dream.

Here are some examples of Trail Mail from the past. Click on each thumbnail to see a larger image.

1974 Front

1974 Back

1978

1991

1996

1997

1998 (Halter)

1998 (Osmar)

2001

2004

2005

2006

2007

   

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