Sunday, January 09, 2005

Balto the sled dog, in Timeline

Local author and History Day coordinator, John Vacha, has written an interesting article for the recent issue of Timeline, the glossy magazine of the Ohio Historical Society. I knew the basics of the story, about how Balto had been the heroic lead dog on the sled team that had dragged driver Gunnar Kaasen and 300,000 doses of serum through a blizzard and into Nome, Alaska, where a diphtheria epidemic raged. However, his article made fascinating reading about details I'd never known, concerning the role played by the other 150 dogs and 9 drivers in the 6-day, 674-mile Fairbanks-to-Nome dash and the subsequent campaign by Clevelanders to rescue Balto and his team from a miserable side-show fate they'd suffered in the following years. I found the photographs John provided -- some I knew of from our Cleveland Press Collection, but not others from Cleveland Public, the Library of Congress and the Ohio Historical Society -- particularly noteworthy. January 22nd will be the 80th anniversary of the initial telegraph from the Nome doctor in 1925, calling out for help, February 2nd is the anniversary date when Balto and Gunnar arrived in Nome and March 19th will be the 78th anniversary of the festivities welcoming Balto to his new home at the Cleveland Zoo, two years later. Balto died, was preserved by taxidermy and is now either at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, or out on loan to Alaska (I'm not sure which). [P.S. The Museum reports that Balto is home from Alaska and will be on display for this month's festivities.]

The Museum is planning a series of events around the Balto anniversary, which you can read about here.

You might also enjoy: (the author has provided some others)

  • Timeline, January/March issue, 2005, 54-69.

  • Balto article in the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

  • Balto images from the Cleveland Memory Project


At 9:36 AM, Blogger Sheila Benedum said...

I'm a blog-newbie, so this is my first posting. I really enjoyed your Balto article. Of course I've seen the cartoon (cry every time) and had seen the "real" Balto at the Ohio Historical Society but had totally forgotten he was there. He wasn't on display at the time but I was on a tour. I'm undecided about blogging as yet, but will keep you informed! Sheila


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