Iditarod Dog Sled used by Libby Riddles

Description (Brief)
Wooden dog sled made by the North Star Sled Company and used by Libby Riddles when she became the first woman musher to win the Iditarod Sled Dog Race in 1985. Libby Riddles was born in the “lower 48” but moved to Alaska when she was 16. Her love of the outdoors and dogs led her to raise and train sled dogs and eventually fueled her passion for sled dog racing. Her first Iditarod run was in 1980 but the male dominated sport left her an outsider, without sponsors. Dog sled racing competitors rely heavily on their sponsor’s money to fund their training and to maintain their sled dog team and with none to provide that stability Riddles was left to her own devices. In 1985 she entered the Iditarod once more and though she had a rough start, 15 days into the race, she was able to pick up a lead as she rode through a blizzard in -50 degree temperatures. Riddles was the first to cross the finish line after 18 days, 20 minutes and 17 seconds. Her win produced a new generation of female mushers and as of 2015, one third of the race competitors were women.
The Iditarod Sled Dog Race is an extreme sports challenge that tests the skill and endurance of competitors while celebrating Alaska’s sled dog culture and history. Teams of 12 to 16 dogs, primarily Alaskan Huskies, and their musher experience harsh terrain and weather conditions during the 1,150 mile run from Anchorage to Nome. In its modern iteration as an extreme sport, the Iditarod takes an intense physical toll not only on the human competitors but also on the sled dogs. The race follows a large network of Native trade and travel routes which travelers used when gold was discovered in the isolated town of Iditarod. This discovery led to a “rush” of miners and settlers from across the country, transforming the trail into the region’s main mail and supply route. The area’s harsh winter conditions made sled dog teams the main source of transportation along the Iditarod Trail and it is this rich history which the Iditarod race celebrates today. In 1978 Congress designated the 2300 mile Iditarod Trail as a National Historic Trail recognizing its importance in the shaping of America. Through its beginnings as a regional story, the Iditarod provides us the opportunity to explore the American Experience through the origins of the Iditarod National Historic Trail and the transformation of the Alaskan sled dog culture into an international sport. The Iditarod is now the largest and most prominent sled dog race in the world, attracting international competitors and world-wide media attention.
Location
Currently not on view
Object Name
dog sled
date made
ca 1985
used
Riddles, Libby
maker
North Star Dog Sled Company
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
metal (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 105 in x 22 in x 39 in; 266.7 cm x 55.88 cm x 99.06 cm
ID Number
2008.0143.01
accession number
2008.0143
catalog number
2008.0143.01
subject
Sled Dog Racing
Sports & Leisure
event
Iditarod Sled Dog Race
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Sport and Leisure
Sled Dog Racing
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Additional Media

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