Notice for Saturday, January 29: The museum will open at noon due to inclement weather.

Race cachet for the 31st Iditarod, 2003

Race cachet for the 31st Iditarod, 2003

Usage conditions apply
Description (Brief)
This cachet was designed by David Schwantes, a former teacher and long-time Iditarod and Anchorage Philatelic Society member. He is the volunteer who hand cancels all the official trail mail and the unofficial mail as well. Trail mail is on the list of required gear for all mushers to carry during the Iditarod, making it just as important as snow shoes, a sleeping bag, the vet book or an ax. Each musher is required to carry this mail cachet throughout the race and deliver it to the Nome post office when the race is completed. This cachet pays homage to the early history of the Iditarod Trail and its original purpose of providing mail and supplies for the Alaskan settlers drawn to the area by the gold rush.
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.
Currently not on view
Object Name
race cachet, sled dog racing
date made
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
overall: 9 1/2 in x 4 1/4 in; 24.13 cm x 10.795 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Dog Sled racing
Iditarod Sled Dog Race
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Sport and Leisure
Sled Dog Racing
Sports & Leisure
Data Source
National Museum of American History
Nominate this object for photography.   

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.


Add a comment about this object