Importance of Leonhard Seppala to the World of Dog Mushing
Leonhard Seppela was born in Skibotn, Norway on September 14, 1877.
Seppala was brought to Nome by one of the famous THREE SWEDES, who founded gold near Anvil Mountain; Jafet Linderberg. In June of 1900, Leohard arrived in Nome. The mining job that he had was his first exposure to sled dogs in that winter of 1900. Mining materials were ferried by Malmutes back and forth from the Kougarok. Seppala designed the famous “pupmobile” using the railroad track the mining company had built to haul men, material and gold to the mine fields. Leonhard like the dogs and wanted to develop a team for racing in Nome. Sepp decided to concentrate on the Siberian Breed of dogs. He was inspired by Scotty Allan to run this breed of dogs in the 1914 All Alaska Sweepstake Race. He ran 11 Siberians in that race and 2 Siberian Malamute crosses. He did not finish that race but came back in 1915 to win the All Alaska Sweepstakes and again in 1916 and 1917.
Leonhard Seppala is known for his infamous leaders: TOGO, BALTO, and FRITZ. When Diptheria hit the costal village of Nome in 1925 and there was no way to get the life saving serum by boat or plane, Sepp was instrumental in organizing the Serum Run to Nome by Dog Team. With planes not running the only way to get the medicine to Nome was by ship from Seattle to Seward and then rail it from Seward to Nenana. Twenty dog teams had established a route to race it across the Seward Peninsula to Nome. Although Sepps dog, Balto (with dog driver, Gunner Kassan) brought the serum down the streets of Nome and received all the credit, Sepps's lead dog, Togo actually ran Leonhard's team the furtherest and the fastest during the grueling relay.
The fame and the glory to the Heroes of the Trail came to all these dog drivers all around the World. Mushers and dogs became world traveler and were put on display everywhere. This was a feat unheard of ever before. Sepp too went on tour with his dogs Most of these dogs were never to return to the Alaska’s snow again, as they were sold off and used in sideshows and exhibitions. Seppala too left the golden beaches of Nome after the 1925 Diptheria Epidemic and moved to Seattle. There he would send the rest of his days. He passed away in1967 at the age of 90.
Leonhard bred Siberians all during his Alaska time and Seattle time. His Siberian breeds are desired by dog lovers world wide. The SiberianHhusky breed is just one of Leonhards legacies. We hope that The Seppala House Project will be another. After all, it was Leonhard Seppala who introduced long distance sled dog racing to the world, and the accomplishments he made for all Siberian Husky owners of today.