The trail for all seasons
The Iditarod Historic Trail Alliance promotes public awareness and protection of the Iditarod National Historic Trail and its gold-rush and Alaska Native heritage. How do we do this? By encouraging education programs and historical research to tell the story of the Trail. By assisting in the protection, improvement, maintenance and marking of the trail. And, by developing partnerships that foster stewardship commitments and support from land owners, local communities, organizations and others.
While the Iditarod Trail is well known nationally and internationally due to the contemporary sled dog race, many Alaskans and most Americans are unaware of the basic history of the Trail. While parts of the Trail go back thousands of years to trade routes used by Alaska’s native people, today’s Iditarod Trail began with an Alaska Road Commission scouting expedition in mid-winter 1908. With the strike of gold in Iditarod, the ARC blazed the trail the winter of 1910, giving the Iditarod and Innoko mining districts overland access to the deep water port of Seward, and eventually, the Alaska Railroad.
Flashing to the end of the 20th century, Congress passed the National Trails System Act in 1968 establishing a framework for a nationwide system of national trails supported by public-private partnerships of users, managers, and others with an interest in trails. The Iditarod National Historic Trail was designated by Congress as a National Historic Trail in 1978 to commemorate the last great American gold rush.
The Iditarod Historic Trail Alliance, a.k.a. Iditarod National Historic Trail, Inc., is a statewide nonprofit organization chartered to advance the knowledge, appreciation, and enjoyment of the historic Iditarod Trail. The Alliance was founded in 1999, and a number of Board members have been involved in efforts for the Trail for over 30 years. Several served on the Department of Interior’s Iditarod National Historic Trail Advisory Council, which sunsetted in 1998.
The Alliance, along with its partners, celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Iditarod Trail from 2008 to 2012. Between 1910 and 1912 over 10,000 gold seekers came to Alaska’s “Inland Empire”. While not everyone made it rich, over $30 million of gold was taken out of Iditarod along the Iditarod Trail. Moving forward, the Alliance looks to highlight other historic anniversaries of the trail (such as the 2014 100th anniversary of the first mail contract to Iditarod) and the overall story of how the Trail changed Alaska.
Alaska Association for Historic Preservation, Inc. partners with IHTA to support of their program.