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Galena: Checkpoint on the Iditarod Trail Northern Route

Every other year, Galena gets a little crazy during the middle of March. It isn't spring fever. It is Iditarod fever. Galena is a checkpoint on the northern route of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. The dog mushers are not the only ones traveling through. IditaBikers and skiers all make their way through this Yukon River checkpoint.

Galena's connection to the Iditarod is personal too. Local musher Carl Huntington won the race in 1974. Another resident, Edgar Nollner, was one of the mushers who carried the life-saving diphtheria serum to Nome in 1925. He lived in Galena until he died in 1999.

Galena sits on the north bank of the Yukon River. It is some 270 air miles west of Fairbanks. The Yukon River is the only highway into the town. From about mid-May to mid-October, boats travel the river while it is ice-free. Freight comes to town on barges. Families float up and down to favorite fish camps. In the winter, the frozen Yukon is a highway for dog mushers and snow machines. The only other way into the town is by air.

The largest community in the area with 675 people, Galena started as a supply station for a nearby lead mine in 1918. It was set up not far from an Athabaskan fish camp. By 1920, Athabaskans began moving to Galena to work. Before long a school opened. In 1932 Galena got its own post office. The Galena Air Field was built during World War II. Military bases fueled the growth of the town after the war. By 1993, the air force base was closed and it is now used as a boarding school.

In 1971, the Yukon River flooded the town and forced it to move to a new location farther from the river bank. A building boom brought new city offices, a health clinic, schools, a store and more than 150 homes to the new town site.

Can you find what other towns on the Yukon River are checkpoints in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race?

http://www.dced.state.ak.us/dca/commdb/CF_BLOCK.cfm 
http://www.iditarod.com/learn/iditarodtrail.html 
http://www.ci.galena.ak.us/


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