(This article was published 1974 in the 50th Anniversary club booklet)
Fifty (now 83) years ago in 1924, the New England Sled Dog Club, Inc. was organized in Wonalancet, New Hampshire at Wonalancet Farm, the home of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Walden.
Arthur Walden was a man interested in adventure, outdoor activities, and the Far North. He had traveled the gold-rush country, has seen dog teams used for transportation, and had become enthused about this unique method of travel. When the opportunity arose for him to acquire some dogs that seemed to adapt themselves to dog sledding, he started breeding for a team. The original Chinook was a large golden yellow dog of mixed background, with an unusual amount of intelligence. When Chinook had been borne as one of the litter of three, Mrs. Walden, an admirer of Rudyard Kipling, had named the three puppies Rikki, Tikki and Tavi. When Mr. Walden returned from Alaska where Rikki had become his lead dog, he changed his name from Rikki to Chinook which means "warm west wind". Two females arrived at the farm, also of mixed origin. These females were both bred to Chinook. Mr. Walden kept all the yellow dogs for his team. This team was the start of sled dog racing in New England. These dogs were large, strong and capable. Mrs. Walden ran the Wonalancet Farm as an inn which was well-known and a "high-class" place to stay. Dog team rides became one of the attractions at the Inn.
In the early 1920's the Brown Paper Co. at Berlin, New Hampshire organized an International Race to be held near the boarder of Canada which attracted much of notice in the Boston and New York newspapers. Two Canadian and two United States teams entered this race. The race was held for three days, averaging 39 miles per day. Arthur Walden, with his lead dog Chinook, driving a single hitch of nine dogs, won the race. The publicity was nation-wide, and Walden and Chinook became famous overnight.
Enthusiastic fans of Arthur and Chinook gathered at Wonalancet Farm to form a club to promote this new sport of sled dog racing. This club became the NEW ENGLAND SLED DOG CLUB. The constitution and By-Laws were adopted November 5, 1924. Arthur Walden was chosen for the first president, Dr. Harry Souther of Boston, Charles DeForest of New Haven, Everett Rutter of Derry Village, N.H. Percival Estes of Meredith, Styles Oxford of Maine, and Dustin White of Vermont were selected as vice-presidents in order that all the New England areas would have representatives in the new organization. The first secretary-treasurer was Claude Calvert of Meredith, New Hampshire. Dr. Souther was appointed to the position of Chief Judge. The first official meeting after the idea got off the ground was held at the office of Walter Channing in Boston. According to a report in the Boston Transcript there were sixty charter members.
In the winter of 1925 the newly formed club sponsored two races for "green dogs and green drivers". The races were held in Newport, New Hampshire and Meredith, New Hampshire. The drivers were Hi Mason, winner of the Newport race, Walter Channing, winner of the Meredith race, Caryl Peabody, the late Mrs. Fred Lovejoy, from Massachusetts, Percy Estes driving a Meredith team, Richard Stearns, and Clara Enebuske, now Mrs. Richard Read of Wonalancet, New Hampshire. Mrs. Edward Clark would have raced with her team of Eskimo Dogs, but she did not qualify as a "green driver".
In 1926 there was a race held at Poland Springs, Maine which was won by Arthur Walden. In second place was Walter Channing, Ed Clark was third. Two other entrants. Phillip Molloy and Clara Enebuske withdrew the second day due to dog problems. The following year, at Poland Springs, LEONARD SEPPALA, hero of the serum drive to Nome, won the race with a team of Siberian Huskies; much to everyone' surprise. In that era of racing, big dogs were considered to be superior racers.
During the years from 1926 to 1928 point to point races were held in which teams started in one town, drove to another town, started there the second day and drove to a third town to finish the race. These races attracted quite a few Canadian teams and competition was keen. In 1926 the race ran from North Convay, and first day finish was in Wolfeboro: the second day's finish was at Ashland: and return to North Convay for the finish of the race. The competitors were: William Grayson, J. Dupuis, E.T. Clark, Shorty Russick, Arthur T. Walden, Walter Channing, E. Brydges, Henri Skeene, Emil St. Goddard, F. Dupuis and P. Molloy. First prize was $1,000 and "Shorty" Russick was the winner. Three days mileage was about one hundred forty miles.
In 1927, the race ran from Wolfeboro to Ashland on the first day, Ashland to North Convay the second day, and North Convay to Wolfeboro on the third and last day for a total of 133 1/2 miles. The winner that year was Leonard Seppala, and the first prize was again $1,000. Other entrants were: Emil St. Goddard, Theodore Kingeak, Hiram Mason, Walter Channing, Arthur T. Walden, Victor Lavigne, Francois Dupuis, Joe Dupuis and Phillip Molloy.
In 1928, over the same course (apparently), the contestants were: Hiram Mason, Mrs. E.P. Ricker, Emil St. Goddard, Walter Channing, E.T. Clark, E. Bridges, Leonard Seppala and Shorty Russick. Prizes were: $1,000. first place; $500 second place; $300 third place; $200 fourth place; and $100 for fifth place.
Arthur Walden and Chinook went with Admiral Byrd to the South Pole on the first Antarctic Expedition. During his absence the club began to deteriorate. Mr. and Mrs. Milton Seely had come to Wonalancet to live and at this time took over the operation of Chinook Kennels and Wonalancet Farm. Walter Channing, a member of the original organization urged the Seeleys to reorganize the club and start it rolling again.
Races were held in various New England towns each winter until, because of our involvement with World War II, gas rationing and other restrictions brought racing to an end "for the duration".
Many of the owners of Siberian Huskies either sold or donated their dogs to the Air Sea Rescue unit of the war effort, where under the direction of Colonel Norman Vaughan, and other service personnel, such as William Shearer III, William Bettete, and Tat Duval (to mention a few) the dogs were trained to meet the problem of rescuing the crews of downed aircraft in Greenland, Baffin Island, and other northern spots. Some dogs were shipped to Europe with the idea of evacuating the wounded from the Battle of the Bulge. This never became a necessity. These dogs that were returned were awarded a Honorable Discharge.
In 1947, the NESDC again resumed its racing schedule with from six to ten teams competing each weekend. Since that time the sport has grown by leaps and bounds both with the increased number of junior drivers and an increased number of senior drivers, including a five-dog open class and an amateur class.
It looks as if sled dog driving is here to stay. The greatest hazard it faces is the lack of land suitable to accommodate the increased number of members; and suitable for dogs to race on. Only time can tell us what the future will bring.
(This article was published 1974 in the 50th Anniversary club booklet)
20 New England Teams
to Race For Chance in Olympics At Lake
If present plans mature, Sunday, January 31, will be a big day at Wonalancet. On that day the Olympic sled dog elimination races will be held and about twenty teams will compete. The winning teams will represent New England at Lake Placid on Feb. 6-7 when they will meet teams from Canada and the north west states. The elimination races will attract many people to Wonalancet on that day. The state Highway Department will make a special effort to see that the road is well plowed ant the Motor Vehicle Department will send officers to handle the traffic. The Boston and Maine Railroad has extended a special round trip rate from Boston to Mount Whittier of $2.75 on that day and it is planned to have a fleet of trucks transport the people from the train to Wonalancet and then back to the train again. A real cold fashioned barbecue will be served to feed the crowd. Many notables will be present, including Governor Winant, several of Admiral Byrd's sled dog drivers and ski experts. If the weather man is kind and furnishes suitable snow, the elimination races should prove to be one of the high points of the winter season in the north country. Next week a full and detailed account of the program will be published.
(The Carroll County Independent, January 22, 1932)
The New England Sled Dog Club has 20 entries for the Olympic Tryouts. All members of the New England Sled Dog Club were allowed to enter, but the rules stated that they must hold a record of a minimum elapsed time of two years standing in a three day championship race; together with a 60% racing record annually. Three judges with split second watches were appointed. The race of three days started from Wonalancet Farm over Lower Mountain Pass to McCrilles Trail to Whiteface Intervale, through Sandwich Covered Bridge onto Brown Circuit Road and return. - A total of twenty-five miles.
The first two places were to enter the Olympics at Lake Placid in February, 1932. The Chinook Kennel Team #1 placed first in the tryouts, and the Mosely Taylor #1 team placed second. Through the Olympic Committee, Mrs. Milton Seeley, paying her own expenses raced her Alaskan Malamute team in the Lake Placid Olympic Demonstration.
The race took place February 6 and 7. Contestants started at three minute intervals. The trail was 25.1 miles long. The governing bodies were the New England Sled Dog Club, Inc (President - Moseley Taylor, Boston) and the Demonstration Dog Derby Committee.
Click here to download the 1932 Winter Olympics Sled Dog Competition Video, courtesy of John Shields, Saranac Lake, NY (6.7MB, MPG4 format, use Apple's QuickTime to view, also plays on Video iPod)
(This article was published 1974 in the 50th Anniversary club booklet)
. . . In 1949 Louise Lombard was the only woman entered in the 90-mile Ottawa Dog Sled Derby. She raced in competition with her husband. At that time she was driving a team of six Malamutes led by a Siberian Husky named "Wolf" who has made a name for himself as one of the Army dogs sent over to Europe to be used in the Battle of the Bulge removing the wounded from the battle ground.
Mrs. E.P. Ricker, now Mrs. Nansen, drove dogs in 1928. She placed 2nd in the 4th Annual Sled Dog Derby in Lake Placid in 1931. Her daughter, Bunty Dunlap also became a good sled dog driver.
Lorna Demidoff of Monadnock Kennels lays claim to being the only woman driver to win a New England Sled Dog Race in a period of 31 years.
Short Seeley of Chinook Kennels in addition to racing a fine team, participated in the OLYMPICS in the 1930's at Lake Placid - being the only woman to have that distinction.
At Anchorage, the Women's Champion Rendezvous Race was started in 1953. Joyce Wells drove a team of Targhee Hounds to victory in that first race. The next year Natalie Norris won the race driving a team of registered Siberian Huskies.
Millie Turner of Cold River Kennels drove a Class A team in the New England Sled Dog Club all through the 1930's and the early 40's to place well in all races including some of the "tough ones" in Canada.
Jean Bryar won the North American Woman's Championship at Fairbanks to become the first woman from the lower 49 states to achieve this. She also competed in many of the grueling Canadian races as well as Laconia, often placing in the winner's circle. . .
(by Nancy Cowan)
Dick was a racer of world renown...won the Laconia World Championships more times than anyone else ever.
Dick began driving a team of Eskimo sled dogs when he was about nine years old. The dogs belonged to a neighbor in Meredith, NH, and each probably weighed double the youngster's weight! But Dick was already a "dog man", so much so that his nickname around town was "Pooch". And he could handle those dogs. He told me that they got after the preacher's little scrap of a black lapdog and he knew that he was the only thing between the Eskimo sled dogs and the preacher's dog going to dog heaven. Well, the preacher's pup lived to run home and hide under the porch and Dick emerged victorious, if not unbattered, from the fray.
When Dick got to be teenaged, Milton Seeley stopped by to talk to his folks about Dick coming to work at Chinook Kennels. Over time, Dick became very near to the son that Milton had never had, and all the rest of his life, Dick tried hard to emulate the quiet, gentlemanly, and kind Mr. Seeley. Dick did all manner of hard work, and drove the Chinook Kennels number one Siberian team to victory in many races...but all the time he was there because, in his words, "This was where it began...", meaning that beckoning pathway to Antarctica...his dream was realized when Milton insisted that Dick be sent along to accompany the Chinook Kennels teams on BAE III. That expedition was funded in part by the United States military. When world war broke out, the expedition was hastily called home. By virtue of being expedition members, the dogs and dog drivers were already members of the military. When the sled dogs were called into service for first the snow patrol outfits and then what became Search and Rescue, Dick was a major player. Sgt Moulton led several expeditions in Labrador to rescue downed aircrews....this was through mercilessly tough, unmarked territory...and Dick told me that some of the injured men wished to die rather than continue the journey by sled.
When the Battle of the Bulge was happening, wounded troops could not be evacuated to medical facilities due to the deep snow. Dick was in charge of assembling the teams and drivers from wherever in the arctic regions they had been stationed, and getting them onto transport planes for a flight to Europe. Sleds, sled dogs, and dog drivers landed on a French airfield in one of the most sudden, warmest Spring thaws to hit the continent. The dogs were never used. When sled dog racing resumed in New England after the war, Dick was back into it.
By now Mr. Seeley was dead and Short Seeley was in very precarious health. When she could no longer carry on with the kennels, Dick bought them from her. He continued the process of outfitting the post-war Antarctic ventures with dogs...but Short could not stand not owning the kennels that had become her reason for living. Quite a bit of the monies paid by Dick were spent, but he returned the kennel property to her....at a severe personal cost. Dick did not look back, as his respect for Milton Seeley's memory would not allow him to do less for Eva Seeley. Even when his racing days were done, Dick was keenly involved---helping younger drivers, running the races and serving as judge and trail boss and everything else for the Lakes Region Sled Dog Club.
He served with Dr. Charlie Belford and Dr. Roland Lombard to advance the SEPP evaluations in an attempt to retain the working and racing capabilities of the Siberian Husky. He probably knew more about the inside and the outside of the racing sled dog than most vets...and certainly Lombard and Belford, two premier sled dog racing vets, had immense respect for his knowledge and expertise.
And Dick loved the races. In the last few years, he never missed attending the Laconia World Derby and the Sandwich Notch Sixty and any NESDC...of which he had been president...races around. Once I asked the famous sled builder, Ed Moody, who in his opinion was the finest dog driver of all time....Moody, like Moulton was an Antarctic and a Search and Rescue vet...and had known, and often outfitted, the finest racers in the world. Ed thought a bit..."The finest driver, the person who could get the most performance out of a team---that would have to be Dick Moulton." Ed knew what I knew...and what the townspeople of Meredith knew when Dick was nine...Moulton had the talent for being inside the head of a sled dog and thinking like a dog! That is one of the highest praises that one dog man can give another, for sled dogs cannot be forced to run. That wonderful and mystical ability to spot and to measure the urge to run, to know the leaders, to ferret out the problems is a supreme asset to one who would drive dogs. Dick had that. He was my friend and I will miss him very, very much
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