Posts Tagged ‘Magdalena’

To start reading from the beginning, go to May 11, 2008.

The first time I heard about the Iditarod was one night at the dinner table. Martin
explained it was a sled dog race that began in Anchorage
and ended in Nome. The mushers came right through Golovin on
their last (dog) leg to White Mountain, then Saftey and finally to the finish line in downtown Nome. They traveled an unbelievable 1000 miles. The leaders made it in about 10 — 12 days. Others took up to three weeks.  Martin said the dogs were excited and lively in Anchorage, but by the time they reached Golovin the dogs were exhausted, tongues hanging and “dogged”. This was something I really wanted to see — a real dog musher.

Dog mushing is a part of my heritage. My grandfather and grandmother (Mini) traveled by dog team in the old days. Mini’s father and brother
(my great grandfather and great uncle) had the mail contract from Nome to Unalakleet delivering the mail by dog sled. A round trip took them about two weeks. My great grandfather, Pete, was quite a sly dog himself. His home base was Solomon where he ran a grocery with his Eskimo wife and three children (a boy and two girls). He would load his sled (drive to Nome for the mail?) then trek back again east and south to Unalakleet.

It must get pretty cold and lonely traveling such a distance in the arctic cold and long nights for ‘ol great grandfather, Pete, had a second Eskimo wife and children (two girls) in Unalakleet. When his first family was raised and married with children of their own, Pete’s first wife in Solomon died. Pete then brought his second wife and two girls from Unalakleet back home to Solomon. Needless to say, the first set of siblings never got along with the second set of siblings.

It took nearly my entire stay in Golovin (about 9 months) to sort out the family lineage and who’s who. With duplicate names (my great aunt
and aunt share the same name) and with family members having been switched around (my Aunt Maggie was raised by Pete and his second wife, my great Aunt Maggie raised my father who’s natural mother was Mini so my great Aunt Maggie is my adoptive grandmother) It was confusing.

I left Golovin before the kick off of the Iditarod but some 17 years later I would meet and become friends with the 1989 Iditarod champion and his champion musher wife, Joe and Sherri Runyan. We had both recently moved to the small New Mexico ranch town of Magdalena.

(to be continued) copyright Tamara Ann Burgh, all rights reserved

Pete Curran and Pauline

1898. From Klondike, Pete went down the Yukon to St. Michael and on to Spruce Creek to try his hand at gold mining. At Spruce Creek (east of Nome) Minnie (my birth grandmother), Maggie (my adoptive grandmother) and Pete Jr. were born. From Spruce Creek, Pete moved to Golovin where he became a mail carrier contractor (by dog team). From Golovin, he moved to Solomon in 1925 where he continued his mail contract and bought into a trading post and roadhouse. My great uncle Pete Junior took over the mail contract and also operated the ferry at the Bonanza river crossing for years.

Solomon Roadhouse

Pete Curran's Solomon Roadhouse as I saw it in the late 70's

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