Related Biography: Dogsledder Joe Redington
Born in Oklahoma in 1917, Joe Redington is known as the "Father of the Iditarod." He moved to Knik, Alaska in 1948 and made a career of raising sled dogs after receiving one as a gift. He initially used his dogs in military search and recovery missions in Alaska from 1949 to 1957. He founded the Iditarod Trail Dog Sled Race in 1973. The race follows the actual trail that was used in the early 1900's during the gold rush to deliver supplies and mail to mining camps. A 1925 outbreak of diphtheria challenged a group of mushers to a "race against death" to cross Alaska and deliver life-saving medicine to Nome. Redington died of cancer in June 1999. Per his wishes, he was buried in his favorite dogsled in a specially made vault. A life-size, bronze memorial statue of Redington was unveiled in 2003.