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Iditarod Musher Builds Gold Rush-Era Sled

Published On: Mar 03 2014 11:37:16 PM AKST   Updated On: Mar 03 2014 12:00:00 PM AKST

Reporter Rebecca Palsha, Photojournalist Eric Sowl


Rod Perry designed and help build a mushing sled based on ones used during the Gold Rush era. It took about five months, working 80-plus-hour weeks.

"I love that era of Alaska history," Perry said.

The resulting sled is big, about twice the size of today's models. All the work was done by hand, even steaming and bending the rods and using rawhide to bind it together. Even standard fasteners are too high-tech for this design.

"We didn't use bolts," Perry said. "Those are all homemade rivets made out of 16-penny nails."

The sled led the pack during the ceremonial start of the Iditarod in Downtown Anchorage Saturday. Because the sled is so large, a rider stands in the front on a smaller sled with skis.

"We usually ride it like a skateboard or a snowboard or a surfboarder," Perry said, "Move a little sideways -- with this long lever you can steer the sled with a touch of the thumb and forefinger."

For the next few days the sled will be displayed at the Alaskan Heritage Museum, in the ground floor of the Wells Fargo building at 301 Northern Lights Blvd., open from noon until 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Perry said he'll make another historical sled for next year's Iditarod.