Who Was Scotty Allan?

Scotty Allan journeyed to Alaska, attracted by news of the gold strike in the Klondike. Around him were men of action from many different countries, dependent on, in large measure, upon animals. It was not long before Allan had a wife, a baby, and a dog team, and with his uncanny knack with animals, he was well on his way to being a first-class dog-puncher. His first leader was named Dubby, a Mackenzie River Husky from the Hudson’s Bay Company stock. Dubby led the team the day his venturesome owner decided to sled across the Bering Strait to Russia. While in Russia, Allan visited some Siberian Eskimos and then returned to Nome, impressed with the self-sufficiency of those people.

The All Alaska Sweepstakes

Scotty Allan joined Judge Albert Fink and other Nome citizens to organize the All-Alaska Sweepstakes, the first official series of sled dog races anywhere. From these races emerged a new kind of hero in the far North, the racing sled dog driver. In preparation for these 408-mile non-stop races, Allan put his team and himself into training. He watched everybody’s diet, gave up smoking and even practiced going without sleep. He must have done something right, for the first eight years of the Sweepstakes, Scotty Allan never finished lower than third and had three firsts and three seconds to his credit. His team consisted of lop-eared freighting dogs, mongrels, and he was proud of their ability on the racing trails. 

In more than one race, however, Allan could look back over his shoulder and see John “Iron Man” Johnson’s long string of Siberians slowly gaining on him. Johnson led a team of culls from Fox Ramsay’s other two imported Siberian Husky teams to a record-setting win for him in 1910. The handwriting was on the wall for the mixed-breed freighting teams. Johnson’s Siberians beat Allan’s team by nine hours in 1914, and then Leonhard Seppala and his Siberians wrapped it all up in the final three years of the Sweepstakes.

 

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