Alaska's Winter Mails, 1898-1963:

Going to the Dogs!

Scott US 2182
Jack London
issued 1986.
London was one of the best-known and most popular of the writers who described the Yukon and Alaska.

As Jack London (1876-1916) wrote in his story "To the Man on the Trail," first published in 1899:

A health to the man on the trail this night;
may his grub hold out;
may his dogs keep their legs;
may his matches never misfire.

This philatelic exhibit is dedicated to the oft-forgotten heroes of the sub-arctic regions, the sturdy mushers and their irrepressible dogs.

Note: The term musher is of uncertain origin. Sled drivers do not actually yell "Mush!" at their dogs. English speaking drivers usually say "Let's go!" Contrary to popular belief, there is no Inuit word that might have been corrupted into this form, either. The word may derive from French speaking drivers who cried out "Marchons!" ("Let's go!") and were misunderstood by English speakers as having said "Mush on!"


  1. Introduction
  2. The Gold Rush Era, 1898-1911
  3. Alaska Territory, 1912-1937
  4. World War II Era, 1938-1950
  5. Statehood and Beyond
  6. Additional References


Sled teams were devised by native Americans in the snowbound areas of what is now Canada and Alaska, and they became essential to the communication and commerce of the Yukon after the gold strikes began in 1897.

The postcard above shows, according to the printed text, "A Crack Team of Alaskan Huskies." The address side (see below) indicates that it was mailed from Seattle on October 18, 1905 and received in East Walpole, Massachusetts on October 23 or 28 (a poor strike of the receiving stamp leaves the date uncertain.)

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Created by Gary Lee Phillips, mail to

1998 Gary Lee Phillips.