As the COVID-19 vaccine is distributed throughout New York City and the winter storm begins to fade, NYC Parks is remembering and honoring the 96th anniversary of the lifesaving Nome relay, which was completed on February 2, 1925. Following the iditarod trail, famed sled dogs Balto and Togo saved the children of Nome from a diphtheria outbreak by delivering the antitoxin to the remote Alaskan outpost, completing the last leg of a dog sled relay through blizzard conditions.
In January 1925, the city of Nome, Alaska experienced an outbreak of diphtheria. At that time, Nome had a population of 1,429 people and there was only enough antitoxin serum in distant Anchorage to treat about 300 people exposed to the disease.
A relay of mushers and their dog-sled teams was the only way to deliver the fur-wrapped twenty-pound package of serum to the ailing community 674 miles from Nenana. Twenty teams of over 200 dogs covered the frozen terrain at about six miles per hour, in blizzard conditions with temperatures of 50 degrees below zero to deliver the serum.
Parks has honored both of these heroic sled dogs with statues in Central Park and Seward Park. Sitting atop a rock outcropping near the East Drive at 67th Street in Central Park, the Balto statue’s glowing bronze reflects the loving pats of countless children and adults who recall the story of a heroic dog. Downtown in Seward Park, the Togo statue, sculpted by Shelley Smith Curtiss, features a plaque to honor the lesser-known Siberian husky who also played a heroic role in the famous 1925 run.
For more information on the Balto statue in Central Park, visit: https://www.nycgovparks.org/
For more information on the Togo statue in Seward Park, visit: https://www.nycgovparks.org/