Seppala House saved from demolition in Nome, to turn into museum

 A member of the Leonhard Seppala House Project shows a photo of the Seppala House. (KTUU)
A member of the Leonhard Seppala House Project shows a photo of the Seppala House. (KTUU) (KTUU)
Published: Jul. 9, 2018 at 7:08 AM AKDT
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Every year the city of Nome, Alaska targets rundown buildings for demolition. This year one of the buildings selected was a crumbling little blue house on Bering street. To locals, the house is known as the Seppala house.

Leonhard Seppala arrived in Alaska in 1900. He came from Norway to work the Gold Rush. His job was to haul freight back and forth from the mining operations. His mode of transportation: dogs. For Seppala, the gold didn't stick, but the dogs sure did.

Seppala became know as a fast, long-distance musher, winning several races. He even demonstrated the sport at the 1932 Winter Olympics at Lake Placid, New York. But he really rose to international prominence in 1925 when he suggested that a relay-style run of dog sleds should be used to get life-saving antitoxin to Nome during a diphtheria outbreak. Seppala ran the longest leg of the event, winning himself and his lead dogs, Togo, Fritz and Balto, a place in the history books.

Seppala is also one of the people credited with introducing the Siberian Husky to the United States. He was able to get the breed recognized by the American Kennel Club.

So it's only fitting that two Iditarod mushers, Urtha Lenharr and Jon Van Zyle, have stepped up to try and save the Seppala house and turn it into a museum dedicated to Seppla and his dogs. They've formed a non-profit called


The group was able to crowdfund enough money to move the house and save it from immediate demolition. The next step is to restore the building.