Stardancer Historical Freight Dogs

Two Rivers, Alaska

 

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Stardancer Mushing Equipment

  Sleds:

  Early Period Toboggan: 

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  Toboggans were the most common type of sleds used in Interior regions during the eighteenth and early 19th centuries.  Toboggans remained in use in much of the Canadian Interior well into the 20th century.

A Native American / First Nations' invention, toboggans were easily constructed with simple tools and materials that were readily available in wilderness settings.  They were also very efficient in deep snow on unpacked trails. 

  Stardancer Historical Freight Dogs toboggan was custom built for our team by Northern Toboggan and Sled of Warroad, MN.  It is made of steam-bent oak boards with solid oak cleats.  With it's tub-like enclosure it is a type that was historically used primarily for transporting passengers, called a "cariole".  Our cariole is about 12 feet long with an 8 foot long cargo area, but is only 18" wide - allowing it to fit within a track broken out on snowshoes.

  Although representative of a historical cariole, dog safety dictates that it be equipped with an modern efficient bar brake and synthetic lines.  Our toboggan is used most frequently for reenacting dog mushing practices of the late eighteenth and early 19th centuries.

 

  Basket or "Stanchion" Sled:

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 As more people moved into the Canadian and Alaskan frontiers in the late eighteenth century the demand for heavier loads of freight coupled with the proliferation of hard-packed required a different type of sled.  With it's narrow runners that slide easily on packed trails and elevated cargo bed, the basket sled evolved from the Inuit "kommatik" to become the most common type of sled in use.

  Built by my friend Terry Riley at a time when he lived in the bush and earned his living trapping furs, our team's basket sled is representative of a type that was most popular among trappers, prospectors and other bush dwellers from the late 1880s through the present day.  All of the wooden parts of this sled are lashed together rather than using metal fasteners.

  It has been modified with the addition of a modern plastic brush bow, a bar-brake and drag mat to prevent accidents that might injure the dogs.

 

  Toboggan Sled:

 Click on picture to enlarge

The toboggan sled is a late 20th century innovation that combines the best features of a toboggan with those of a basket sled to create a sturdy, durable and very efficient dog sled.  A toboggan sled has the broad, curved bottom of a toboggan, but sits on 2" runners for more efficient travel on hard packed trails.  Modern toboggan sleds made of ultralight materials are very popular among modern middle-distance and long-distance sled dog racers.

  Built by Terry Riley while he lived a subsistence lifestyle in the bush, our sturdy toboggan sled is used most frequently as a training sled to prevent unnecessary wear and tear on our more historically authentic equipment.