The Last Musher On The Trail Has Arrived…
In Nome Alaska! Thirty Seven Year Old Celeste Davis, from Deer Lodge Montana, is the last musher to make it under the Burled Arch on Front Street in Nome. Her arrival signifies the end of the 2010 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Davis arrived in Nome at 8:06 pm with 9 dogs on her team. She will also go into the Iditarod history books as the fastest “Red Lantern” arriving in Nome in 13 days, 5 hours, 6 minutes, and 40 seconds.
The Story of the Widow’s Lamp
During the days of Alaska sled dog freighting and mail carrying, dog drivers relied on a series of roadhouses between their village destinations. Since these mushers ventured out in most all kinds of weather, for safety reasons they found the idea that pilots rely on, known today as the flight plan. Word was relayed ahead that a musher and team were on the trail, and a kerosene lamp was lit and hung outside the roadhouse. It not only helped the dog driver find his destination at night, but more importantly, it signified that a team or teams were somewhere out on the trail. The lamp was not extinguished until the musher safely reached his destination.
In keeping with that tradition, the Iditarod Trail Committee will light a “Widow’s Lamp” at 10:00 a.m., on the first Sunday in March, in Nome at the trail’s end. This lamp, which will be attached to the Burled Arch, our official finish line, will remain lit as long as there are mushers on the trail competing in the race. When the last musher crosses the finish line, officials will extinguish the “Widow’s Lamp” signifying the official end of the Iditarod for that year.
All too often, public and media think of the race as being over when the winner crosses the finish line, yet there are still teams on the trail. We hope you will find this often overlooked part of the race worthy of your attention. There are many very good stories about these other mushers on the trail.
History of the Red Lantern
Often the “Red Lantern” is confused with the “Widow’s Lamp.” They are not the same. An article several years ago in Alaska magazine states that the first red lantern was awarded in the 1953 Fur Rendezvous Race. According to Alaska,
“Awarding a red lantern for the last place finisher in a sled dog race has become an Alaskan tradition. It started as a joke and has become a symbol of stick-to-itiveness in the mushing world.”
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