History of the 1925 Nome Serum Run

Togo Statue In Seward Park, NYC

Ranking among the least-known of all the serum run-related statues and monuments, this was commissioned by the city of New York to be part of a larger Alaskan-themed display in the recently renovated
Seward Park.  This park was established on city ground condemned in the late 1890s, and repurposed as a place for children to play in.  It went through a few renovations and, in 2001, through the influx of new funds (courtesy of former mayor Rudolph Giuliani and two other city council members), a new series of bronze statues and fountains were added to the park.  The purpose was to honor the park's namesake, William Henry Seward (former Secretary of State under Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson, and the man responsible for the 1867 purchase of Alaska from Russia, known euphemistically as "Seward's Folly"), and to dedicate the park on his 200th birthday.  The ribbon cutting met that date - May 16th, 2001.

The types of statues to be included were discussed in the renovation plan, and included seals which serve as fountains.  It was also suggested that Togo, one of the heroes of the serum run, be included.  The city of New York commissioned Oregon animal sculptor Shelley Smith-Curtiss to create the statue of Togo.  Recently, I spoke with Mrs. Smith-Curtiss (who was very gracious and accomodating in helping me research this statue).  She explained to me that, at the time, she had no photographic reference upon which to base her sculpture, and had not seen any (and that no one could provide any), in spite of searching.  And yet, if you'll look at the statue, you'll see that she didn't drift that far from Togo's basic appearance!  The statue is life-size (for a general Siberian husky), and is sculpted in bronze.  The dog's harness is sculpted around it in a form of sunken relief, as if it is pressing into the coat under the weight of being pulled. 

Still, perhaps, is Togo overshadowed by Balto...and this time by statuary.  However, this beautiful modern statue stands on its own as a memorial of one of the greatest heroes of the serum run!  It sits in the park, which is located on Manhattan Island's Lower East Side, and is bordered by Essex, Canal, and Jefferson Streets, and East Broadway.  Click on "Seward Park" above to go to the page describing it, and for a map of the park and immediate area.

Togo/Balto Statues at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

Once known as the Brookside Zoo, this facility once hosted Balto and six other members of musher Gunnar Kaasen's thirteen-member serum run team (Fox, Sye, Billy, Tillie, Old Moctoc, and Alaska Slim).  They were brought here after being rescued from Sam Houston's "dime-a-look" museum in Los Angeles, California (see the related information on the Balto Capsule History page of this site).  After the various members of the team gradually died off (Balto and Sye being the last two to do so...Balto in 1933 and Sye in 1934), the enclosure created for them was dismantled, and a new enclosure for displaying wolves was put in its place. 

In time, the Brookside Zoo became known as the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.  Various exhibits have gone through renovations, including the wolf exhibit in 1997.  It was at this time that the statues were commissioned and donated by John E. Rupert (and family) and Stuart Schaffner, both of the Cleveland Zoological Society.  The plaque seen above, in front of the statues (sculpted in bronze by Ohio sculptor Mary Wawrytko) reads "Balto and Togo statues donated by the John E. Rupert family and Stuart Schaffner".  Of the two, Togo is the dog laying down, and Balto is sitting up.  Here are details of both statues:


The statues are located outside the exit of the wolf cabin (the Wolf Wilderness), in the Northern Trek portion of the zoo.  The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is located at 3900 Wildlife Way, from where Pearl Street meets W. 25th Avenue (accessible from several major interstate highways running through the city).  The last two photos were graciously provided by the library of the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.

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