Thursday, June 4, 2020

Chinook's Legacy - From Mutt to the New Hampshire State Dog

Part 4 of this series:

These signs and plaques are all located on Route 113A "The Chinook Trail" in Wonalancet, New Hampshire. 

1928 - 1930           1933-1935

Purchased and moved to this site in 1930 by
Milton and Eva B. "Short" Seeley, these kennels
produced sled dogs for exploration, racing, and
showing.  For almost 50 years Chinook kennels
exerted a profound influence upon the Alaskan
Malamute and Siberian Husky breeds, and many
champions were born here.  With Milton directing,
dog teams were sent on to the Byrd Antarctic 
Expeditions and to the Army's Search and Rescue
units.  After his death in 1943, Eva continued
alone.  An author, sled dog racer, and dynamic
contributor to the sport of dogsledding, "Short"
was named to the Musher's Hall of Fame in Alaska.
Mrs. Seeley died in 1985 at age 94.

The Evening Star, Washington D. C,
9 June 1930, page 12

New Hampshire Dedicates Road as
"Chinook Trail" as a Tribute
to Four-Footed Hero
Special Dispatch to the Star and to the
New York Times.
TAMWORTH, N.H., June 9. -  While
medals are being struck for Admiral
Byrd and the men of his Antarctic
expedition, now rolling homeward on 
their two ships off the coast of their 
own country, an enduring honor has
been paid to one who is not coming
back, a four-footed hero of the great
adventure who died alone out on the 
desolate ice barrier.                            
     "Chinook Trail" is the name given
by the Governor of New Hampshire and
his council to the new stretch of road
leading from Tamworth to Wonalancet,
past the homestead of Arthur T.
Walden, veteran of the Yukon, who was
Admiral Byrd's chief dog driver.  It
commemorates the loyalty of a dog to
man, the faithful service of the noble
Chinook, the leader of the teams that
hauled the burdens over the pressure
ridges and round the crevasses, and
made possible the flight over the South
     Already a mile and a half of the 
$10,000 six mile highway has been
graded, and it will be ready for the 
Midsummer traffic of motorists making
the pilgrimage to the Walden farm to
see the veteran dogs of the Antarctic
and the fast-growing puppies who were
born at Little America on the edge of
the Ross Sea."                                      

The Walden farmstead still stands on Route 113A, the "Chinook Trail" in Wonalancet (Tamworth), New Hampshire.  

The original Chinook kennels were established by Arthur Treadwell Walden, who raised the original dog named Chinook, and bred the puppies that led to the dog breed of the same name.  After his Antarctic expedition of 1929 - 1930, Walden lost interest in breeding, and his kennel managers Ava and Milton Seeley became breeders of sled dogs and bought out the kennels.  They did not work on the Chinook breed, but on Alaskan Malamutes and Siberian Huskies. Julia Lombard took over the breeding of the Chinooks at Hubbard Kennels, and she also lived in this neighborhood of Wonalancet.  Julia worked with Perry Greene, who became a Chinook breeder, too. 

Katherine Sleeper Walden, Arthur's wife, maintained the farmhouse in Wonalancet as a summer home. In 1948 there was a tragic fire at the homestead, and Arthur died trying to put out the fire.  Katherine and Arthur are buried next to the Wonalancet Union Chapel, next door to their homestead.  

In 2009 the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted on Senate Bill 13 to designate the Chinook the official state dog of New Hampshire.  Governor John Lynch signed the bill at the Lurgio Middle School in Bedford, New Hampshire.  The seventh graders at the Lurgio School Spearheded the campaign to put the Chinook bill before the statehouse.  The Guiness Book of World Records lists the Chinnok as the rarest dog, with less than 100 puppies born each year.  All Chinooks descend from the famous "Chinook" who accompanied Walden and Byrd to the South Pole in 1929 - 1930, who descended from a Mastiff, and a Greenland Husky descended from "Polaris", Admiral Peary's lead dog on his expedition to the North Pole. 

For the truly curious:

Chinook and His Family: True Dog Stories, by Martha A. L. Seeley and Eva Brunell Lane, Boston: Ginn and Company, 1930

The Tamworth Narrative, by Marjory Gane Harkness, Silver Mountain Press, 1958 (this book is available from "The Other Store" in Tamworth, New Hampshire  603-323-8872)

For another famous Chinook dog, see the story of "Charger", who was a Vietnam War hero:

Watch the New Hampshire State House vote on making the Chinook the New Hampshire State Dog: 

A 1940 newsreel "Chinook's Children"  (about ten minutes long):

My previous blog posts in this series:

Part 1 "Who was Chinook?":

Part 2 "Chinook's Operation":  

Part 3  "Chinook's Final Great Adventure at the South Pole"   


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Chinook's Legacy - From Mutt to the New Hampshire State Dog", Nutfield Genealogy, posted June 4, 2020, ( accessed [access date]).

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