While at the U.S. Postal Service, I oversaw a number of different vehicles, but never anything like the Alaskan dog sled now on display in the museum’s “Networking a Nation” exhibit.
Contract mail carrier Ed Biederman (1861-1945) used this hand-made hickory dog sled for his 160-mile route between Circle and Eagle, Alaska. It has moose hide lashings and iron runners, brake, and springs, with cotton cords for securing mail loads. In 1935 frostbite crippled Biederman, after which he retired. His son, Charlie Biederman (1918-1995), took over the route. Charlie's days as a dog-sledding mail carrier ended in 1938. He kept the sled in the family and gave it to his nephew, Max Beck, who donated it to the National Postal Museum in 1995.
Dog sleds transported mail in some areas of the northern U.S. states and the Alaskan Territory during winter months. Contract carriers used these sleds across Alaska from the late nineteenth century into the early 1920s. Though most contractors had replaced their sleds with airplanes by the late 1930s, a team still carried mail in Alaska into the early 1960s.