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A Re-Burled Arch

The Iditarod Trail's famous Burled Arch rests in pieces scattered across the ground with Old St. Joes Church in the background. One of the pillars of the arch lays on the ground. Ben Townsend photo.

The Burled Arch, the iconic symbol at the Iditarod finish line, collapsed unexpectedly on Saturday, April 27th due to wood rot.

The finish line for the first Iditarod in 1973 was drawn in the snow with red Kool-Aid. Mushers wanted a more official marker, so an arch was built of burled spruce wood. This first Burled Arch marked the Iditarod finish until it was replaced in 2000. Its successor stood until its collapse mere weeks after this year’s race.

Veteran musher Ramey Smyth will be building the new burled arch. The Smyth family has been building log homes since the late 1950’s. In keeping with the tradition, Smyth hopes to use a cultivar of spruce for the new arch. Selection and construction may take several months.

“I was honored to be contacted regarding the rebuilding of the Historic Iditarod Arch that is emblematic of teamwork between supporters, mushers, dogs, villages, and all Alaskans. The arch symbolizes teamwork, dreams, sacrifices, challenges on a trail of hardships, storms, sweat, and tears,” Ramey said to Mushing Magazine.

The new arch is expected to be ready in time for Iditarod 2025.

Image at top: The Iditarod Trail’s famous Burled Arch rests in pieces scattered across the ground with Old St. Joes Church in the background. One of the pillars of the arch lays on the ground. Photo courtesy of Ben Townsend, KNOM.

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