In 1925, a diphtheria epidemic was poised to decimate Nome. Medicine was brought in from Nenana by a dog team. Twenty teams relayed the medicine 674 miles in 27.5 hours! Today the Iditarod Sled Dog Race honors this event.
When dog sleds were a major facet of transportation, dog drivers relied on a series of roadhouses between destinations. A kerosene lamp was lit and hung outside the roadhouse to help mushers find his destination at night, and more importantly, to signified that a dog sled team was still somewhere out on the trail.Each year a red lantern is lit from the Burl arch in Nome at the beginning of the Iditarod race and hung on the finish line, not to be extinguished until the very last team crosses the finish line. Once the musher crosses the line, he or she then extinguishes the lantern, signifying the official end of the race. Thus, the last musher in a race is called the “Red Lantern” musher.