Bring Togo Sculpture Poland Spring

TOGO was the lead sled dog of Leonhard Seppala. Seppala was a Norwegian breeder and racer of Siberian huskies from the Chukchi Inuit stock of Siberia. Togo was dark brown with cream, black and gray markings. He had ice blue eyes and weighed about 48 pounds at maturity. Togo refused to be parted from Seppala and his teams and later escaped his adoptee’s home by jumping through a window. A troublesome and mischievous puppy, Togo harassed Seppala’s teams when he was harnessing up a team or whenever they were on a trail. To keep him calm, Seppala harnessed Togo in one of the wheel position directly in front of the sled. Through his journey to take a miner to Dime Creek, Seppala moved Togo up the line until he was sharing the lead position with the lead dog, named Russky. During his first day in the harness, Togo ran over 75 miles, a distance unheard of for an inexperienced young sled dog.

By the time Togo led his team over 261 miles during the Great Race of Mercy to deliver diphtheria anti-toxin, he was 12 years old. Though Balto received the credit for saving the town, to those who know more than the Disney story, Balto is considered the backup dog. Balto ran 55 miles, while Togo’s leg of the journey was the longest and most dangerous.

Togo retired in Poland Spring, Maine, The Seppala Kennels partnership of Leonhard Seppala and Elizabeth M. Ricker began shortly after the Poland Spring dog-sled race of 1927 and lasted approximately until Ricker married Kaare Nansen in 1931 and left for Norway. This partnership, the Poland Spring Kennels, short-lived though it was crucial to the history of the Seppala lineage and the Seppala Siberian Sled-dog. Although the kennel population was at times as high as 160 dogs, only eight animals in total were ever A.K.C. Registered.

What Makes Togo an American Hero? Despite rough beginnings, Togo saved the lives of thousands of people. In 1960, Seppala said that “I never had a better dog than Togo. His stamina, loyalty and intelligence could not be improved upon. Togo was the best dog that ever traveled the Alaska trail.”You can make a difference by donating today to Poland Spring Preservation Society (Poland Spring Preservation Society).

Let's get Togo the recognition he deserves! And Build a life size sculpture here!

Poland Spring, Maine, is where he retired and passed at 16 years old! So it's only right to honor him and his spirit there! Togo retired in Poland Spring, Maine, where he was euthanized on December 5, 1929, at 16 years old. The headline in The New York Sun Times the next day was "Dog Hero Rides to His Death" (Salisbury & Salisbury, 2003), and he was eulogized in many other papers.

After his death, Seppala had him custom mounted. The mounted skin was on display at the Shelburne Museum in Shelburne, Vermont. Alaskan students started a letter campaign to return Togo to Alaska. Today the mounted skin is on display in a glass case at the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race Headquarters museum in Wasilla, Alaska. The Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale University has his skeleton in their collection

In May, we signed a contract with Maine sculptor David Smus in May to create a life-size bronze statue of Togo. Growing up around the woods and waters of rural Maine, David has had a close affinity to wildlife since childhood. His lifelong love of art and the outdoors, combined with years of experience in taxidermy and a degree in Wildlife Management, contribute to his knowledge of anatomy and life history, often expressed in his work. Primarily self-taught, he began sculpting in wood, specializing in natural-finish birds and animals. He has since worked with several master sculptors and now does primarily limited editions in bronze. His work has captured numerous First Place and Best Of Show awards and is noted for evoking a sense that the spirit of the animal is residing in the medium. “I spend hours observing wildlife and feel like I owe such beautiful creatures the dignity of proper representation.”

Glenn Bolduc of Spruce Bay Farm and Landscaping will design the area surrounding the statue. He is doing this as a donation to the society! Thank you Glen!

During Heritage Day Weekend, we unveiled the new Togo Storybook Trail! The Trail was joint effort evolving Jonathan Hayes (Poland Spring Kennels and author of the storybook), Poland Recreation Department, Poland Spring Resort, Poland Spring Water, Spruce Bay Landscaping, and Four Winds Custom Signs of Minot.

The trail begins at the Poland Spring® Bottling Museum and ends beside the Maine State Building! You can now enjoy a stroll through the woods with your family while reading the book, “The True Tails of Togo the Sled Dog”! In the spring edition of the Turret, we told you our friend Jonathan Hayes had completed a 261+ mile solo expedition through the North Maine Woods to help raise funds for the statue. A documentary was made encompassing his journey. The documentary “True North - Legends of Dogs and Men” debuted on Heritage Day! We will host a Private Showing next spring in the Chapel!

This fall, David Smus met with us again and took several more measurements of Togo’s descendant Sawyer, a retired Seppala Husky, living the good life with Cyndi at Poland Spring, just like Togo did with Elizabeth Ricker in the 1920’s. We still need your help! The Togo Statue will be our first commissioned bronze sculpture.

Update: The Unveiling will happen on September 17th, at the Maine State Building!

The Poland Spring Preservation Society, a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit, is dedicated to the restoration and preservation of the Nationally Registered Historic Landmarks: All Souls Chapel and the Maine State Building. Poland Spring Preservation Society celebrates the long history of Poland Spring by educating visitors through our museum, collections, and community-driven events.
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Poland Spring Preservation Society (Poland Spring Preservation Society)
Poland, ME
Poland Spring Preservation Society (Poland Spring Preservation Society)
Registered nonprofit
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