History of the 1925 Nome Serum Run

Welcome to Balto's True Story!

Above: Gunnar Kaasen with Balto, taken after the serum run.

This site is devoted to the real history of the 1925 Nome Serum Run, the famous dog sled relay which brought initial relief to the citizens of Nome, Alaska, who were being struck down by a diphtheria epidemic in late 1924 and early 1925.  The heroic efforts of 20 dog sled mushers and 150 dogs (including Balto and Togo, who became famous as a result of their part in the run) deserve to be remembered and honored!

The site is titled "Balto's True Story"; however, I chose that name because, for better or for worse, it's Balto with whom people associate anything regarding the serum run.  This site is NOT just about Balto!  It's about the overall history of the serum run and its participants.  All the same, this site has nothing whatsoever to do with the three Balto cartoon movies produced by Universal Pictures and Amblimation (Amblin Entertainment).  There are already more than enough sites and forums dedicated to them.  This is a place to learn what really happened back in Alaska in 1925!

Please note that there will be regular updates and changes to the site!  Please keep checking back!  And do enjoy your stay!


***NEW NEW NEW!***
(04/06/12)  Well, to everyone who celebrates, allow me to wish you a happy, safe and solemn Easter!  A couple days early, but it is Easter weekend, so why not? 

I've had the good fortune to be involved in the development of two wonderful documentaries, both about the serum run, which are forthcoming VERY soon.  The first has already been completed, and I have received an advanced copy from the makers, the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation located in Tromso, Norway!  Having looked over this documentary, I can certainly give my thumbs up to it (though they made a minor mistake in misspelling my last  Not a terribly big deal).  The documentary is a combination of on-camera interviews with historians, authors and mushers (and a touching interview with a descendant of Leonhard Seppala), re-enacted scenes, old photographs and news reel footage from the events surrounding the serum run, and long thereafter.  And I can tell you, it's an enjoyable and interesting production!

The other documentary is being produced by Anker Productions based in New York City, and is currently in post-production.  Being an independent film, it is not financially backed by a network or corporate entity like the previous documentary I mentioned.  So they have had to seek funding.  But I can tell you that an advanced preview has been floating around the internet, and it is going to be fantastic!  I was honored to be interviewed on camera for this documentary, and consulted (because of my work for this website) on the research.  This makes me very proud, and I cannot WAIT to see it released!

Finally, something that makes me even PROUDER is that my website has received its first official testimonial from a major institution associated with the history of Balto and the serum run!  None other than the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, repository of Balto's physical remains (the taxidermy mount) and his lead, as well as one of THE places to go to learn about the dog specifically, and his history, has submitted a very touching and wonderfully-supportive letter, on their official letterhead, through their "Distance Learning Coordinator", Ms. Lee Gambol, who
who handles and supervises the most current outreach programs associated with the Balto exhibit at the museum.  They consulted with me on some of the details of their program (as well as professional institutions and individuals), and their own historical records, in creating the program, and I must admit that I am eager to visit and see it for myself! 

This will be the first of what I hope will be more professional testimonials which speak to the quality of this site, and the dedication I have put into it for several years now.  I receive no recompense for is a labor of love, and one I feel very passionate about.  And that is enough for me.  Though such notices, from learned bodies and documentary productions, always help, and present quite a few nice feathers in my cap!  Here is a scan of the testimonial, which I will be adding to a new testimonials page soon!

To the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, and Ms. Lee Gambol, my humblest gratitude and appreciation!  And to producer Per Kristian Olsen, and Project Manager Anne Mari Svendsen, of the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, for a wonderful documentary which I am certain will be remarkably well-received when it airs in Norway and abroad!  And finally, to producer Daniel Anker, of Anker Productions, for the best in completing your funding efforts and releasing your wonderful documentary, which I know from many circles is anxiously anticipated!  I remain honored to have been included in the on-camera interviews you chose to conduct, and I hope my efforts to assist on and behind the camera have been worthwhile!  Your documentary is gonna be a smash, I know it!

  *WHEW!*  Well--after a rather long and unhappy hiatus, thanks to the machinations of a devious cybersquatter, who stole my previous domain name out from under me last spring (using a GoDaddy account), my website is back up and running!  It's been very frustrating for me, as you might imagine, as my web host did not provide any assistance to me in resolving the situation, and the domain name was lost (as well as the linkage on I don't know how many websites).  Those who were able to navigate to this site, including people in the museum and historical fields, teachers, researchers, and so on, have been left wondering where the heck "" went.  To all of you, I sincerely apologize!  I am grateful for all the e-mails I have received over the months, asking desperately where the site has gone, and whether or not it will be back!  Perhaps, with a little diligence, time and assistance, I will be able to get the site's visibility back up on search engines, around the net and so on, and people will be able to enjoy it again!  And that cybersquatter in England be damned...I hope he chokes on it and the horrible inconveniences he's caused!
Meanwhile, I know I have a LOT of work to do on this site now, and at least now I can focus on new pages and new projects related to it.  And I have not only had requests of respected people in the field to post on here (which I plan to grant, quite happily), but even one or two requests to write article materials elsewhere, which is a great feather in my cap, and for which I am grateful!  I also want to thank Daniel Anker and his production company, API Films, for allowing me to interview on-camera for their upcoming documentary, Icebound.  They have been seeking funding and donations in order to finish the project, and really need your help!  While they have not reached their deadline goal, I am sure they are still eager and willing to accept donations.  Please go here for more information:  And thanks!  It's going to be a great documentary, and would be well worth your support!


So what about the
forum?  Why should you visit and register?  Well, firstly, you don't have to.  But rest assured, you don't know what you're missing!  There are some great discussions taking place there!  You'll also find:
  • Great historical pictures of Nome, its citizens, and of life in and around Nome (and Alaska) in the early 1900s!
  • More great historical pictures of Leonhard Seppala, Gunnar Kaasen, Balto, Togo, Fritz (Togo's half-brother, and a member of Leonhard Seppala's serum run team) and others!
  • Historical information about Nome, Alaska and the serum run.
  • Fan fiction writings, fan art, and fan videos (YouTube, etc.)!
  • A live-chat "shoutbox", where you can talk in real time with other forum members who are signed in at the moment!

So please do consider signing up on the forum as a member! You're always welcome!


This site is constantly undergoing updates and changes, so please check back from time to time to see how things are coming along!  There will be a lot for those who are interested in the real history of the 1925 Nome Serum Run, and its more famous canine and human participants.  The site will include discussion forums, a chat room, a place for artists to post artwork related to the subject matter, for writers to post fictional stories of their own design, and much more!

(NOTE: I am a person who believes in making certain that what I post on this site is true to the real history.  I know there have been visitors here who are well-versed in the history of Nome and the serum run.  As always, I welcome constructive criticism and, if necessary, contacts about any corrections which may need to be made in what has been presented.  Please do not be afraid to contact me and discuss those things if you see anything like that!)


Earl J. Aversano
BaltoSeppala, Webmaster (e-mail: