Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program
Earl Norris

Earl Norris was interviewed on October 3, 2000 by Bill Schneider at his home in Willow, Alaska. Earl had been in poor health, so his wife, Natalie, helped him tell his stories and remember details. In this interview, Natalie and Earl Norris describe growing up with dogs, coming to Alaska to work, and the growth of dog mushing. They also talk about using dogs during World War II for search and rescue, and providing freight support for climbing expeditions on Denali, in particular for Brad Washburn. They describe the details of the dangers of traveling with dog teams on glaciers, the types of sleds they used, the types of dogs they had, and rescue operations.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2000-17-30

Project: Denali Mountaineering
Date of Interview: Oct 3, 2000
Narrator(s): Earl Norris, Natalie Norris
Interviewer(s): Bill Schneider
Location of Interview:
Funding Partners:
National Park Service
Alternate Transcripts
There is no alternate transcript for this interview.
Slideshow
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Sections

1) Learning about sled dogs and moving to Alaska

2) Selling and donating dogs to search and rescue, and Natalie's arrival in Alaska and meeting Earl

3) The use of Natalie's dogs during World War II for northern latitude search and rescue

4) The involvement of dogs in the war, Earl's favorite dog, and accessing the area around their home

5) Earl's first time transporting supplies for Brad Washburn's climbing group on Denali

6) The dangers of glacier travel with a dog team

7) Coming down the side of a glacier and leaving his old mail sled and brake

8) Sledding specifics and discussion of the composition of the Washburn expedition

9) Plane rescues that Earl participated in with sled dogs and organizing sled dog races at the Fur Rendezvous

10) The dual purposes of their dogs and a great lead dog, Nikolai 2

11) The kinds of dogs they own, how they acquired them, and where they got them

12) Having friends that run their dogs, and Natalie's experiences with dogs in high school

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Transcript

Section 1: sled dogs\ mushers\ Alaska -- correspondence\ Kooney?, Mike\ Nenana, AK\ dogs -- shipped\ Civil Aeronautics Administration\ Alaska -- moving\ Anchorage, AK\ airfields -- expeditor\ Russia -- aircraft\ Iliamna, AK|

Section 2: food -- macaroni\ dogs -- donation\ Army -- Search and Rescue\ dogs -- sell\ Minnesota\ sled dogs\ government -- buying dogs\ Chinook Kennels, New Hampshire\ Lake Placid, NY\ World War II\ Civil Aeronautics Administration\ Norris, Natalie -- school\ homestead\ train|

Section 3: Norris, Natalie -- picture\ World War II\ military -- search and rescue\ Greenland\ Soviet Union\ military -- dog team units\ Chinook Kennels, New Hampshire\ Emmeny?, MT\ recruiting -- rescue unit\ Alaska\ Labrador\ Vaughn, Norman Colonel\ Quebec -- northern|

Section 4: dogs -- donated\ dogs -- German Shepard\ dogs -- rescue\ dogs -- Yukon\ dogs -- leader\ Washburn, Bradford\ Wheeler Creek -- bridge\ Little Susitna -- bridge\ Washburn, Bradford -- mountaineer|

Section 5: Washburn, Bradford -- contact\ dog team\ supplies -- transporting\ geologists\ rock -- samples\ World War II\ Mt. McKinley\ dogs -- train\ kennels -- Park Headquarters\ McGonagall Pass\ Wonder Lake\ Muldrow Glacier\ basecamp\ trail -- breaking|

Section 6: basecamp -- fly\ Christiansen?, Chriss -- pilot\ transportation -- dogs\ Washburn, Bradford\ ice bridges\ crevasses\ glaciers\ dog team -- speed\ dog team -- size\ lead dog -- Malemute\ Alaska|

Section 7: Washburn, Bradford\ glaciers\ McGonagall Pass\ dog team -- film\ command -- gee\ command -- haw\ sled loads -- weight\ equipment -- mail sled\ stanchions -- stiffness\ Kantishna River\ sled -- birch wood|

Section 8: sled -- roughlocked\ sled -- long\ Wonder Lake\ dogs\ grizzly bear\ Army\ clothing -- cold weather\ movie -- White Tower\ film crew|

Section 9: rescue unit\ Branham?, Bud\ Rainy Pass Lodge\ plane -- crash\ ptarmigan\ dog team -- body recovery\ Redington, Joe\ contract -- army\ Nelchina Glacier\ dogs -- sprint racing\ Fur Rendezvous -- sled dog race|

Section 10: dogs -- dual purpose\ dog team\ dogs -- Siberian huskies\ dogs -- competitive\ dogs -- desire\ lead dog -- Nikolai 2\ dog race -- Exxon\ Huntington, Carl|

Section 11: dogs -- amount\ dogs -- Siberian husky\ dogs -- malemutes\ dogs -- Eskimo\ dog handler -- Dutch\ Meguluk?, Arctic\ dogs -- breeding\ government -- Canadian\ dogs -- villages\ dogs -- puppies|

Section 12: dogs -- business\ sled dogs -- involvement\ dogs -- racing\ , Bob -- dog running\ high school -- dogs|