These Dogs are Honorary Geologists for Their Early Exploration of Alaska

By Mika McKinnon on at

Every geologist needs a field hat to protect them from scorching sun and drenching rain, but a really lucky geologist will have a trusty dog. Meet the adventurous dogs who trekked across north Alaska, and the geologists who explored with them.

In 1924 and 1925, United States Geological Survey (USGS) field teams trekked across northern Alaska to survey the state. Their pack of field dogs helped carry gear, haul sleds, drag boats upstream, and carry meat home from successful hunts. These are photos from their adventures in the Colville district.

These Dogs are Honorary Geologists for Their Early Exploration of Alaska

March 18, 1924: Geologist Mertie with his hands full of ptarmigan before the warming spring melted the Alaskan snow. Image credit: USGS

These Dogs are Honorary Geologists for Their Early Exploration of Alaska

March 26, 1924: Lunch break along the Unakserak River trail. Image credit: USGS

These Dogs are Honorary Geologists for Their Early Exploration of Alaska

March 28, 1924: Lynt returns to camp from a victorious hunt with a sheep on his sled. Image credit: USGS

These Dogs are Honorary Geologists for Their Early Exploration of Alaska

April 21, 1924: Geologists Fitzgerald and Tait set up a topographical station to survey the lands. Image credit: USGS

These Dogs are Honorary Geologists for Their Early Exploration of Alaska

April 21, 1924: Geologist Mertie running a dog sled (with a decidedly unimpressed field dog) across the Alaskan landscape. Image credit: USGS

These Dogs are Honorary Geologists for Their Early Exploration of Alaska

April 21, 1924: An ice mound along the east fork of the river with geologists and dog sled for scale. Image credit: USGS

These Dogs are Honorary Geologists for Their Early Exploration of Alaska

May 20, 1924: Field life is lacking in a few luxuries at this spike camp on the southwest fork of a creek. Image credit: USGS

These Dogs are Honorary Geologists for Their Early Exploration of Alaska

May 23, 1924: Uncrating canoes at Camp 22 in preparation for navigating the rivers. Image credit: USGS

These Dogs are Honorary Geologists for Their Early Exploration of Alaska

June 12, 1924: Camp 29 below the river rapids. Image credit: USGS

These Dogs are Honorary Geologists for Their Early Exploration of Alaska

July 5, 1924: Geologists and dog in a Peterboro canoes on Colville River. The wooden canoes were named for being manufactured in Peterborough, Ontario. Image credit: USGS

These Dogs are Honorary Geologists for Their Early Exploration of Alaska

July 25, 1924: Camp 48, the midway point of the Colville-Chipp portage. Image credit: USGS

These Dogs are Honorary Geologists for Their Early Exploration of Alaska

1925: Dogs hauling a large caribou back to camp after a successful hunt. Image credit: USGS

These Dogs are Honorary Geologists for Their Early Exploration of Alaska

1925: Humans and canines trekking across a mountain pass. Image credit: USGS

These Dogs are Honorary Geologists for Their Early Exploration of Alaska

1925: Fully-loaded field dogs make the journey easier. Image credit: USGS

These Dogs are Honorary Geologists for Their Early Exploration of Alaska

1925: Feld dogs Nig and Jerry carrying their packs across the wilderness. Image credit: USGS

These Dogs are Honorary Geologists for Their Early Exploration of Alaska

1925: The humans carry 30 kilogram packs, and the dogs help carry the rest of the load with packs up to 18 kilograms apiece. Image credit: USGS

These Dogs are Honorary Geologists for Their Early Exploration of Alaska

1925: Dogs and humans take a quick break. Image credit: USGS

These Dogs are Honorary Geologists for Their Early Exploration of Alaska

1925: Yup. This was quite a photo-shoot mid-exploration! Image credit: USGS

These Dogs are Honorary Geologists for Their Early Exploration of Alaska

1925: Dogs working a tow line along the Etivluk River. Image credit: USGS

These Dogs are Honorary Geologists for Their Early Exploration of Alaska

1925: Dogs pulling boats upstream on the Etivluk River. Image credit: USGS

These Dogs are Honorary Geologists for Their Early Exploration of Alaska

1925: Dogs on the banks of the Etivluk River hauling boats upstream. Image credit: USGS

These Dogs are Honorary Geologists for Their Early Exploration of Alaska

1925: Dogs hauling a partly-loaded boat across the tundra of Etivluk-Aniuk Pass. Image credit: USGS

Top image: USGS field team trekking across a mountain pass in the Colville district of northern Alaska in 1925. Credit: USGS


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