When A Lethal Outbreak Seized An Alaskan Town, Locals Hatched A Plan For A Wild Rescue Mission

Veins of gold weren’t the only thing running through the Alaskan mining town of Nome: a vicious illness had also taken hold, striking down the local children indiscriminately. Help would come too late, isolated from the outside world as Nome was. Their one hope was a desperate rescue plan, but both time and lives were slipping away.


As the number of kids falling ill mounted, so did the sense of hopelessness among Nome’s residents. But what could save a small town, considered remote in the best of circumstances, when blizzards besieged it as they did? Desperate times called for desperate measures — and there were few as far-fetched as the plan swirling through Nome, along with the icy winds.

History remembers

So how did it all play out? Well, the outcome is still memorialized today, as you’ll know if you’ve seen the hero’s statue in New York’s famous Central Park. History remembers the events and its pivotal players, then. Or does it? That’s the funny thing about memory. It isn’t always accurate — and the real hero almost faded into obscurity until recent years.

Balto or Togo?

The statue is popular with children, perhaps because it depicts a dog. And if you’ve paid attention to it, you may know its likeness is that of the heroic hound Balto. But somewhere along the way, he got confused with another husky — a sled dog named Togo. So despite Togo having played a pivotal role in saving many lives, his own name was nearly forgotten over time.

Unlikely sources

And Togo the uncredited champion is finally getting the recognition that he deserves, thanks in part to Hollywood. Filmmakers released a new movie in 2019 starring Willem Dafoe that righted some wrongs and revealed the epic plan that Togo and his team enacted to save the Nome children’s lives. And it wasn’t just a race against time, either. Virtually everything was stacked against the rescue’s success.