The first "Cover" Art Work by Laurel Tofflemire, carried by Lee Muller

History of The Oregon Dune Musher's Mail Run

Oregon is known for it's pioneering spirit. That spirit is still alive in the dog musher of the Oregon dunes. We all know that this country was originally developed by the strength of the men and women and the muscle power of the animals they trained to help with developing the land.The Mail Run salutes all of the aspects that make up our early animal powered history.

The Oregon Dune Mushers' Mail Run from North Bend to Florence commemorates that period of time when sailing ships and horse drawn coaches provided transportation along the Oregon coast until about 1914 when the railroad tunnel was completed to the Gardiner area. Note:  In Oregon, the beaches were used as highways along the coast and still come under the jurisdiction of the Oregon Department of Transportation from low tide mark to mean high tide mark.

The Mail Run is a non-competitive endurance run. It is believed to be the world's longest organized dry-land run for dog teams and takes place each year the first weekend of March to coincide with the start of the Iditarod race in Alaska.

The event was conceived by Jim Tofflemire in 1977 after he ran the 1200 mile Iditarod Trail Race from Anchorage to Nome Alaska. It was a struggle to raise the money for the Iditarod and he sought to help others by combining the a raising event with the challenge of the tour of the unique sled dog training grounds of the Dunes. It became an one of a kind event in the world of dog sled sports.

This event, including dog teams of 4 - 5 to 10 - 12 dogs traveling in different class groups, will cover a distance of 75 miles in a two day time period.  The trail takes the participants over roads, trails, beaches and huge sand dunes and into the communities of Lakeside, Winchester bay and Florence.

Every Mail Run is a new adventure and is filled with challenges for both the musher and the dogs. It requires both to work together as one to overcome the challenges from quicksand to fording streams and climbing high sand dunes.  This event attracts dog teams from the western states and Canada and Alsaka.

Each Mail Run musher carries commemorative envelopes, signed by that musher and carried over the trail of the dunes. Each stamped envelope is cancelled in North Bend, Lakeside and Florence and is sold as a fund raiser of the Oregon Dune Mushers. In the past, we have sponsored Oregon Mushers to the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Alaska as was one of the original visions in developing this event.

Linda Robertson Photo by Bob Jones 1982


Sandy Kline during a training run at the remainding bow section of the wreck of the "New Charissa"
The ship wreck played a part in Mail Run History
as the closed beaches and clean up of spilled oil changed the route in the winter of 1999.


Back to Contents