Harnessing History:
The Chinook Trail
Tamworth, NH

By Bob Cottrell

If you visit Tamworth, New Hampshire, you don't want to miss this scenic and
historic trip.

Where to Go:

Start at the Remick Museum and head east for 3/10 of a mile to the intersection
of NH 113 and NH 113-A at the four corners in Tamworth Village. Reset your
odometer to zero and follow Route 113A to the north.

Look for the Chinook Trail road sign with a picture of a dog on it. This is said to
be the only highway in America named for a dog.

At about mile 2.8 you’ll see a large sign on the left for the Big Pines Natural
Area. There is a nice walking trail here with a bridge over the river maintained
by the Tamworth Conservation Commission. Trail maps can be found a little
way into the woods. See if you can find one of New England’s largest white
pines nearby.

At 5.3 miles you will come to a state historic marker for the Chinook Kennels.
This was the second location of these famous kennels and dates from the 1930s.

For the original location of the Chinook Kennels you need to continue to mile
6.2 to the Wonalancet Farm, a red building on the right with a gambrel roof. It is
now a private residence, so please respect the owners’ privacy and enjoy the
view only from the road.

At mile 6.5 on the right is the Wonalancet Chapel built in 1880, restored in 1890.
The tower and bell were added in 1896 and it was restored again in 1937.

Follow  the main road to the left to about mile 7 to the edge of the pasture and
look back to the mountains for one of the best views in town.

From here you can see why the area was originally known as Birch Intervale
until 1893.

You can continue on into Sandwich or back to Tamworth village.

The History of the Chinook Trail

The kennels were originally located behind the house from around 1900 to 1933
when the Seeleys purchased the operation and moved it down the road.

Chinook dogs were also raised during the 1930s at the Wonalancet-Hubbard
Kennels located about a mile to the south.

The story of the Chinook began in 1890, when Kate Sleeper (later Kate Walden)
bought the original homestead and ran the Wonalancet Farm as an inn until
1930. [Before that it had served as a school.] There were tennis courts, a golf
course, waterfalls, and a ski rope tow in the area, all of which made it an idyllic
place to visit.  
Click here for full story about the Chinooks.

Her husband, Arthur Walden introduced sled dogs to the area. He had spent
seven years in Alaska freighting with dog teams during the gold rush. Later,
Walden was in charge of dogs for Admiral Byrd’s first trip to the South Pole in
the late 1920s. More than one hundred dogs were brought to Wonalancet for
conditioning for the trip.









Walden’s dog Chinook was a famous lead dog. It is his picture that is featured
on the Chinook Trail road signs. Walden wanted to create a new breed of sled
dog that had tremendous power, endurance, speed, and a friendly, gentle
nature. He bred a descendant of Admiral Peary's famous lead dog, Polaris, to a
mastiff-type dog. Three pups were born and named Rikki, Tikki and Tavi after
Kipling's story. [ The Jungle Book] Rikki would be renamed Chinook and he
grew to become the world's most famous dog of his time.

The Chinook line sired by this dog was at one time one of the rarest breeds in
the world and has since been preserved by a small group of dedicated
breeders. It is one of the few breeds that originated in America in the 20th
century.

Arthur Walden is also credited with starting the fashion for log buildings in the
area. He built the Antlers tea room, next door to Wonalancet Farm on the west,
which housed a gift shop, the post office, and is now a private residence.

Markers along the way:

CHINOOK KENNELS (Marker Number: 155)
Tamworth
1988

"Purchased and moved to this site in 1930 by Milton and Eva B. "Short" Seeley, these
kennels produced sled dogs for exploration, racing, and showing. For almost 50 years
Chinook Kennels exerted a profound influence upon the Alaskan Malamute and Siberian
Husky breeds, and many champions were born here. With Milton directing, dog teams
were sent on the Byrd Antarctic Expeditions and to the Army's Search and Rescue units.
After his death in 1943, Eva continued alone. An author, sled dog racer, and dynamic
contributor to the sport of dogsledding, "Short" was named to the Musher's Hall of Fame
in Alaska. Mrs. Seeley died in 1985 at age 94.”

Located on NH 113-A ("The Chinook Trail") in Wonalancet.
Chinook
The Chinook Trail Sign...click here for more New Hampshire travel info...
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