Beargrease Trail Mail Links History and Art

Baihly Warfield
Updated: January 19, 2020 10:43 PM

The roots of the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon trace back to mail. 


In the late 1800s, John Beargrease carried mail up and down the North Shore for the United States Postal Service. 

The 300-mile trek is now more about sport than communication. But there's a tradition that hearkens back to those mail routes. 

"All the mushers are sworn in as U.S. Postal carriers and they carry mail in honor of John Beargrease," Monica Hendrickson, , said. 

Fans can purchase Trail Mail. It's a pretty simple concept: You write a letter to whomever you want, seal it in a special envelope, then mail it in a larger envelope to the Beargrease. Each musher will carry some of the letters during the race. At the finish line, the mail is passed off to more modern postal carriers to reach its final destination. 

Not only are the letters a nod to history but also art. 

Stacia Goodman, a mosaic artist out of the Twin Cities, created the mural that is featured on the 2020 Trail Mail envelopes. The full-size one features a dog sled team running under some abstract northern lights. 

"This one just sort of naturally fell into place based on the time that I've spent in the woods and out on frozen lakes and sort of that magical feeling that you have when the only thing you can hear is your breath and the crunch of snow beneath your feet," Goodman said. 

She grew up in the Moose Lake area and is now a self-taught artist. She feels there's a correlation between art and sport. 

"I feel a real affinity with athletes who have that passion to just do it, to just go forward with what their passion is and see where it takes them," she said. 

While she's never mushed herself, she said it's exciting to know her art will be stamped into the 2020 Beargrease trail. 

"I imagine there are moments of extreme exhaustion, loneliness, wondering what they've got themselves into, and if I can be a small part of inspiring them as they've inspired me, that's really very humbling and quite an honor," Goodman said.

Trail Mail costs $2 per letter or $10 for a pack of 10. You can find more information at this link on the Beargrease website

The John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon begins Sunday, Jan. 26. 


Baihly Warfield

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