The Seward Phoenix Log - News of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula since 1966

By Tommy Wells
Seward Phoenix LOG 

Wada statue dedicated at ceremony


September 29, 2016 | View PDF

Anthony Nakazawa

Jujiro Wada's place in Seward history officially became more visible last week when city leaders officially dedicated a statue in the pioneer musher's honor near Fifth and Railway Avenue near the Alaska SeaLife Center. A large group of residents turned out for the dedication, including representatives from Japan.

The sculpture was commissioned by the Seward Iditarod Trail Blazers. It was created by Pat Garley, who was assisted by Colleen Wake, of Arctic Fires Bronze Sculptureworks of Palmer. The statue was installed earlier this summer in preparation for the Sept. 23 dedication.

Attending the ceremony were members of the Jujiro Wada Memorial Association of Japan. Also, a Japanese television station was in attendance in an effort to tape the event for a future showing. Students of Seward Elementary provided musical entertainment.

Wada was already a renowned dog musher, gold prospector, and long-distance adventurer when the Seward Commercial Club hired him and local musher Alfred Lowell in 1909 to prove that the Seward route to the newly discovered gold fields in remote Iditarod country was feasible. The route they pioneered to Iditarod was subsequently used by thousands of people and carried tons of mail, supplies, and gold. Wada's efforts contributed significantly to Seward's success as the gateway for trade and transportation to the Interior.

In 1978, Congress designated the Iditarod Trail from Seward to Nome as a National Historic Trail. The bike path along the Seward waterfront is the start of that historic trail.

Anthony Nakazawa

The Wada statue joins the first Seward Iditarod Trail Blazer bronze statue of a prospector and his dog, a short distance away. Both commemorate the hardy pioneer trail blazers for their efforts.

This exquisite bronze statue was made possible by generous support from Garley and Wake, Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area, Jujiro Wada Memorial Association of Japan, the Japan Alaska Association, Seward Community Foundation, Metco, City of Seward Public Works, and the Seward Iditarod Trail Blazers.

Editor's Note: Historical information provided by Carol Griswold was used in this article.


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