Today in women’s history: Mary Joyce ends thousand-mile sled dog trip

Mary Joyce, a pioneer Alaskan adventurer and the first female radio operator in the Territory of Alaska, completed a thousand-mile sled dog trip from Juneau to Fairbanks on this day in 1936. She was awarded a silver cup by the mayor of Fairbanks and received an “honorary member” title from the Pioneers of Alaska, an organization formed in 1907 to preserve early Alaskan history.

Joyce later became an accomplished hunting guide, pilot, flight attendant, nurse, and candidate for Alaska Territorial Representative. During her thousand-mile trek, she endured -60º temperatures, primitive terrain, and minimal communication, making the journey a harrowing one. She later said of the trip, “I wanted to see the country. And I just wanted to see if I could do it.”

She went on to become one of Juneau’s first female pilots, spent two years as a flight attendant for Pacific Alaska Airways, and in the 1940’s became a nurse at Juneau’s St. Ann’s hospital. She also purchased two nearby saloons, the Top Hat and the Lucky Lady.

Joyce remained in Jueanu until her death in 1976, and is buried in Evergreen Cemetery there today.

Photo: jun-cdn



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People’s World is a voice for progressive change and socialism in the United States. It provides news and analysis of, by, and for the labor and democratic movements to our readers across the country and around the world. People’s World traces its lineage to the Daily Worker newspaper, founded by communists, socialists, union members, and other activists in Chicago in 1924.