History of the Quest Trails: The Midway Lodge
By Jeffrey Dinsdale, volunteer writer for the 2013 Yukon Quest
As the teams make their way to Dawson City this week, it seems fitting to remember how the Quest checkpoints have changed over the years.
At 300 miles in length, the original leg between Carmacks and Dawson City was touted as the longest leg between two checkpoints of any sled dog race. Along this section of trail, there were three places where a musher could stop for some support and maybe some food: two hospitality stops at Maisy Mae and Stepping Stone, and one hamburger stand at the Midway Lodge.
The Midway Lodge happened to be located on the North Klondike Highway at a spot where the trail came out of the bush and followed the long, straight stretch of the highway known as the Minto Landing Flats. The lodge had no formal Quest status; it was not an official checkpoint or rest stop, nor was it a vet check or dog drop. The Midway Lodge was simply a restaurant with a parking lot and, if anyone so desired, a place to sleep for five dollars.
Owned and run by the Kruse family, the same folks who now host the checkpoint at McCabe Creek, the Midway Lodge had an agreement with the Quest to stay open 24-7 for as long as there were teams on the trail. As such, anyone could choose to stop at the lodge if they wished - and virtually every team did.
The Quest handlers, fans and groupies loved Midway. It was a great (warm) place to hang out all night drinking coffee, dressed in parkas and felt packs, and waiting for that one word from the posted lookout: “headlight.” Everyone would zip up their parkas and rush to the parking lot as that headlight drew closer and closer, before the team pulled into the parking lot and hooked down. The mushers would do what was best by the dogs and, when the chores were finished, the mushers would inevitably come inside for a cheeseburger and fries.