The last musher and team are off the trail, the widow’s lamp is outened.
Cindy Abbott came under the burled arch, March 18, 2017 5:24pm, winning the Red Lantern.
The Red Lantern is the award given to the last musher to finish the race. While it sounds odd to have an award for last place, it is a sign of perseverance, persistence, and the acquisition of knowledge and skill necessary to complete a thousand mile dogsled journey. And the skilled dog management and care needed.
The Widow’s Lamp is a different thing:
The Iditarod Trail Committee lights a widows lamp in Nome on the first Sunday of March, the day of the restart. They hang it on the Burled Arch and it stays lit until the final musher crosses the finish line. It is then extinguished. This practice came from the days of the Gold Rush when dog sled teams were used to move freight and mail. Each roadhouse along the trail would light a kerosene lamp and hang it outside the roadhouse to help the mushers find their way in the snow and darkness. It was also a signal that there was a dog team out on the trail. The lamp was extinguished when the dog team safely reached its destination.
The Red Lantern Award started as a joke in 1953 during the Fur Rendezvous Race.
Today it is a symbol of sheer guts and stick-to-itiveness… the kind of character that allowed humans to thrive in the arctic wilderness.