'A man of high adventure' is remembered

It was 50 years ago on this first week of March when newspapers announced the death of Cecil “Mush” Moore.
The name was well-known in the Twin Cities and Arch Soutar, Lewiston Evening Journal editor, wrote about this Lewiston native and his remarkable feats in a Journal Magazine article on March 2, 1968.

Soutar called him “a man of high adventure.” He was well-acquainted with Moore, having interviewed him often.

“Mush” Moore was noted for his remarkable sub-Arctic adventures. His fame is founded on a transcontinental trek alone by dog sled covering nearly 5,000 miles from Fairbanks, Alaska, to Lewiston, Maine.

He made this extraordinary trip using a sled that was custom-built by the Flexible Flyer sled company. It had wheels that could be installed when the sled had to traverse snowless trails or roads.

The transcontinental trip started in November 1950 and ended in April 1951. Moore finished the trek with nine of the 12 original huskies he started with.


At one point near the start of his trip, members of a U.S. Army at a base in Alaska came to look this sensational dog team over. The temperature was 55 below zero that day and the officers and GIs marveled that the hardy Moore could survive alone in that frozen waste.

Soutar remembered that Moore was “unusually strong, physically resourceful and an enemy of defeat, engaged in a rough and hazardous profession,” but Soutar added that Moore “was a man of unexpected inner sensitivity, an outdoor man with a large and almost brilliant vocabulary.”

As Moore was beginning his long journey, shortly before leaving Alaska, he wrote to Soutar on “about four penciled sheets of rough yellow paper.”

Moore wrote, “It has been a week since I left civilization behind me. In this week I have lived every moment … a day, a week or forever. I have seen Nature and have lived in my mind all these moments, doing this or that at some place in the trail, maybe just to climb up to one of the peaks that surround me, to know that I have conquered one of Nature’s mightiest and most majestic sentinels of this most silent solitude … or maybe my thoughts were on a rabbit that was being chased by a fox.”

Richard Moore, the adventurer’s nephew, recalled a day when Moore and his sled and dogs arrived for an appearance in the Twin Cities.

“When he approached the bridge between Auburn and Lewiston, he saw me on the Auburn side of the bridge. All schools were closed for his arrival home. He stopped his team, and had me sit in the sled as he crossed the bridge. At 15, that was a BIG DEAL to me,” Richard Moore wrote.

The young man recalled that local students were lined up the entire length of the street.

“Every now and then, I heard these young girls hollering to me, and I really was living on cloud nine.”

Moore traveled all over Maine with his dogs and sled, talking about his trip. The young Moore said his uncle asked him to join him on these trips to help keep people away from the dogs.

“Again, I found myself on cloud nine as all the young girls would come over, and I could name all the dogs. I also could pat them, as they became accustomed to me. They just were ‘wowed’ that I could walk among those dogs.”

Moore’s nephew sold copies of a booklet about the dogsled adventures for 25 cents, and he received 5 cents for each copy sold. He said he earned about $20 on each trip.

Publisher’s notes in a book Moore wrote in 1950 said, “Cecil ‘Mush’ Moore has crowded more adventure and harrowing brushes with death and disaster in the last year than any man in America.”

Moore had worked as an iron worker in Morocco, Iceland, Africa and in many places in the United States. He was the lead foreman on the Augusta Memorial Bridge, which was the nation’s largest bridge in span (2,100 feet) and height at the time of construction in 1949.

Moore’s trip made possible the creation of the Cecil A. Moore fund for Underprivileged Children at the Healy Asylum in Lewiston.