The Alaska Highway
- The Alaska Highway is also known as the ALCAN highway.
- The highway is 1,387 miles or 2,232 kilometers long.
- The road was constructed during WW11.
- It opened to the public in 1948.
- The highway passes near Kluane National park, home of Canada’s tallest mountain. (Mount Logan)
- The route runs from Dawson Creek B.C. to Delta Junction Alaska.
- Fairbanks, Alaska is the unofficial end of the highway.
- The highway was built with lots of twists and turns to protect military convoys from air attacks.
- Early plans to build the ALCAN started in the 1920s, but the Canadian government wasn’t interested in a road link to the Yukon.
- Construction started March 8, 1942.
- Construction was spurred on by the Japanese attacks on the Aleutian Islands.
- The majority of the road was built by the American army.
- Most of the road was gravel but now the entire surface is paved.
- Hundreds of pieces of road building equipment were shipped on Northern Alberta Railways priority trains to Dawson Creek.
- The road was completed October 28, 1942.
Documentary on Construction of the Alaska Highway
- The completion was celebrated with a ceremony at Soldier’s Summit.
- The ceremony was broadcast by radio.
- Much of the road has been straightened over the years.
- The highway has shifted slightly due to post-war rebuilding.
- A homesick G.I. put a signpost up in Watson Lake pointing to his home town. Today there are more than 10,000 signs in the Sign Post Forest.
- On April 01, 1946 the U.S. government officially turned the Canadian portion of the highway over to the Canadian Government.
- The Milepost is the definitive guide to travel on the Alaska Highway.
- The Milepost has been published every Year since 1949.
- The Americans paid for the construction.
- The Canadians supplied timber and gravel.
- The highway runs past Liard Hot springs in northern B.C. It is Canada’s second largest hot spring.
- The highway passes through Yukon’s capital city Whitehorse.
- Thousands of RVs travel the Alaska Highway every summer.
- The Alaska Highway connects to the Campbell Highway in the Yukon. (to Ross River)
- The Alaska Highway connects to the Klondike Highway. (south to Skagway Alaska; north to Dawson City, Yukon)
The Alaska Highway is a Modern Day Engineering Marvel
- The Alaska Highway connects to the Atlin Road. (to Atlin, B.C.)
- The Alaska Highway connects to the Richardson Highway. (to Fairbanks, Alaska)
- The Alaska Highway connects to the Haines Highway. (to Haines, Alaska)
- The Alaska Highway connects to the Taylor Highway. (to Eagle, Alaska)
- Building the Alaska Highway is described as the biggest and hardest job since the construction of the Panama Canal.
- Four 1300-member Army Engineer regiments were deployed to build a rough trail.
- Civilian firms were contracted to make the trail road worthy.
- The operation was overseen by Colonel William M. Hoge.
- Hoge was from Missouri and educated at West Point.
- Total construction time was eight months and 12 days.
- The record low temperature during construction was -79 F.
- Many people working on building the highway were Black from the southern U.
- They worked 20 hours a day.
- Because of their efforts the U.S. military integrated all units during the Korean War.
- You can view moose, elk, bison, bear, and lynx from the highway.
Driving the Alaska Highway is Still an Adventure
- You can view dahl sheep at Sheep Mountain, north of Haines Junction.
- There is 20 miles between Canada customs in Beaver Creek and U.S. customs in Alaska.
- The highway travels through traditional First Nations territories in BC, Yukon and Alaska.
- For a time the highway was proposed to be numbered as part of the U.S. Route 97. That’s because the BC’s Route 97 connects to the lower 48.
- The Alaska Highway is the only land route to Alaska.