The Russian Alaska became American in 1867 and the 49th US state at the start of 1959. During this period and beyond, several changes have been witnessed by this isolated north most region of the earth and the construction of the Alaskan Highway is among the most significant as it connects it to the American mainland going through Canada. Starting from Dawson Creek in British Columbia (Canada), the 1387 miles paved highway runs to the Delta Junction in Alaska going through Yukon Territory. Conceived parallel to its big brother, it`s considered an unofficial part of the great Pan American highway that spans all the way from Alaska to Chile and Argentine in the South Americas.
Mr. Thomas MacDonald, the director at the U.S. Bureau of public roads was the first one to introduce the idea of a highway joining mainland America to Alaska, but the idea really came to life when California born but Alaskan settled adventurer, Slim Williams traveled down the unmapped route on a dogsled. He further reached, Seattle and then to Washington meeting President Franklin Roosevelt. Slim had a love for adventure and Alaska, matched by very few. He even traveled down the same proposed route a second time on a motorbike this time with John Logan in 1939 .
However, after much bickering to and forth between the US and Canadian governments over costs, routing and other economic and political preferences, it was finally approved by the US Congress to go ahead with the construction of the highway on February 6th, 1942 given the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor which raised security fears on the North Western front and concerns regarding supplies to Alaska from the American mainland with the Canadian government approving the construction on the basis that the US government bear the full cost of construction as Canada had little economic benefit from the highway.
The Duration Of Construction
It was the 9th of March, 1942 when Alberta Railways moved construction material to Dawson Creek, the starting point of the highway. The road work took place from both the northern and southern ends and naturally, the bulk of the construction took place during the springs and summers with the two sides meeting each other at Mile 588, later named as Contact Creek on 24th September, 1942.
Construction Workers Meeting at Contact Creek on 24th September, 1942
The Oil Can Highway
With countless oil & fuel cans discarded by the side of ongoing construction, the highway came to be known as the `Oil Can Highway` by the US army corps engaged in the construction of the highway. Though the construction was announced completed in October 1942, the highway was not really usable until 1943 and even after that, complete pavement on certain sections took until the 1980s
Construction Workerers Clearing The Forests
Territories & Communities Along The Way
All the way from the US – Canada border to Alaska, the highway is a source of connectivity for various communities, towns and small cities that reside this frosty north western portion of the world.
Following are some of the cities and towns that you will visit while travelling the highway
- Dawson Creek
- Fort St. John
- Fort Nelson
- Watson Lake
- White Horse
- Haines Junction
- Destruction Bay
- Burwash Landing
- Beaver Creek
- Delta Junction
- North pole
There is no shortage of amazing sceneries through out the route of the highway.
Beware of Stone Sheep while travelling the highway as they may just pop out and show up suddenly in front of your ride. Though harmless animals, such surprises on a long stretch highway all of a sudden can be dangerous as they may catch you napping and can result in an accident.
On a concluding note, it has to be said, the experience, feeling and emotion you gather while travelling such a long stretch highway is a worthwhile and timeless experience. Get your hands on Alaskan`s Vintage Leather Bags and Leather Travel Bags for your next ride to rediscover yourself. Feed the soul with the Alaskan experience.