Alaska, the Last Frontier - Summer 2012 travel blog

curving road

Ft Nelson museum

Ft Nelson museum

Ft Nelson museum

Ft Nelson museum


The plan was to make a stop at Fort Nelson and visit the Heritage Museum and then head to the highest and most scenic points of the Alaska Highway. We knew that the weather forecast was not good and unfortunately this was one of those days when the forecast was dead on. As we headed west it began to rain harder and harder and the temperature never made it to 50º. As we thought about heading up to the alpine passes we thought back to the snow we "enjoyed" near the Columbia Ice Fields near Jasper and decided to stay in Fort Nelson which had a campground with good facilities and internet.

The guide book recommended this town as a fuel stop, because the prices would be higher further northwest. So we gulped and put the $5.75/gallon fuel into the tank. (What would the price be if the barrel price hadn’t been going down for the last few weeks?)The visitor center recommended the campground’s restaurant as one of the best in town. It had some interesting menu items like Newfie Fries (from Newfoundland?) and homemade hot soup that ht the spot.

Fort Nelson with a population of 4,500 is the biggest town around, but for our standards it is a small outpost surrounded by gazillion trees. It began as a fur trading post in 1805 and the fort and surrounding town have burned down and flooded repeatedly. Each time the town moved and today it is in its fifth location. The folks that live here have been attracted by all the jobs in the fuel industry. We talked to some high school kids, who said that hardly any of their classmates were originally from the area. They all were brought here by parents eager for the work and couldn’t wait to graduate from school and go back where they came from.

These kids were working at the Heritage Museum, which had a sort of backwoods charm. It started as a collection of odds and ends collected by a man who did not know how to throw anything away. The main building reminded me of that show on TV these days about hoarders. Now it has been taken over by the town and has a small paid staff that gives tours and explains what various items are. It features pioneer artifacts, vintage autos and machinery, a trapper’s cabin, and taxidermy models of many animals from the area including an albino moose. While snow shoes and chain saws have never been part of my life, it was sad to see how many of the historical items on display here, were items I easily recognized from my childhood. That’s how you know you’re getting old, I guess.

We have the time to linger and wait for the weather to improve, but the forecast remains cold and rainy of the next 4 -5 days. I’m afraid the creature comforts offered by our campground will not be enough to keep us here that long.

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