Tom & Charlene's Excellent Adventures travel blog

Start of the Alaska Highway

Mile 0 Marker

Mural in Dawson Creek

Our roadside scenery

Curved wooden bridge built for original Alcan, still in local use

Statue honoring Surveyors of the Alcan Highway


THURSDAY, JULY 10

The wind was still wildly blowing this morning. The thermometer showed 52⁰ but that didn’t measure how cold it felt. My guess would be the windchill was hovering around 40. Shorts and tank yesterday, jeans, long sleeves and a jacket today.

Headed to Dawson Creek, British Columbia this morning. When we crossed into BC we entered the Pacific Time Zone – gained another hour of daylight!

We did a waking tour of Dawson Creek and stopped at the Alaska Highway House. This small museum is dedicated to the men who constructed the highway. There was a very good PBS program shown that focused on the construction through the eye of the men who built the road. For decades there was discussion between the US and Canada about constructing a highway connecting the lower 48 with Alaska through Canada. Each time the subject was introduced the two countries could not agree on a route or sharing the cost. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor it became very important to open a route to move supplies from the lower US to Alaska. The decision was quickly made to start a road.

There were many challenges for them. In the winter it was -30⁰and the only protection they had from the weather were the tents with stoves made from 50 gallon drums. In the summer the temperature would climb to 90⁰ and they were plagued by mosquitoes and gnats. They had to keep arms and legs covered and wear pith helmets with netting to cover their face and neck.

Bulldozers would plow through the forest followed by men with saw and axes to cut up the trees. Some wood was used for road infrastructure and some for the stoves. The gravel trucks and graders then followed the men. The engineers would scout ahead of the ‘dozers to plot the best route, then came the workers followed by the cooks who would tear down the camp and set it back up a few miles farther down the road. Following the soldiers were teams of professional road builders who would reinforce/smooth the road, straighten sharp curves and change very steep inclines. The road was finished in November 1942, 8 months and 12 days after they began.

After the Highway House we walked around town and admired the murals painted on many of the businesses. Enjoyed lunch at the Baked Café. We skipped the very tempting desserts as earlier we each had a cheese Danish at another bakery – yum!

We had our picture take at the Mile 0 Marker and then headed north. The gal at the info center told us it was a very boring drive to Fort Nelson – 395 miles – and she was right. We miss the Rockies! But she promised the rest of the route would be worth the wait.

We boondocked tonight at the Prophet Airstrip Campground. It’s just us and about a million mosquitoes. They swarmed the windows as soon as we parked. We didn’t even get out of the RV. We discovered the campground in the book Alaskan Camping that we purchased last winter. This was a former Provincial Park and now is a free camp area.



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