North to Alaska, 2006 travel blog

Liard River Bridge

Stone Sheep

The Hot Springs

Some of the scenery

Smith River Falls

June 22, 35836 5:45 am, next stop Fort Nelson

June 22, we are up early today; we want to get out of here before the 22-member caravan starts out.

We leave the RV Park at 5:45, head north and get fuel at a small place called Farmington. Gas is $4.65/gal and diesel is $4.21/gal. These prices are actually less than we had planned on.

The sun is out, wispy white clouds, but the temperature is cool. The road is good, 2 lanes, fairly smooth and gently winds north.

As we come into Taylor there is a 10% downgrade. As you round a curve the Peace River Canyon stretched below you with a bright blue bridge over the river and Taylor on the other side.

Bridging the Peace River was one of the major obstacles in building the Alaska Highway. 2 ferries capable of carrying 10 trucks per hour did the first crossings in May 1942. 3 different bridges were constructed only to be washed out by high water. Work began on the first permanent structure in December 1942 and completed in July 1943. This bridge collapsed in 1957 and the current cantilever bridge was completed in 1960

Taylor is an industrial community of 1300, centered around a gas processing plant and a lumber mill. It was established in 1955 after fining natural gas in the area. The Duke Energy natural gas pipeline reached to Vancouver and Western Washington. Taylor is also famous for the World's Invitational Gold Panning Championships held each August.

Fort St. John with 16,000 was homesteaded in the early 1900's. During WW 2 this was Army field headquarters for the troops and engineers working on the highway. In 1955 natural gas and oil was discovered in the area and n 1958 the CNR was extended from Prince George to Fort St. John. Currently the economy is based on agriculture, oil and gas, forestry, tourism, and hydroelectric power generation.

As you come off a rise you can see the highway spread out in front of you for miles, a large swath has been cut down the middle with trees on both sides, everything is green.

Fort Nelson, named for British Lord Horatio Nelson, was started as a fur trading post in1805. This is the fifth site of the town, the first four were wiped out by fires, floods and massacres. Previously it had been linked to other communities through the river system.

1942 saw Fort Nelson as a base for the construction of the Alaska Highway. In the 1960's the discovery of oil and gas brought a boom and in 1971 the railroad arrived.

Today there is a thriving oil and gas industry, including North America's largest natural gas processing plant, forestry center and tourism. The population is around 5100.

Fueled up: diesel $4.78/gal, gas $5.12 11:50

After setting up camp at the Westend RV Park we stopped by the Heritage Museum. This is a collection of most anything and everything from the beginning of Fort Nelson. Stuffed animals, old tools, pictures and a movie on the building of the Alaska Highway. Also included in the collections are old cars, a trapper's cabin, a bunch of old equipment from the building of the highway and an expert on the area and it's history Marl Brown. From there we headed to the Visitor's Center. The girl was most helpful, gave us plenty of tips of places to stop tomorrow, cinnamon rolls for breakfast, sightseeing spots and milepost to stop at and take pictures.

At 6:15 we attended the Welcome Visitor Program and found out nearly everything about what happens in this area and the background of the town.

It is 10:30 pm and I just went out and took a picture of the rig with no flash, of course I also had to fight the mosquitoes, they are getting bigger by the mile.

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