On December 7, 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, setting in motion the creation of the Alaska Highway, formerly known as the Alcan (Alaska-Canada) Highway. On February 11, 1942 President Roosevelt authorized construction of the highway, for the military to get supplies up to Alaska, so North America could defend itself against the Japanese.
Construction officially began on March 8, 1942 near Dawson Creek, British Columbia and was completed just eight months later on October 25, 1942. It was a remarkable feat of design and engineering. This year marks the 80th anniversary of the highway.
*The original highway was 1,523 miles. Over time, road improvements shortened the highway by 35 miles.
*11,000 US troops worked with 16,000 American and Canadian civilians to build the road with 7,000 pieces of equipment.
*Over 133 bridges were constructed along with 8,000 culverts.
*The total cost to complete the highway was $140 million dollars.
*The road opened to public use in 1948.
Here’s a help wanted ad regarding the highway (sounds enticing!)
MILE 0 DAWSON CREEK
Dawson Creek, British Columbia is the beginning of the Alaska Highway, and is a popular stop for travelers on the way to Alaska. The visitor center has a big sign with the flags of Canada, US and the province of British Columbia. If there’s a sign, we will be stopping!
The “official” mile marker is two blocks away from the visitors center, and most people seemed to miss it. But then again, it’s right smack dab in the middle of an intersection so you have to watch for traffic in all four directions….which we did!
The visitors center has a nice museum, a long movie about the building of the highway, and some displays of wildlife that we hope to see on our journey. The red arrow on the bottom right is pointing to that elusive porcupine. I’ve been looking…still no luck!
The people running the visitors center obviously have a good sense of humor, as some of the mannequins have masks in their hands! All the locals have been patiently waiting for the tourists (and our money) to return!
We went out to breakfast with Karen and Al at Stuie’s Diner in Dawson Creek. The 1950’s themed diner is in an old railroad car, and has a lot of Elvis memorabilia. Definitely worth a stop – the food was good and reasonably priced!
I’m going to use this sign on the wall at the diner for my Quote of the Day: