A few tidbits include:
- it is actually not in Alaska, but rather Canada
- the highway was built by the US Army as a military protection
- the work was started before Canada gave the US permission to build a road in their country
- after it was finished, Canada purchased it from the US
- they created it by running two “Caterpillar” tractors side by side and plowing down trees (the operators were called “catskinners”)
- where the ground was to marshy to lay a road bed, they made a “corduroy road” of trees laying side by side, then covered them with back-fill to make a road surface.
- black enlisted personnel were allowed to assist, but given undesirable tasks
- the living conditions were rough and more miserable than any US Army men had ever endured, many froze to death
- they started the highway at both ends and met in the middle
- it is now a smooth, well maintained two and four lane roadway between Dawson Creek and the Alaska border. (INSERT TYPICAL HIGHWAY STRETCH)
We learned most of this in a museum in Dawson Creek. They had old photos, artifacts, a full size display of a jeep and much information about the construction of the highway. There we also found a very clever geocache hide. Can you see the geocache? Maybe this photo helps you see it better. It is in the ammo can on the passenger floor of the jeep in the museum display!
After the requisite photo at Mile 0 (Mango is NOT smiling for the camera in this one) We drove across the longest wooden bridge in Canada and spent our first night in a municipal campground. Many cities operate a small campground in their city park area. This one had a cute, restored train car as the shower house. We shared our dinner that night with a man from Seattle that is traveling to Fairbanks on a Triumph motorcycle. It was interesting to hear his story.
The next morning we discovered our first Alaska Highway damage. One cracked headlight lens and one small dent in the drivers door. If this is the worst of it, we can take it. Off we go towards Alaska!