Saturday, July 3, 2010

Day 44 – Sikanni River to Junction of 97 & 77

Today’s Mileage 142
Miles to Date 4155
Miles Remaining 5487

Today’s travel took us through Fort Nelson to the junction of highways 97 (Alaskan Highway and 77 (Fort Liard, NWT). This is the point that we would have joined the Alaskan Highway had we took highway 2 after leaving Yellowknife. It was a wise decision to back track instead of taking highway 2 as we talked to a couple in Ft. St. John that took that route. They said that the gravel highway was very rough, muddy and soft. They are traveling in a four-wheel drive truck with a camper.

We stopped for lunch at Fort Nelson which was originally Mile 0 of the Alaskan Highway. Once the Alaskan Highway was completed, the existing road between Dawson Creek, Fort St. John and Fort Nelson was improved and Mile Post 0 was relocated to Dawson Creek. Fort Nelson is now mile 300.

Fort Nelson is located in the lee of the Rocky Mountains, surrounded by the Muskwa, Fort Nelson and Prophet Rivers. Flowing east and north, the Muskwa, Prophet and Sikanni Chief rivers converge to form the Fort Nelson River, which empties into the Arctic Ocean. Rivers provided the only means of transportation in both summer and winter until 1922 when the Godsell Trail opened, connecting Fort Nelson with Fort St. John. The Alaskan Highway linked Fort Nelson with the outside in 1942.

Fort Nelson aboriginal people are mostly Dene, who arrived here about 1775 from the Great Slave Lake. Fort Nelson was first established in 1805 by the North West Fur Trading Company and was named for Lord Horatio Nelson, the English admiral who won the Battle of Trafalgar.

After lunch we toured the Fort Nelson Heritage Museum. The museum has a good collection of equipment from WWII used to build the Alaskan Highway. The museum founder, curator and main refurbisher is very proud of his auto collection, all of which he keeps in running condition.

IMG_0303 The collections includes a 1909, single cylinder Brush that still has its original wood frame, axles and wheels.

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Alaskan Highway WWII Construction Equipment

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