Saturday, July 3, 2010

Day 47 – Liard Hot Springs to Watson Lake, Yukon

Today’s Mileage 172
Miles to Date 4457
Miles Remaining 5185

IMG_0327 We are now at Watson Lake, Yukon Territory. The RV Park that we are staying at has WiFi, a little on the slow side but so far reliable, so I have uploaded the videos for the previous days and reposted the blogs.


It rained all last night. This morning was cloudy but no rain during the drive. There were quite a few animals along the road side, bison and bears. It looks as if they too were enjoying a break in the rain.


We stopped for lunch at Contact Creek. Contact Creek was named by soldiers of the 35th IMG_0323 Regiment from the south and the 340th Regiment from the north who met here on September 24, 1942. This historic meeting marked the completion of the southern sector of the Alaskan Highway pioneer road, a feat achieved in under seven months.

Within the next few days, the road was pushed through as far as Whitehorse, Yukon, at that time a highway distance of 1030 miles from mile 0 at Dawson Creek. On September 24, the first through truck to Whitehorse from Dawson Creek completed the grueling journey in 71 driving hours averaging speeds of a little more than 15 miles per hour.


Completion of the northern sector of the highway occurred on October 29, 1942 with the dramatic meeting of bulldozer operators of the 18th and 97th Engineers in the woods of Beaver Creek, 20 miles east of the Yukon-Alaskan border. A month later, on November 20, 1942, dignitaries arrived – most by plane – for the official commissioning of the highway.


Construction of the military pioneer road was completed by 11,000 American Officers and soldiers in little more than eight months. The cost was estimated at $19.7 million. But the real job – to build an all season highway from Dawson Creek to Big Delta, Alaska – was far from over. Civilian workers, coordinated by U.S. Public Roads Administration, would spend another year in the north building permanent bridges and culverts and straightening, widening and generally rebuilding the military pioneer road.


The Alaskan Highway was opened to civilian traffic in 1946. The “all season” road was driveable, but challenging. It would take many more decades of upgrading, paving and rebuilding to create the highway that we are driving today.


Today cars, double trailer trucks and RV’s can travel from the lower 48 all the way up toIMG_0324 Fairbanks or Anchorage, Alaska on a modern highway. Well there are some breaks in the pavement (stretches of gravel road either muddy or dusty) as the highway is still a work in progress. The difference is this time Canada is footing the bill for the stretch of highway in their turf.






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