Saturday, July 3, 2010

Day 48 – Watson Lake


Early in 1897, American (Lake Tahoe) Frank Watson at the age of 14 left California and headed north with his father to seek gold in the Klondike. They worked two claims on Bonanza Creek until sometime after the flood of 1903 when he headed to the Upper Liard River area. He was the first white man to travel over land to this area, most traveled on the rivers. He married Adela Stone and they settled on the shores of Fish Lake, later to be known as Watson Lake and led a life of a prospector and trapper. He moved his family a few miles north to Windid Lake as more people started to settle in the area.




Watson Lake is a town at historical mile 635 on the Alaska Highway in the southeastern Yukon close to the British Columbia border. Population in December 2004 was 1,547. Watson Lake is at historical mile 635 on the Alaska Highway.

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Watson Lake was an important point during the construction of the Alaskan Highway in 1942. The airport built in 1941 was one of the major refueling stops along the Northwest Staging Route, the system of fields through Canada to ferry supplies to Alaska and later lend-lease aircraft to Russia.

Speed was the key on the Pioneer Road of ’42. Nearly running down the surveyors ahead, teams of Caterpillar tractors leveled the trees and pushed them aside. Behind were graders, gravel trucks and bridge and culvert building crews. Working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, progress was made despite the problems of quagmires, landslides, bugs and floods.



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Downtown Watson Lake July 3, 2010

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