Monday, July 12, 2010

Day 57 – Tok Alaska

Today is a no drive day expect for the mail run to the post office (twice) to pick up the mail. The mail had not yet arrived when I went in the morning but was there in the afternoon as it arrived on today’s truck.

It was also a good day to clean the inside of the coach as the rain has settled the dust and to do a couple of loads of laundry.

It has rain so much over the last couple of days that it washed out a large section of a concrete bridge on the Taylor Highway (Also known as the Top of the World Highway) just pass Chicken. The Top of the World Highway connects Tok with Dawson City, Yukon. The highway is now closed until the bridge can be repaired. Our only plans for the Taylor Highway are to visit Chicken so we are not affected. Most likely we will make the Chicken run tomorrow.

There seems to be several theories on how Tok was named. The most popular is that the GIs named their camp Tok, short for Tokyo, during the building of the Alaskan Highway during WWII. Another story is that an Alaskan Husky puppy wondered into the camp, was adopted by the 97th Engineers and named Tok. Tok became the camp’s mascot and the camp’s name. Tok had a best friend, a black bear cub, named Dynamite. The antics of the two playing together gave the over-worked men hours of pleasure. Another is that “Tok” is an Indian name for water and the area was named Tok by the natives. In another version, the name Tok is derived from the Athabascan word for "peaceful crossing. My money is on the puppy’s version.

When one is traveling to and back from Alaska by highway, one has to pass through Tok twice as the only land road to Alaska passes through Tok. It is the first and last town in Alaska, for visitors traveling the Alaska Highway.

Tok’s short history began in 1942 as an Alaska road commission camp during the building of the Alaska Highway and it has never looked back. Those working on the highway spent so much money in the camps erection and maintenance that it earned the name “Million Dollar Camp.” In 1944 a branch of the Northern Commercial Company was opened and in 1946 Tok was established as a town site. With the completion of the Alaska Highway a post office and a roadhouse were built. In 1947 the first school was opened.

In the 1940s and 1950s, another highway, the Tok Cut-Off was constructed and connected Tok with the Richardson Highway at Glennallen. It was a "cut-off" because it allowed motor travelers from the lower United States to travel to Valdez and Anchorage in south-central Alaska without going further north to Delta Junction and then traveling south on the Richardson Highway.

On January 10, 2009 Tok made headlines with an unconfirmed temperature reading of -80°F.

As of the census of 2000, there were 1,393 people living in the Tok area. The population density was 10.5 people per square mile (6.1/km²).

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You have now seen all there is to see in Tok. By the way Fast Eddy’s is the most popular place to eat in town. It is also the only restaurant in town.

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