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Alaskan HighwayAlaska is a big place—at 586,412 square miles—it is twice the size of Texas!
Due to its immense area and often challenging travel conditions, Alaskans traditionally relied heavily on air and sea transport to move people and supplies from place to place. Until the Alaskan Highway was built, no major roadways connected “the Last Frontier” to rest of the world.
Construction on the roadway—also called the "Alcan Highway" and the “Lifeline to the Northwest”—began in the Spring of 1942. Originally intended to serve as a WWII supply route, over 11,000 troops and 16,000 civilians labored together to construct the Alaskan Highway, sometimes working in temperatures of thirty to forty degrees below zero. The 1,523-mile-long span was completed nine months later, at a cost of $140,000,000.
Although the Alaskan Highway was originally a rough and rugged gravel-covered road, its construction is still today considered an engineering marvel. Now a paved, two-lane highway traversing some of North America’s most spectacular scenery, the roadway remains treacherous at times and is still the only major overland route between Alaska, Canada, and the United States. It’s most notable traveler has been a hydrogen bomb … can you image moving nuclear weapon over such a rocky, dangerous road?
In the best of conditions, it takes several days to drive from mile marker 0, at Dawson Creek, British Columbia to its endpoint 98 miles south of Fairbanks, Alaska in Delta Junction. Some notable points of interest along the way:
· Mile 437: Muncho Lake, British Columbia
This remote seven-mile lake is known for its green and blue waters, created by copper oxides leached from the bedrock.
· Mile 613: Watson Lake, Yukon
Population: about 1,547
Check out Signpost Forest: It all began in 1942 when a homesick U.S. Army soldier posted a sign there pointing in the direction to his hometown and how many miles away it was. Signpost Forest now boasts over 52,000 such signs from all over the world!
· Mile 887: Whitehorse, Yukon
Population: about 23,205
Established as a trans-shipment point during the Klondike Gold Rush of 1898, Whitehorse is the capital city of Yukon and is also headquarters for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
· Mile 1221: Canadian/US Border Crossing
Also called “Port Alcan.”
· Mile 1314: Tok, Alaska
Population: about 1,415
Rhymes with “Coke.” With its beginnings as an Alaska Road Commission camp in the 1940s, Tok is the first major Alaskan town on the Alcan Highway, and serves as a crossroads and trade center for several Athabascan Native villages. Tok is also a center for sled dog breeding, training, and mushing.
source courtesy of: http://www.ltia.lynden.com/ltia/howbig.html