Alcan Highway Stories -
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March on the Alcan Highway
It was March, 1966, when my husband and I left the big city to go somewhere that scared me to death. Destination: Anchorage, Alaska via something called …
Traveled so many times I Can't Remember How Many
My family's first trip on the Alcan was in 1961-62. I was 8-9. Mom, dad, brother (5 years older), and me. We were moving to Alaska! My dad …
What I learned driving the Alcan Highway 7 times.
During college and grad school years I had occasion to drive the Alcan seven times. My first trip was in 1967 from Tacoma to Anchorage. My father …
No Ordinary Canary
At age 11, I traveled the Alaska Highway from Wyoming to Anchorage with my father, my mother, my sister and two brothers — not to mention a dog, a captured …
Alcan Trip with a White Cat, Pink Tail
My family moved to Anchorage in February 1966 when I was 13 in 2 station wagons, a camping trailer, 4 kids a dog and two cats. Both cats were great …
The Alcan Highway Experience
Back in the day, it was one heck of a drive. It was a narrow, gravel covered dirt road that wound through the Canadian wilderness like it had been laid …
What Happened to Sergeant Preston?
Driving the Alcan highway back in the day included many unexpected experiences . This was one of them - Growing up, all kids have images in their …
The Alcan Highway in 1952 Not rated yet
In the summer of 52, my dad and I drove our 1952 Desoto to L. A. for the VFW convention. When we got to Whitehorse, the road was 2 feet deep in mud. …
My Mother Drove the Alcan Highway Twice Not rated yet
My mother first drove from Dayton, Ohio to Anchorage in 1951. My parents met and married in Alaska when my father came to Anchorage. They had to move …
Born of Ice, (Excerpt from my book, Chiseled, A Memoir of Identity, Duplicity and Divine Wine Not rated yet
THE TERRAIN CHANGED AGAIN FROM THE tundra and the black edge of a frozen river to the sudden iridescence of turquoise walls. The tires lost traction and …
Bridges (Excerpt from my book, Chiseled, A Memoir of Identity, Duplicity and Divine Wine) Not rated yet
WE LOST THE ROAD AT THE HIGHEST POINT ON the Alaska Highway. Fluffy, white snow camouflaged a varnish of ice up Steamboat Mountain as the Ford snorted …
The Alcan Highway, also known as the Alaska Highway, Alaska Canadian Highway, or the "Alcan", officially begins in Dawson Creek, Canada and ends at Delta Junction, Alaska.
On the Canadian side, when you're driving the highway up to Alaska, the famous sign above is the perfect place to stop and take a picture or even a "selfie", just to prove you were there.
The rough Alcan Highway that greeted travelers when the road first opened around 1947, and for many years that followed, was nothing more than a barely two lane gravel-covered dirt road that curved around all over the place.
the summer it was dusty, and when it rained, the fine dust turned into a
slick slim. And the rocks on the road were a constant source of flat tires.
Back then, gravel constantly pelted your car
As cars and trucks passed you on the other side, gravel flying through the air, caused many a broken headlight and cracked thousands of windshields.
In fact, replacing headlights, windshields and repairing flat tires became a great way to make money for the few service stations along the way.
But gas stations weren't the only thing that was scarce.
Grocery stores and places to eat and stop
for the night were few and far between. If you were driving at night and
you stopped your car and turned off the motor, what you heard was total
silence, especially in the Yukon Territory where there are miles and
miles of wilderness.
When you had a breakdown out in the middle of who knows where, you were totally at the mercy of others who were driving the road. Fortunately, drivers would always stop to offer assistance.
In the winter, the Alcan Highway gave you different problems. Ice and snow covered the road and driving conditions and cold temperatures were dangerous.
The original road was 1,700 miles long. But over the years, construction on the highway has straightened out many of the curves, twist and turns. So today's Alaska Canadian Highway is 1,387 miles in length, or about 313 miles shorter.
Today, if you look closely while traveling the now paved highway, you can still see a few sections of the original dirt road. And if you can, pull over, stop and take a look at the old road. And try to imagine what driving that narrow "highway" must have been like back in the day.
Erik's mom traveled the Alaska Highway with her family in 1947 from Boulder, Colorado, and the next year she graduated from Anchorage High School in 1948.
Just look at the early day Alcan travelers in the photos above.
Can you imagine?
But the difficulties and trials encountered in the highway's early days, did not keep those pilgrims from their goal of reaching Alaska.
What are your memories?
A movie about the construction of the highway
Because the Alcan was constructed during World War II, a Hollywood movie was produced about the highway's construction titled "Alaska Highway."
The movie starred Richard Arlen and Jean Parker.
You can watch the entire movie right here. Just turn up the sound, sit back and enjoy Hollywood's version of the highway.
Construction of this incredible road began during World War II because the United States needed to be connected to Alaska.
The only way to do that was by creating a highway through Canada. And that meant lots of wilderness.
As you might imagine, construction of the highway was incredibly difficult. Just getting building supplies, equipment and crews into position was a major undertaking.
Then, in 1942, the Alaska Canadian Highway was completed.
But the highway didn't open to the public until around 1947.
Thousands and thousands of travelers have stopped to rest at the Watson Lake "Sign Post Forest" and many have contributed to this fascinating place by telling their Alcan Highway Stories with the signs they leave behind.
If you really take the time to look, you'll spot lots of interesting signs and license plates from all over the world. Many of the signs look as if they were "removed" from their original location somewhere else in the world and relocated to the Sign Post Forest.
Today, the highway is more like a very long Sunday drive. It's paved and there are lots of places where you can pull over, get gas for your car, get breakfast, lunch or dinner and stay for the night.
The highway has come a long way from it's beginning as a barely two lane dirt and gravel road carved out of the wilderness.
Yesterday and today It's an incredibly scenic drive through beautiful forests, valleys and over majestic mountains.
The road also passes by huge, crystal clear lakes and follows along swift moving rivers.
There are also plenty of towns, lodges and beautiful places to spend the night or park your RV.
When you make the drive today, try to imagine when it was just a narrow, two lane, gravel-covered dirt road. Then try to imagine how difficult it was for the many thousands who drove the highway back in the day.Adults, who as children, took the journey with their parents back in the day, still recall the amazing road trip and have plenty of interesting stories to tell.
What are your Alcan Highway Stories?
Post your story so we can share your experiences.
To learn more about this one-of-a-kind road, visit the Alaska Highway House right now