ALCAN Highway Memories

You'll love these ALCAN Highway memories told by people who have driven or traveled this incredible road. From its days as a barely two-lane dirt trail, to more recent highway years.

Let your imagination take you along.


Alcan Highway

When you read these wonderful ALCAN Highway memories, keep in mind that the road first opened around 1947.

For many years that followed, it was nothing more than a barely two lane gravel-covered dirt road that curved around all over the place.

In the summer it was dusty, and when it rained, the fine dust turned into slick, slimy mud. It was a very rough drive.

Back then, gravel constantly pelted the underside of your car. And the rocks on the road caused many flat tires.

As cars and trucks passed you on the other side, gravel flying through the air broke many headlights and cracked thousands of windshields.

In fact, replacing headlights, windshields and repairing flat tires became a reliable source of income for the few service stations along the way.

But gas stations weren't the only things that were scarce.

Grocery stores and places to eat and stop for the night were few and far between. If you were driving at night, 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 nothing but 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 highway presented different problems. Ice and snow covered the road, and driving conditions and cold temperatures were dangerous.

In the stories that follow, you get to ride along and experience the fascinating memories of driving the road back in the day. Enjoy.


Tell Us Your ALCAN Highway Experiences

Everyone is waiting for you to share your stories!

Check out these ALCAN Highway Memories

Click below to see stories from other visitors to this page...

Breakdown
on the Alaskan Highway
 
It was December 1972 when I was 22 and traveling out of Alaska on the ALCAN Highway in a Volkswagen bus. I was being discharged from the US Army and …

He Tried to Kill Me! 
I have driven the ALCAN Highway a handful of times, but there was only one time when the guy I drove with tried to kill me. To be fair, he was a friend …

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 Highway was in 1961-62. I was 8-9. Mom, dad, brother (5 years older), and me. We were moving to Alaska! …

What I learned
driving the Alcan Highway
7 times.
 
During college and grad school years I had occasion to drive the ALCAN Highway seven times. My first trip was in 1967 from Tacoma to Anchorage. …

No Ordinary Canary 
At age 11, I traveled the ALCAN 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 by driving the ALCAN Highway in February 1966 when I was 13 in two station wagons, a camping trailer, 4 kids a dog and two …

The Alcan Highway
Experience
 
Back in the day, the ALCAN Highway was one heck of a drive. It was a narrow, gravel covered dirt road that wound through the Canadian wilderness like …

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 …

My Family has History
with the Alcan Highway
 Not rated yet
My paternal grandparents Thorolf and Helen Almdale were told in May 1957 that their youngest son Cy, age 36, was going to be a father at last. His …

We Could Drive
to Alaska
but not to New Zealand
 Not rated yet
My parents were school teachers and in 1956, they were teaching in a small rural school district in eastern Colorado. When they decided to find better …

The Alcan Highway
in 1952
 Not rated yet
In the summer of 52, my dad and I drove our 1952 DeSoto down the ALCAN Highway to L. A. for the VFW convention. When we got to Whitehorse, the road …

My Mother Drove
the Alcan Highway
Twice
 Not rated yet
My mother first drove the ALCAN Highway from Dayton, Ohio to Anchorage in 1951. My parents met and married in Alaska when my father came to Anchorage. …

Click here to write your own.



On the Road


1947


photo courtesy of Gene Gough


Gough family on the Alaska Highway, 1947The Gough family on the Highway


You can read about the Gough family's 1947 trip

In a diary kept by Carola Gough. A must-read.

Read her “ALCAN Highway Diary” right now






The Flat Tire Problem


Circa 1954


Photo below courtesy of Dorothy Fry


Early days on the highwayFlat tires were common in the early days

In the Picture:

Dorothy Fry (little girl), David (brother) and Roy (dad)


If you traveled the ALCAN in those days when most of the highway was gravel, you know first hand that flat tires were a real problem for travelers.

In some stories on this page, you'll read accounts where it wasn't just one flat tire, but multiple flats at the same time. And when that happened, travelers relied on the kindness of other's to help them out.

Back in the day, if you were driving the Alaska Canadian Highway, it was common courtesy to pull over when you say another vehicle stopped on the side of the road.



ALCAN Highway Memories

the early days


Photos below courtesy of Erik Park


The highway in those early daysA Check Point along the highway

Erik's mom traveled the ALCAN Highway with her family in 1947 from Boulder, Colorado, and the next year she graduated from Anchorage High School.



Alaska Canadian HighwayTaking a welcome break along the rough road

1950s


Mile 1187 Alaska Highway

The photo above by Jack Stalberg shows the barely two lane road on a cold day.


1950s


1950s signs on the highway

In this Jack Stalberg photo, the signs read that you are entering the Yukon Territory and that it's over 300 miles to Whitehorse.


1951


Photo below, courtesy of Nick Daggart


The road in winterWinter time on the highway

Just look at the early day travelers in the photos above.

Can you imagine?

But the difficulties and trials, encountered during the road's early days, did not keep those pilgrims from their goal of reaching Alaska.

What are your memories?


Photo Below Courtesy of Marci Peterson


(Year Unknown)


Alaska highwayMarci Peterson challenging the winter highway

Watson Lake Sign Post Forest

in the Yukon Territory


Watson Lake Sign Post Forest Canada.A fun stop along the way

Thousands and thousands of travelers have stopped to rest at the Watson Lake “Sign Post Forest” and many have contributed to this very different place by telling their ALCAN Highway stories with the signs they leave behind.

If you really take the time to look, you'll spot 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.


ALCAN Highway Memories


Today, the highway is more like a very long Sunday drive. It's paved and there are many places where you can pull over, get gas for your car, breakfast, lunch, or dinner and stay for the night.


When you drive the highway today, try to imagine what it was like when it was just a narrow, barely 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 remarkable road trip and have plenty of interesting stories to tell.

What are your ALCAN Highway Memories?


Post your story so we can share your experiences.


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