Alcan Highway Stories

You'll love reading these Alcan Highway stories told by people who have driven and 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 HighwayOriginal Highway


The highway officially begins in Dawson Creek, Canada and ends at Delta Junction, Alaska.


Alaska Canadian Highway SignDawson Creek, BC sign marks the start

On the Canadian side, when you're driving the Alcan 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 Old "Highway"

When It First Opened


Old Alaska HighwayMiles and miles of rough gravel road

When the road first opened around 1947, and 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 a slick muddy 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 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, 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 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.

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 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. And try to imagine what driving that narrow road must have been like back in the day.


Tell Us Your Alcan Highway Experiences

Everyone is waiting for you to share your stories!

Check out these Alcan Highway Stories

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 Alaskan Highway in a Volkswagen bus. I was being discharged from the US Army …

He Tried to Kill Me! 
I have driven the Alcan 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 back …

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 …

My Family has History
with the Alcan Highway
 Not rated yet
My paternal grandparents Thorolf and Helen Almdale were told in May of 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 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 …

Click here to write your own.



On the Road

1947

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

Photo courtesy of Gene Gough

I want to read his families "Alcan Diary" right now






Flat Tire

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)



Alcan Highway

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

This photo 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?



(year unknown)

Photo Below Courtesy of Marci Peterson

Alaska highwayMarci Peterson challenging the winter highway

Did You Know?



Movie Poster.Hollywood's version of the road

There is a movie about the construction of the highway



Because the Alcan was constructed during World War II, a Hollywood movie was produced about the road's construction, and it's importance during the war, titled "Alaska Highway."


The movie starred Richard Arlen and Jean Parker.


Alcan Highway

History


Construction

Alcan construction.Rough going

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 clearing though a lot of wilderness.


As you might imagine, construction 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 road didn't open to the public until around 1947.




Stories Told with Signs


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 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.




The highway

as it Looks Today

The highway todayA paved highway greets today's travelers

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, breakfast, lunch or dinner and stay for the night.

The road has come a long way from it's beginning as a barely two lanes of dirt and gravel carved out of the wilderness.



The Alcan Highway Ends

at Delta Junction, Alaska

Delta Junction, AlaskaCommemorating the end of the highway

A tribute to the construction

of the highway



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, 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 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.


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