quote from the Alaska Highway House exhibitWhat so special about the Alcan Highway? It was built in Canada by the United States military and civilians in response to bombing of Pearl Harbor.The Alaska-Canada Highway or Alcan Highway starts at Dawson Creek and officially ends at Fairbanks. It is 1,523 miles. There were 11,000 US troops used in the construction along with thousands of civilians. 133 bridges were constructed and over 8,000 culverts installed.The original highway was built in roughly in 8 months, 12 days. It is considered one of those civil engineering marvels. The conditions to build the road were less than desirable extreme heat and cold, mud, many rivers to cross, lack of equipment, mosquitoes etc.
Below is the terms of employment for civilians:
This is no picnic
Working and living conditions are as difficult as those encountered on any job done in the United States or foreign country. Men hired for this job will be required to live and work under the most extreme conditions imaginable. Temperatures will range from 90 above to 70 below. Men will have to fight swamps, rivers, ice and gnats will not only be annoying but will cause bodily harm. If you are not prepared to work under these conditions do not apply.
(found on the monument located at Fort Nelson, Fort Nelson Heritage Museum)
Throughout our journey we were constantly on the look out for the history of the Alcan history. There are some historic markers still left or re erected during the 25th and 50th anniversary of the highway along with panels describing the history of the Alcan Highway. Without a doubt the Alcan Highway has been improved over time so we actively tried to travel what was left of the old highway by taking detours. The road today is completely paved though maintenance is on-going. We went through several sections that had construction going on.
We especially liked going over Kiskatinaw Bridge. The Kiskatinaw bridge is the a timber bridge that curves nine degrees and is original to the Highway. The only original bridge that still exists. It is just outside Dawson Creek. At the Alaska Highway House, there is a model of the bridge.