The legendary Alaska Highway is pretty well history now - no more gravel, no more Suicide Hills, far fewer curves...
What lies in front of you now is a modern highway through a spectacular, mostly uninhabited land. But if you care to look, the ghosts of the old highway are everywhere. As part of the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the highway in 1992, 40 interpretive panels were installed at historically significant points. The information that follows is largely reprinted from a 1992 brochure published jointly by the governments of B.C., the Yukon, and Alaska. For a look at the entire 1422-mile (2288.4 kilometer) highway in all seasons, have a look at our Alaska Highway Photo Album.
Pouce Coupe, British Columbia, Canada,www.poucecoupe.capopulation 740, is 6 miles (10km) east of Dawson Creek – I spent a day in Pouce Coupe visiting the museum and viewing the vintage railway trestle.
All American men and equipment bound for Dawson Creek to build the ALCAN Highway would have crossed this trestle. The railroad trestle is still standing today, but is no longer in use. Pouce Coupe
The Alaska Highway begins at Mile 0 in Dawson Creek, BC. The first 613 miles/987 km of the Alaska Highway are in British Columbia, where it is designated BC Highway 97 North. The highway travels in a northwesterly direction to the Yukon Territory border near Watson Lake, YT (Historical Mile 635). From there it continues as Yukon Highway 1, crossing 577 miles/929 km of Yukon Territory to Port Alcan on the Alaska border. The Alaska Highway crosses into Alaska at Historical Mile 1221.8, where it becomes Alaska Route 2. From this international border, it is 200 miles/322 km to Delta Junction, AK (Historical Mile 1422), the official end of the Alaska Highway, and 298 miles to Fairbanks, the unofficial end of the highway, at Historical Mile 1520.
Road conditions on the Alaska Highway are not unlike road conditions on many secondary roads in the Lower 48. It is the tremendous length of the highway, combined with its remoteness and the extremes of the Northern climate, that often result in surprises along this highway. Historically speaking, however, the Alaska Highway has rarely been closed by any weather-related event, and even then usually not longer than a day.
Historic Mile 2 Cantel Repeater Station: Cantel Telephone-teletype lines stretched from Alberta to Fairbanks, Alaska, making it one of the world's longest open wire toll circuits at the time.
Historic Mile 21 Kiskatinaw Bridge/Wallace A. MacKey Ltd: A 162-meter curved structure, one of the first of its kind in Canada, is the only original timber bridge built along the highway that is still in use today. This image was taken looking north from the south east corner of the bridge.
However, because of the weight limitations of this bridge the ALCAN Highway was rerouted to the west in 1979 and currently travelers cross a newer steel bridge. The guardrails were updated in summer 2014, after I took this image.
Historic Mile 35 Taylor and the Peace River Bridge/1st Main Army Camp 341st Engineers: Before the Peace was bridged in 1943, the ferry from Taylor served as the major link across the river. The original Peace River suspension bridge, the longest bridge on the highway, collapsed in 1957. www.districtoftaylor.com
Historic Mile 49 : Camp Alcan and the Public Roads Administration Headquarters/Okes Management Contracting Headquarters – Standard Salt & Cement Company, Art Boiler, Sorenson & Volden, R.M. Smith Headquarters. As the southern sector headquarters for the United States Military and Public Roads Administration, FortSt John was the site of two large construction camps – pyramid tents and Quonset huts – erected in open fields just outside of town.
Historic Mile 52: CharlieLake Mile 0 Army Tote Road. Site of a major distribution camp for workers and supplies heading north. Three American soldiers also drowned here in 1942 while crossing the lakeabord “pontoon bargers.”
Historic Mile 72:The Shepherd’s Inn; popular food stop with gas, diesel, propane and lodging.
Historic Mile 73: Beatton River Flight Strip is one of the four gravel air strips constructed in northern British Columbia, Yukon and Alaska to provide emergency landing facilities for American military aircraft heading north.
Beatton River, BC
Emergency landing strip. Historic Milepost 73
Historic Mile 101: Blueberry Control Station (gate), a 24 – hour military checkpoint operated by U.S. Army personnel through the war years.
Historical Mile 143: PINK MOUNTAIN (pop. 99). Sunrise at PinkMountain is spectacular and a must see and photograph.
Historic Mile 148 Suicide Hill is one of the most treacherous hills on the original highway noted for its ominous greeting: PREPARE TO MEET THY MAKER.
Historic Mile 234 Adsett Creek Highway Realignment: Completed in 1992, this major rerouting eliminated 132 curves on the stretch of highway that originally ran between Miles 234 and 275.
Historical Mile 300. Fort Nelson, BC is a friendly town founded during the fir trade. Fort NelsonMuseum showcases the construction of the Alaska Highway. Between Fort Nelson and Muncho Lake look for Stones Sheep, American Bison and other wildlife.
Was main refueling/servicing point on route; 1460th AAFBU ATC Alaskan Division. Remained as joint RCAF/USAF base until about 1949; hosted Det.2, 1701st Air Transport Wing (MATS) Historic Milepost 300
Historical Mile 375. Tetsa River
Historic Milepost 392, Summit Lake; no services. Summit Pass (elev. 4,250 feet/1,295m), highest summit on the Alaska Highway. Summit Lake (Stone Mountain) Provincial Campground. The campground here is dry camp only with back-in rv spots not to exceed 30' in length. There is a large parking lot across the highway where larger vehicles can park overnight.
At 4,250 feet, this is the highest summit on the highway. At Mile 397, crews had to blast through the rock to create a road. This is Stone Mountain and there will be anywhere between 1 and 100 Stone Sheep on the clifts above and below. There is only one pull-out at the cliff. Everytime I pass this point, I get several new images of Stone Sheep.
Historic Mile 422 Toad River/Camp 138 Jupp Construction: The community was established by Dennis and John Callison who, upon leading Public Roads Administration surveyors into the area in the winter of 1941, saw opportunities there and staked their claim.
Historic Mile 456: Muncho Lake/ Refuling Stop and Checkpoint - The road around the lake was a particular challenge. Workers had to cut their way through the lake's rocky banks and use horse-pulled stone boats to haul the rock away.This is the only lodge open year round between Fort Nelson and Watson Lake.
Historical Mile 496: Liard River Hotsprings Provincial Park; camping. Stop at the LiardRiverHot SpringsProvincialPark and bath in the natural pools.
Historic Milepost 635, Watson Lake (pop. 1,563); all services. Junction of the Alaska and the Campbell highways. Attractions: Watson Lake Signpost Forest and view over 67,900 license plates, road shields and homemade signs, Northern Lights Centre.
Historic Mile 649, junction with the Cassiar Highway. They have a very nice RV park here with full hook-up.
Even though I did not manage to get a photograph of it, this is the location where I spotted the largest Bull Moose I have ever seen. I must have weighed somewhere around 2000 lbs and had about an 8 foot rack. It lives on protected land owned by Junction 37 Services and no hunting is allowed. Even the local First Nation will not shoot it as it is to big and to old.
Refueling/servicing airfield; 1462d AAFBU ATC Alaskan Division; also known as Whitehorse Army Air Base. Remained as joint RCAF/USAF base until about 1949; hosted Det.3, 1701st Air Transport Wing (MATS).
Visitors Center: In 2013 I was invited by a local First Nation Individual to tour his private Alaska Highway Museum. He has a collection of over 1000 artifactes from the construction of the highway. He gathered many items as they took them apart and discarded them in the trash. The only true all highway artifact museum on the highway.