Why Building of the Alaska Highway is Still an Epic Feat 75 Years Later (TranBC – August 10, 2017)


Driven by wartime urgency, the building of the Alaska Highway remains an epic accomplishment, 75 years later. The highway began as a dream.

In the 1920s, the United States wanted a route through Canada to connect Alaska – its largest and most sparsely populated territory – with the 48 states south of the 49th parallel. Some 800 kilometres of land lay between Alaska and the rest of the US. With no overland way across northern BC and the Yukon to Alaska, the northernmost US state was reliant on air and marine transport.

Back then, Canada was just not interested – there was little to be gained, and the next decade brought the Great Depression.

Wartime Drive

That all changed when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour, Hawaii, on Dec. 7, 1941. The US entered the Second World War and a supply and defence route became critical to both nations. Canada agreed to building of the Alaska-Canada highway, on the condition that the United States foot the bill, and that the route be turned over to Canada after the war.

In March 8, 1942, hundreds of pieces of construction equipment arrived by train at Dawson Creek. More than 10,000 American soldiers were stationed by US Army Corps of Engineers, in Alaska, BC and the Yukon, to build the highway starting from different locations.

A Dream or a Nightmare?

If the highway was a dream come true, the making of it was a nightmare. The northern winter was harsher than most of the soldiers had ever known or could have imagined. The summer brought sweltering temperatures, choking dust and bloodthirsty masses of mosquitoes and blackflies.

For the rest of this article: https://www.tranbc.ca/2017/08/10/why-building-of-the-alaska-highway-is-still-an-epic-feat-75-years-later/