Thursday, August 26, 2010

Building Alaska Hiway. P & N Back in Canada.

As you may know, my brother Nigel, and sister-in-law Pamala, are visiting here from England, and are having the trip of a lifetime in Alaska, Canada and the lower US.  I follow their journey when they can get in touch to let me know where they are, through FaceBook or Skype.    WiFi has been pretty spotty. 
This has heightened my interest to know more about AK, the Alaska Highway, and all the other highways, some of which are just gravel.

Army uses heavy equipment on Alaska Highway
"When construction began, the engineers quickly ran into a problem. The route on the map did not match the route suitable on the ground. Builders had to construct segments that followed existing winter roads and old Indian trails. Some of the road followed rivers, but that was rare because the builders were afraid their construction would create landslides into the rivers.
In the summer of 1942, engineers employed 20-ton bulldozers, but were only able to cover six miles a day. That was due to subarctic forest that was so difficult to push through. They built without grades or curves, making their way through the forest — wherever the bulldozer would go. Those segments were not built for cars or trucks — they were built for bulldozers.:
Alaska Highway

February 6, 1942 - Alaska Highway construction approved by United States Army.

February 11, 1942 - President Roosevelt authorizes construction of the Alaska Highway.

March 8, 1942 - Construction of the Alaska Highway officially begins.

June 7, 1942 - Japanese invade Kiska Island in the Aleutians. Attu Island is also occupied.

September 24, 1942 - Northern and Southern crews meet at Contact Creek.

November 20, 1942 - Official dedication of the Alaska Highway at Soldiers Summit.

April 1, 1946 - Transfer of the Canadian portion of the Alaska Highway from the U.S. to the Canadian Army, Northwest Highway System.

More at:

PBS did a documentary about it, too:

David Hartman on YouTube:

This is a 10 minute video, Part 1 of 6.  He explains how The Day of Infamy (7th. Dec. 1941) prompted getting this highway built as quickly as possible.

There are some ads in it, but it is still interesting, and informative.  The other 5 parts can be seen too.

Pamala and Nigel Skyped me last night, and they have been on a convoy on The Top of The World Highway, which has been affected by lots of washouts due to rain:

Nigel & Pamala: "The Top of the World Highway was something else,  they have really been doing a lot of work on it, but the places where it washed away, would have been treacherous in the rain.     Couldn't believe we were doing that, we had about 40 (at a guess) vehicles in our convoy (all sorts), we went on the 2nd convoy as the first was even bigger and left at 8 a,.m., we should have left at 12 but it was not until 1.10 p.m. and it took 2 hours to do 30 miles and then soon after that we hit the Canadian border."

Here is one of their pictures:

A tricky bit on the Top of the World

Can you imagine being on that highway when it is partially washed out?

Top of the World Highway
Customs/border crossing on the Top of the World Highway.

Now Pamala and Nigel are in Dawson City, Canada, and are on their way to Faro and Watson Lake, on the Klondike and Campbell Highways.

Tok-Dawson-City-Top-World-Hiway (Medium)


Ray and I jacked up the cargo trailer some more.

We had to get an adjustable jack stand under it, so we could put more blocks under the jack, and we replaced the wheel.  Then we started to look at what could be done with the paint on it.
I got out a couple of those floppy paint strippers/sanders that go on a drill, and even though we had already pressure washed the trailer, we still beat off some more loose paint.

Old-furnace-tube-cargo-trailerInside there was a big vented metal tube, probably to a furnace, which we removed, so that left the vent on the outside. 

Old furnace vent-cargo trailer

We removed it, took it in the workshop and banged the vent louvers shut, then put a sheet of white metal behind it, put butyl putty tape around it, and screwed it back on.  It will be caulked after it is painted, and we can insulate and fill in the hole from the inside.

Ray got called away, so that was it for today.


pidge said...

Thanks Penny for answering my question yesterday. I will look the next time I am in a large grocery for organic foods. Looks like you are staying busy....

Gypsy said...

I would love to see Alaska, but would not be happy sitting in those convoys waiting for my turn to move. If I ever get there it will be via airplane during the off season.

KarenInTheWoods and Steveio said...

Gosh, I LOVED David Hartman! From Good Morning America and before that on the show Lucas Tanner as an actor. He was such an interesting character.

Karen and Steve
(Our Blog) RVing: Small House... BIG Backyard