Alaska March 14, 2019
The Craziest Engineering Feat In Alaska Since The Panama Canal That You’ll Want To Drive
The Alaska Highway is world famous. Many people put this road trip of a lifetime on their bucket list. With almost 1,400 miles of paved highway, this incredible drive is worth putting in vacation time for! You can travel from Canada all the way to Delta Junction, or continue on to Fairbanks, or even the Arctic Circle, if you wanted!
The Alaska Highway, also known as the ALCAN Highway, was originally 1,700 miles long!
The route was approved in 1942 during World War II as a means of getting supplies to Alaska after the Pearl Harbor attack. Construction took 9 months for completion, but it wasn't open to the public until 1948. Even though they completed the route so quickly, 99% of the supplies ended up being shipped to Alaska.
Mile 0, or the start of the Alaska Highway, is in Dawson City, British Columbia, Canada.
It currently runs 1,387 miles all the way to Delta Junction, Alaska. Over 1,200 of these miles are all in Canada, snaking from British Columbia through the Yukon territory.
Originally none of the road was paved. It was completely crafted from dirt and gravel!
Many people experienced popped tires, and the average speed was close to 30mph on the highway. Now the entire road is paved, with only areas under construction experiencing a rough road.
The expense of building this road was over $138 million dollars in 1948. This figure is the number before paying the 16,000 soldiers and civilians!
Classifieds that ran to hire workers detailed the harsh conditions they would labor under. The adverts told of temperatures that would range from 90 degrees F to 70 degrees below zero. They also explained how workers would build through swamps, up large mountains, and deal with wildlife ranging from bears to mosquitoes!
The construction aspect was just as difficult as the advertisements made it out to be.
Between hold ups for spare parts, frozen ground that was nearly impossible to dig through, and the exhausting pace of the hard manual labor, the need for more manpower grew. After the attack on Alaska's Aleutian Islands, that need was recognized and quickly fulfilled by the US War Department.
The engineers and laborers managed to lay road at an incredible eight miles per day!
They built over 200 bridges over streams and rivers, and at its highest altitude, laid road at 4,212 feet! After the road was officially completed in 1943, over 11,000 workers stayed on to continue widening the road, and replace temporary bridges with strong, steel construction.
Due to constant reconstruction of the highway, including straightening some sections, the route is now only 1,387 miles long.
The route officially ends in Delta Junction, although many people like to continue on to Fairbanks, the Alaska Highway's "unofficial" ending. This adds an additional 96 miles onto the route. The mile markers throughout Canada and Alaska are regularly updated to reflect the changing of the road length.
A highly recommended source of information, The Milepost is a publication dating back from 1949 that helps you on your trip on the Alaska Highway.
This guide details what you will find at each milepost. Now the road is primarily filled with those who want to enjoy the long, gorgeous ride up the the northern climates. Many gas stations, lodges, and restaurants can be found along the route to help visitors who are traveling through. It is still considered one of the most epic road trips in the world!
Have you ever traveled the entire Alaska Highway? What did you think? Let us know the favorite stops on your trip in the comments below!
If you do decide to drive the Alaska Highway, make sure to stop at
This Quirky Roadside Attraction In Alaska Is Totally Unique And Worth A Stop!