Construction of the Alcan Highway, spanning 1422 miles from Dawson Creek, British Columbia to Delta Junction, Alaska was completed in just 8 months and 21 days, officially opening on November 20, 1942 with a ceremony at Kluane Lake.   This tremendous feat was accomplished by 16,000 American and Canadian soldiers and civilians who labored 7 days a week in severe, inhospitable conditions. |
But, due to the critical wartime urgency, the "highway," when it was opened was barely passable in some areas.   Constant fixing was required.   When we traveled the highway in 1971, after 39 years of fixing, it was only about 1/4 paved.
Today, 58 years after completion, we have a beautiful highway that is smooth and safe.   Due to straightening in many areas, the highway is shorter, hence the need to designate "historical" mileposts which are not the same as actual mileposts.   But even now, construction continues, improving the route and the surface.
Alaska Highway improvements near the Yukon border in British Columbia
An interesting tradition was started in 1942 by Carl Lindly, an Army engineer from Danville, Illinois. Signs were erected as a reminder of home.   Beginning with just a few signs then, the tradition has continued until now there are 42,000 signs in a sign forest at Watson Lake, Yukon.
Behind the "forest" is a very interesting visitor's center with a wealth of information about the construction of the Alaska Highway.