DAWSON CREEK: milepost 0
The Alaska Highway begins in the town of Dawson Creek, British Columbia, Canada. Mile Post 0 in the heart of Dawson Creek is a famous icon that has been photographed many, many times. The Alaska Highway is also called ‘Alcan’ for the Alaska-Canada Military Highway. It begins at Mile 0 in Dawson Creek, British Columbia and leads in a northwesterly direction through the Yukon Territory to Mile 1,520 at Fairbanks Alaska.
The Alaska Highway was built for World War II. The Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941 forced the American and Canadian governments to re-evaluate the security of North America. They needed a secure supply route to haul military goods and materials from the lower states to Alaska. The Highway had to be completed in one year. In the spring of 1942, Dawson Creek grew from a population of 600 to 10,000. US troops, engineers, Canadian civilians, equipment, supplies arrived overnight. They had to punch through 1,500 miles of untamed wilderness under unbelievable conditions; harsh climate, frozen ground, crude equipment, mosquitoes. They completed the Alaska Highway in eight months!
YUKON TERRITORY: milepost 610
We left British Columbia and entered Yukon Territory that claims to be “Larger Than Life”. Wood buffalo grazing at the side of the Alaska Highway greeted us. In the mid 1800’s the first white men traveled to the Yukon to trade furs. The First Nations Indians told the men about the gold that could be scooped from the streams. This started the Yukon Gold Rush. The towns we stayed in Yukon were; Watson Lake, Whitehorse, and Dawson City.
WATSON LAKE: milepost 635
Watson Lake is located at milepost 635. Watson Lake’s main attraction is the Sign Post Forest. Carl Lindley, a homesick GI, while working on the Alaska Highway, started it in 1942. He decided to add a sign of his hometown of Danville, Illinois on a post. Now there are over 72,000 signs added by visitors promoting their hometowns.
CONTINENTAL DIVIDE: milepost 725 and TESTIN milepost 804
The name Testin is taken from the Indian name for the lake named Teslintoo (long narrow water). Tlingit Heritage Center milepost 813 showed a movie about the Tlingit (Klink-it) First Nations Indians and their 200 years of history and culture. This tribe has Japanese characteristics, customs, and facial features. It is believed that they came from the same original tribe. There were five outdoor totems carved to represent the Tlingit clans Wolf, Eagle, Frog, Beaver and Raven. Patty bought some red and black rain boots representing the Eagle clan from the Tlingit Heritage Center.
WHITEHORSE: milepost 918
Lying on the west bank of the Yukon River, Whitehorse is Yukon’s capital and is the largest city in the Yukon with the population of 27,690. Yukon Province total population is 37,178.
We took a self-guided tour on the S.S. Klondike sternwheeler boat on the Upper Yukon River. This paddlewheel boat brought mail, food and equipment supplies to the trading posts in Dawson City. The Whitehorse to Dawson City route was 460 miles. S.S. Klondike ran from 1929 to 1955 operating for 4 ½ months a year since the Yukon River froze for 7 ½ months for the remainder of the year.
We had our first halibut dinner in Whitehorse at the Yukon Salmon and Ribs Restaurant, and it was delicious.
Our Adventure Caravan group went to the Frantic Follies 1890’s vaudeville show in the evening. It was a show with can-can girls and music. The skits and comedy were taken from Robert W. Service ballads.
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