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Driving Alaska's Glenn Highway in 1948





 in 1948    The photos below were shot in late September 1948 by a couple that we only know as "Sarge" and Lorrie. They lived in central Missouri, drove to Alaska early in 1948, and spent the summer exploring the territory. These photos were shot on Kodachrome slides film during their drive home - 160 slides covering their trip from Anchorage to Edmonton, are in the ExploreNorth collection.

    The photo on the right shows their well-equipped car, a 1941 Pontiac that they called "Gussie", on the Alaska Highway. One of our readers suggested that Gussie may have previously been a police car, as Pontiacs often were in that era, as she's equipped with two side spot lights, one for each of the officers in the car as was common in that era.

    As was necessary in those days, Sarge and Lorrie camped or stayed in one of the few lodges that were available. The brochure, "Alaska and the Alaska Highway", published by the American Automobile Association in the Spring of 1950, will give some idea of the conditions they were faced with.

    I've posted a total of 79 photos from this collection. Captions on the slides are very basic, and I've added information based on my knowledge of the roads. If you notice any errors (or omissions) in the information, please contact me. Several readers contacted me within a few days of the photos being posted - such help in keeping ExploreNorth accurate is greatly appreciated.

    Many of the photos were taken at locations which I have also taken photos at, and I'll be adding some "before-and-after" combinations when time permits.




 in 1948
The long drive home to Missouri began in the evening of September 12, 1948. This is the Glenn Highway as it passed through Fort Richardson (it now goes around the base), close to where the "S" curve is now by the weight stations. Mt. Baldy is to the left of the shadow in the centre, and the mountain to the far right is Hiland Mountain.


 in 1948
A few minutes later, about where the Army now has its small-arms Firing Range, a short ways before the Glenn Highway dropped down into the Eagle River gorge to the old original Eagle River bridge. The background is the far side of the Eagle River valley. The peak with the very-flat-surfaced pyramid slope divides Meadow Creek from Little Peters Creek , and the closer, foreground ridge (at the right of the photo) climbs up, out of the photo, to the 1960s location of the "Site Summit" NIKE missile site on Mount Gordon Lyon.

The last photo from this day was a sunset shot at Thunderbird Creek, where Sarge and Lorrie apparently spent the night.


 in 1948
The view to the south from near Mile 65, near the Sutton/Jonesville Coal Mine, showing the Chugach Mountains and Matanuska River, on September 13, 1948.


 in 1948
Captioned "View at CAA Station (Mile 106), looking east". The CAA (Civil Aeronautics Administration) was in charge of weather stations at that time.


 in 1948
The view at about Mile 118, near the Knob Lakes and the location now of an Alascom microwave tower.


 in 1948
Mounts Sanford, Drum, Wrangell, and Blackburn, all permanently covered in snow and ice, are seen for many miles as the Glenn Highway and Tok Cutoff run through the Copper River valley. The peaks are 16,237 feet (4,949 meters), 12,010 feet (3,661 meters), 14,163 feet (4,317 meters), and 16,390 feet (4,996 meters) high respectively. Mount Wrangell is the only volcano in the Wrangell Mountains that is currently active.


 in 1948
The view near Tahneta Pass - the mountain behind the tree to the right is Gunsight Mountain.


 in 1948
A roadhouse, with Mounts Sanford, Drum, and Wrangell behind.


 in 1948
free-ranging horses


 in 1948
Mount Drum


 in 1948
Mt. Sanford, and Mt. Drum to the right.


 in 1948
Northbound on the very long bridge over the braided, multi-channel, glacial Chistochina River. Note that it only allows for traffic in one direction, but ahead on the right is a pull-out in case you meet another vehicle.


 in 1948
The first photo from September 14, 1948, is this "Alaskan bridge".


 in 1948
North of Glennallen on the "Tok Road", now known as the Tok Cutoff.


 in 1948


 in 1948
"First snow on foothills" as seen from the Tok Cutoff.


 in 1948
"Tok Road vs swampland".


 in 1948
"Trapper cabin & food cache".


 in 1948
"Emergency air strip".


 in 1948
"Road near Tok Junction".


 in 1948
"Twisting, turning Tok Road".




The story continues at:

Part 2: Driving the Alaska Highway in 1948 (38 photos)

Part 3: Dawson Creek in 1948 (7 photos)

Part 4: Driving from Dawson Creek to Edmonton in 1948 (12 photos)