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The History of the Alaska Highway (Alcan)

Alaska Highway & Canol Bibliography
Well over 100 books about these two related projects have been published.

Alaska Highway Chronology
A timeline of significant events during planning, construction, and operation of the highway.

Alaska Highway News
Newspaper articles from the early years of the highway.

Alaska Highway Road Reports
Road reports from years past.

Early Alaska Highway Postcards
The Alaska Highway has been a popular subject for postcards since it was built, and we've posted over 80 of them, mostly from the 1940s.

Suicide Hill
Perhaps the most famous (or infamous) hills on the road to Alaska was only in use for about a year.

Support Grows for Prairie Route for Proposed U.S.-Alaska Road
An article in The Winnipeg Tribune of January 28, 1939 reports on four possible routes for the proposed highway to Alaska.

A highway to Alaska begins, March 1942
Four articles in the Edmonton Journal of March 20, 1942, describe surveyors and equipment moving into position, the reaction of some locals, and continuing arguments about the route chosen.

Sigrid Arne, Alaska Highway reporter 1942
A look at her work, which was published around the world.

U.S. Army Beats the Thaw - Alaska Highway, June 1942
A series of articles by Sigrid Arne, from Page 9 of the Minneapolis Daily Times of Friday, June 12, 1942, about the race to get men and equipment in place before the Spring thaw.

"Alcan: America's Glory Road"
Engineering News-Record ran a three-part series about the Alcan Highway in December 1942 and January 1943, then all 32 pages were published as a booklet (pdf, 8.5 MB).

The Haines road
Construction of a 150-mile road to connect the seaport of Haines with the Alaska Highway began in December 1942 and was completed in November 1943.

Utah Construction Company employee handbook
The company's 1943 handbook/contract for employees on their section of the Alaska-Canada Highway project, which was from the Alaska border to Kluane Lake (pdf, 4 MB).

'Impossible' Alaska Highway Route Found by Air, 1943
An article from The Vancouver Daily Province of Saturday, May 22, 1943.

Construction on the Alaska Highway, July 1943
An article in The Minneapolis Star Journal of July 20, 1943, describes work being done by the Brown & Leguil company north of Fort St. John, BC.

White dump truck ad
A 1943 ad with a painting of a White dump truck during the Alcan highway construction.

Studebaker truck ad, 1943
"Arctic cold on the Alcan highway doesn't faze these big Studebaker trucks"

The Peace River Bridge Opens
A newspaper report from September 3, 1943.

Studebakers on the Alaska Highway, October 1943
An article in The South Bend Tribune of October 8, 1943, describes the Studebaker trucks being built in South Bend in use on the 'Alcan.'

Winter Maintenance Problems on the Alaska Highway
This article from Roads and Bridge magazine of November 1943, written by a Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, describes many of the unique situations encountered.

The Alaska Highway and British Columbia, 1943
An article from The Vancouver Daily Province of Friday, December 31, 1943, talks about the impact of BC's size and grandeur on American soldiers.

Along the Alaska Highway in 1943
One of the first "tourist" articles about the Alaska Highway, published in January 1944 when it was still a restricted military road.

Looking at a permanent Alaska Highway, 1944
An article by Barney Mulvany, from The Vancouver Sun of Saturday, February 5, 1944.

Alaska Highway construction companies leaving Edmonton, 1944
An article in the Edmonton Journal of February 24, 1944, describes the reorganization and reduction of U.S. Army staff and related companies as it relates to Edmonton.

Waste along the Alaska Highway during WWII
This article from the Vancouver Sun of July 8, 1944, talks about the appalling amount of material dumped when highway construction crews left.

Alaska Highway north and Haines road are failures
An article in the Victoria Daily Times of September 21, 1944, reports on comments by a northern old-timer about the failures despite 'a mad orgy of spending.'

What U.S. Soldiers Think of Canada, 1944
In a lengthy article from The Vancouver Daily Province of December 30, 1944, Capt. Richard Neuberger talks about life along the Alaska Highway.

Alaska Military Highway Road Log, 1945
A mile-by-mile guide to the 1,221 miles of the highway in Canada, dated September 1, 1945.

"Souvenir Views of Alaska Highway, Canada"
A 20-page brochure of photos, with a history of the highway. A Domion Series View Book, published ca. 1945 by the Photogelatine Engraving Company (pdf, 2.4 MB).

New Bus Service Opens on Alcan HIghway
A newspaper article from September 27, 1945, describing the British Yukon Navigation Company's new Alaska Highway service.

Tip for tourists: facilities meager on Alcan Road
An article from The Record-Herald (Washington Court House, Ohio) of Saturday, March 30, 1946.

The Alaska Highway and Whitehorse, Yukon, in 1946
This article from the Great Falls Tribune of April 14, 1946, describes the status of, and conditions along, the Alaska Highway and in Whitehorse.

Driving the Alaska Highway in 1948
A series of 4 pages about a drive from Anchorage to Edmonton includes 38 photos on the Alaska Highway page.

Driving the Alaska Highway, 1948
In an article in The Kansas City Times of June 22, 1948, Chicago Tribune reporter Joseph Hearst describes his 4,214-mile drive from Chicago to Fairbanks.

Friendly on Alaska Highway - but Expensive
An article in The Windsor Star of July 15, 1948, written at the 2-year-old Coal River Lodge, describes conditions and prices along the new highway.

Alaska and the Alaska Highway, 1950
A 24-page brochure published by the American Automobile Association in the Spring of 1950.

Buick Conquers Alaska Highway Grades, 1950
An article in the Los Angeles Times of July 23, 1950 describes a family's trip to Fairbanks with a brand-new Buick and a 35-foot-trailer.

Fort Nelson and the Alaska Highway, 1951
This lengthy story, written in 1951 by Mrs. S. E. Warren, tells of her bus trip from Edmonton to Fort Nelson, her life there, and her flight back to Edmonton with CPA.

Hitch-hiking to Alaska in 1952
An article in The Whitehorse Star of September 19, 1952, describes the Alaska hitch-hiking adventure of Fern Woods.

Bert and Helen Law and their Silver Dollar Lodge
A lengthy illstrated article in The American Magazine of September 1952 tells the story of the Law family's life at a lodge they built along the Alaska Highway.

Proposed shortcut highway to Alaska, 1955
A pair of lengthy articles from the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner describe the rebirth of Donald MacDonald's dream for another highway to Alaska, along 'Route A'.

Dick Giroux's Alaska Highway Truck Photos
Nine photos of trucks and the road, shot by Dick in 1955-1956.

New Nisutlin Bay Bridge at Teslin opens
On May 2, 1956, the long-anticipated bridge, the longest on the highway, was officially opened.

Alaska Highway, Canadian Section, 1958
A 20-page brochure published by the Canadian Government Travel Bureau.

Alaska 1958
The best historic travel journal we've seen, with 290 of Hubert Priddy's captioned photos showing the Alaska Highway and much more.

New York to Alaska in the Morris Minor 1000
A 1958 journey of 12,085 miles of not-altogether-trouble-free driving around North America, including driving the Alaska Highway up and back.

Alaska Highway, 1958
Thirty pages of the 168-page 14th Edition of the Northwest Travelguide describe the Alaska Highway, and the loop through Dawson City (pdf, 5.4 MB).

Detroit's 59ers - Alaska or bust!
On March 5, 1959, a group of 21 adventure-bound Detroit families embarked on a 4,500 mile journey up the Alcan Highway to the Alaskan wilderness.

Alaska Highway 1967 Celebrations
This 12-page brochure promoted celebrations of the centennial of Canada's Confederation and the purchase of Alaska, and the 25th anniversary of the highway.

The final paving of the Alaska Highway, 1978
An article in The Province (Vancouver, BC) of July 29, 1978, describes the start of the Shakwak Project, and reactions to it.

Alaska Highway Commemorative Stamps
These stamps were issued in 1992 by the United States Post Office to honor the 50th anniversary of the construction of the "Alcan."

Yukon portion of the Alaska Highway Dedicated to all War Veterans
In the Spring of 2013, signs were installed at each end of the Yukon section of the Alaska Highway, dedicating it to all war veterans.

95th Engineer Regiment - Colored
A brief but very well-illustrated look at the part played in the construction by 3,695 black troops.

388th Engineer Batallion
This excellent site commemorates the members of the 388th, who worked on the Canol Project in 1942-43.

The military road becomes a civilian road
Larry Evans describes the work of the Canadian Army on the highway from 1946 until 1964.

Alaska Highway: Historic Advertising
In the days before the highway was paved, a trip up the Alcan was often used by manufacturers to prove how tough their product was.

Alaska Highway Historic Mileposts
Although there are few signs of the original Alaska Highway, you can keep track of the highway's history with these markers.

The Alcan
From Neal Gosman, a well-illustrated look at highway, particularly the 95th Engineers' part in building it.

Brigadier General James A. O'Connor
A biographical sketch of the commander of the Northwest Service Command from September 1942 onward.

Colonel Joseph P. Glandon, U.S. Army
First commissioned in the Regular Army in October 1920, Col. Glandon was Commander of the Alaska Highway construction project in 1943-1944.

The Charlie Lake Alaska Highway Memorial
On the morning of May 14, 1942, 12 of the 17 soldiers on a pontoon boat crossing Charlie Lake, just north of Fort St. John, drowned after the boat sank.

Certificate of Merit
This Certificate of Merit was awarded to Seibert D. Eberly, Jr., for his work on the construction of the highway in 1942-1943.

Bus & Motorcoach History: Alaska, the Yukon, & Northern British Columbia
Many of the stories here have an Alaska Highway connection.

Historical Construction Equipment Association
This large site has lots of photos, and information available on the machinery that dredged the goldfields of the North, built the Alaska Highway etc.

This exceptional Russian site tells the story of the lend-lease aircraft that arrived in Russia primarily via ALSIB through the Yukon and Alaska.

The Kee Bird and the Alcan
Throughout the bitter cold during the construction of the Alaska Highway, crews kept their sense of humour, even inventing an appropriate mascot.

Northern Roadhouses - An Introduction
From tents and dugouts to relatively luxurious 2-storey log buildings, roadhouses were a vital part of life for most early prospectors.

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