ExploreNorth, your resource center for exploring the circumpolar North

Return to the Home Page The ExploreNorth Blog About ExploreNorth Contact ExploreNorth

Search ExploreNorth

The Alaska Highway: Historic Advertising

Vintage ads from the collection of Murray Lundberg

    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. Here's a sampling of the ads that have appeared over the years.

Click on each ad to greatly enlarge it.

The Army's rolling to Alaska... on the road that "couldn't be built"

Many White trucks were used during the construction of the highway, and the company used that fact in this 1943 ad:

Indomitable men and machines...many of them White trucks...slashed their way through, and in record time. Vital projects of this kind dramatize the wartime importance of motor trucks.

Arctic cold on the Alcan highway doesn't faze
these big Studebaker trucks

Studebaker 6x6 trucks earned a reputation for toughness on the highway. This 1943 ad also notes that Studebaker was building Wright Cyclone engines for Boeing's famed "Flying Fortress."

Alaska HIghway International Trucks ad, 1943
Who Holds Alaska!
"Who holds Alaska, holds the World" ...said the late General Billy Mitchell

This 11x14-inch advertisement appeared originally in 1943. Note the sign on the power shovel behind the International dump truck - it says "See you in Tokio".

"Taming the Wild"

Jacobs Aircraft Engines used this ad to promote not only their engine's worth during wartime, but the importance of aircraft in the post-war world, in opening up the Northwest.

Roll 'er Through to Fairbanks!
Greyhound serves America-at-War along the Alcan Military Highway

As seen in this 1944 ad, Greyhound provided the buses and drivers for the Northwest Service Command, ferrying personnel up and down the highway. For an introduction to the history of bus service on the Alcan, with many more ads, see this page.

Alaska Highway Coke ad, 1944
"Have a Coca-Cola = Going our way?"

"Friendship comes easy to allies devoted to common causes and borders without guns. Have a 'Coke', says the Yank sergeant to the Canadian mountie, and he's talking a lingo of friendship that both understand."

This ad was published in the Daily Press of Newport News, Virginia, on November 17, 1944.

"Dynamite" on the Alcan

Up near the Arctic Circle, on the famous Alcan Highway, Marmon-Harrington All-Wheel-Drive converted Ford trucks "packed dynamite," literally and figuratively, to blast a cut over the heights above the Sikanni River.

In this 10x13-inch ad from 1945, Marmon-Harrington promoted the fact that hundreds of their truck conversions were being used in the upgrading of the Alcan.

"They warned us about the Alaska Highway..."

People who had made the long overland trip to Alaska called it a "hazardous journey" and cautioned us to take along at least two sets of special heavy-duty tires!

But, of course, by using Atlas tires, this family had a wonderful trip with no flats! This 1954 ad is one of the first showing regular family cars using the road.

The fleet that conquered the Alcan Highway

Chevrolet sent a fleet of 1957 trucks, from pickups to 5-tons, up the highway, and used the results of the trip extensively in their advertising program. This 8x10-inch ad appeared in 1957.