A week before the trek began, we calculated the travel time from San Jose, California to Fairbanks, Alaska. The distance was less than three thousand miles, but information about the roads and highways confirmed they weren’t the normal interstate.
On July 1 we arrived in Dawson Creek, British Columbia (BC) to start the big drive up the Alaska Highway, also known as the ALCAN, the Alaska-Canadian Highway. Relentless road reconstruction and modifications in the early years changed Milepost 0 several times. Dawson Creek was currently noted as the ‘true’ starting point of the ALCAN.
The ALCAN was originally constructed as a military highway to connect Alaska with the contiguous lower 48 states. Road repairs were a constant occurrence in rerouting, straightening, and changing sections, sometimes done by Canada and other times the United States. The extreme cold weather often caused gaping holes or major road lakes, which made it difficult to drive through or around.
The ALCAN looped through Canada’s British Columbia and Yukon territories, as well as Alaska. Signposts were in kilometers and miles. The accuracy of the miles or kilometers weren’t always current with constant repairs, detours, and changes. Although we started on pavement in Dawson Creek, it often changed.
Despite improvements the ALCAN was famous for a rough and challenging drive with many legendary stories. Rocks cracked our windshield three times; the first one at Milepost #230, followed by two more at Milepost #269, and that was day one of a typical four-day ALCAN journey. Despite ‘being prepared’ another part of day one was a flat tire at Milepost #269! All of this happened while traveling at the break neck speed of twenty-five to forty-five miles an hour.
Must Have Travel-to-Alaska Resource – The MILEPOST was first published in 1949 and is an indispensable resource for traveling to Alaska. It is still considered the Bible of the North Country because it provides a mile-by-mile guidance for Alaska Highway travelers. It is annually updated to be current with changes, improvements, and information to make a beautiful, sometimes difficult, but magnificent trip enjoyable. In 1972 it cost $2.95 for a copy, but now the cost is $39.95 and worth every penny. Buy it here https://themilepost.com/