MacBride Museum WWII Alcan Highway

Building the Alcan Highway

This month has two anniversaries for the Alcan (Alaska Canada) Highway. On November 3, 1942, construction crews building the Alaska Highway from the north and south met at “break through,” 20 miles east of the Alaska boundary. On November 22, 1942, the Alcan Highway was dedicated near Lake Kluane. So this is a good time to commemorate this achievement of engineering and perseverance.

As you might guess from the dates, the Alcan Highway was built during World War II to create a safe passage from Alaska through parts of Canada to the Lower 48 states. The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers and a civilian group called the PRA split up the construction duties and built 1500 miles of road in only eight months. African-American soldiers did much of the work in primitive conditions, including engineering feats like building the Sikanni Chief River Bridge in three and a half days. Their accomplishments were a big factor in the integration of Black soldiers into the U. S. Army a few years later.

There are several great resources to learn more about the construction. PBS’ American Experience film Building the Alaska Highway is a good place to start:

In the fall of 2014, my husband and I traveled down the highway from Alaska to Dawson Creek, British Columbia. I did a lot of historical research and snapped a bunch of pictures. Here are a few shots from that trip.

Watson Lake Signposts
Watson Lake signposts
Sikanni Chief River Bridge remains
Sikanni Chief River Bridge remains
Kiskatinaw Bridge
Kiskatinaw Bridge
Dawson Creek Alaska Highway museum
Dawson Creek Alaska Highway museum

Top photo from WWII exhibit in the MacBride Museum, Whitehorse

I love to share my passion for Alaska and its history in my writing for young adults and their grown ups.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.