Timeline and Map
The following timeline shows the steps taken between conception of the idea of the highway and the opening of the highway to the public.
Take a virtual journey on the map, and check out selected points of interest.
Explore some of the Alaska Highway's exciting history.
December 7, 1941
Japanese forces bomb Pearl Harbor. The U.S. fears a west coast attack or an Alaskan invasion. An emergency supply and military route is considered.
February 6, 1942
The Chief of Staff of the US Army announces the plan to build a military highway to Alaska. Officially called the “Alaska Military Highway” the road became known as ALCAN, short for the “Alaska – Canada Military Highway”.
February 11, 1942
President Franklin Roosevelt orders the construction of the Highway.
March 2–9, 1942
The first American troops arrive at Dawson Creek, British Columbia—Mile 0—to begin construction, and the city is bombarded with soldiers, engineers, supplies, and equipment.
May 17, 1942
Twelve men drown when their makeshift ferry is overcome in a sudden storm on Charlie Lake in British Columbia. A local trapper saved five men in a small rowboat.
June 1, 1942
After two months of work in harsh conditions, the Army Corps of Engineers has completed only 95 miles of the Highway.
June 4, 1942
The Japanese bomb the Dutch Harbor on Attu, and then invade the Aleutian island of Kiska. Fear of Japanese aggression escalates - fast construction is placed as a high priority.
June 30, 1942
The Army Corps of Engineers speeds its progress in the month of June, building 265 miles of the Highway in only one month.
An additional 400 miles are finished.
September 24, 1942
The 35th and 340th Engineers connect at Contact Creek, by the Yukon and British Columbia border. This completes the southern sector of the Highway.
October 25, 1942
At 4 pm, the 18th Engineers and 97th Engineers link-up the northern section of the Highway. This officially closes the last gap of the road.
November 20, 1942
The Highway officially opens, a formal ceremony is held at Soldier’s Summit—Milepost 1061—8 months and 12 days after construction began. The first military truck convoy runs from Whitehorse to Fairbanks, Alaska.
July 19, 1943
The name of the Highway is changed from the “Alaska Military Highway” to the "Alaska Highway."
April 1, 1946
After the war, the US Army passes control of the Canadian portion of the Highway to the Canadian Army. The Canadian government repays the US for the cost of constructing the Canadian portions of the Highway.
The Alaska Highway is opened to tourist traffic on a limited basis, with checkpoints and convoys used to ensure safe travel along the still dangerous road.