The Alaska Highway: The Last Great Roadtrip

PROFILE ON WILLIAM E. GRIGGS

One of the African American soldiers. Photo courtesy of Alaska State Library. William E. Griggs was the official photographer of the US Army’s 97th Engineers Battalion. The 97th was an all-Black battalion responsible for the construction of the Alaska Highway north from Slana, Alaska to the Tanana River and south to the Alaska-Canada border. They accomplished this with such efficiency and skill that they actually moved well into the Yukon. Griggs took over 1,000 images of the construction of the Highway, as well as his battalion’s training at Elgin Field, Florida and their journey northwest by rail to Seattle and then north by ship to Valdez, Alaska.

"Of the 10,670 troops assigned to Alaska, 3,695 of them were African-Americans; they were seldom, however, mentioned in US Government press releases."

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