The Alaska Highway: The Last Great Roadtrip


An overturned truck during the construction of the Alaska Highway. Photo courtesy of University of Alaska Anchorage's Consortium Library. Workers descended on to the Canadian Northwest on a scale not experienced since the Klondike Gold Rush. From April 1942 to May 1943, the United States sent over 11,000 troops to work on highway construction, followed by an even larger and more diverse group of civilian contractors. 11,000 pieces of heavy construction equipment came with the Us Army, populating the region with metal machines and man-power.

The work was hard and the conditions often brutal. The cold and the intense hours and pace of the work were inhuman. Lack of sleep took its toll with wrecked vehicles strewn by the roadside. Warmer weather brought more misery. Rivers flooded, trucks were trapped in mud, and Alaskan mosquitoes were so thick men claimed they swallowed them in mouthfuls.

Next: African Americans' Role in the Construction and History

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