Monday, March 7, 2011

Alaska Highway: Connections Made Through Hardships

This week in 1942, the construction of the Alaska Highway project began after being spurred on by the attack on Pearl Harbor. The U.S. foresaw a need to be able to better protect the most North-Western border of the United States and the highway would tie the contiguous United States to Alaska through Canada to better defend and resupply the “Alaska Skyway,” a series of airfields along the Alaskan coast.

Also known as the Alcan Highway, over 11,000 soldiers with 7,500 civilians were assigned the job of building the 1,600-mile stretch of road and cost over $138,000,000 to complete. The construction was one of America’s greatest engineering feats of the era and completion was not an easy task because of the fluctuating temperatures, weather, and unfriendly terrain.

On September 24, 1942 two regiments, working from both the north and south, finally met at Contact Creek near the British Columbia-Yukon Territory border and the Alaska Highway was formally completed in less than a month later.

In 1943, the road was developed into a standard highway, but use was restricted because of wartime travel restrictions that lasted until 1948 and was not fully paved until 1960. Driving the Alaska Highway today gives the modern adventurers plenty of moments for photographing wildlife and the scenic countryside and has made it much easier to make the connection with Alaska.

Today, connecting people across vast expanses has become much easier with technological advancements in the office and classrooms. Now connecting over thousands of miles is as easy as picking up a phone or connecting with a computer. The Spectrum Industries Inc. line of American made furniture includes distance learning systems and mobile video conferencing furniture that can make the distances seem even closer. But when you get a chance to get away from the office or coursework, traveling the Alcan Highway could be that break you always needed.
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