Friday, May 8, 2009

Hope hopes, Chetwynd wins

We traveled yesterday from Prince George to Dawson Creek via Chetwynd, the other "Chainsaw Sculpture Capital of the World". After viewing their displays, I tend to agree.

We decided to refuel in Dawson Creek, figuring the prices would be best there. About ten miles out of DC, we saw a 93.9 sign on a Race Trac station, but went on into town where we got to pay 96.4 instead. I remembered from a previous trip that the Race Trac station had lower prices than those in town.

Dawson Creek is Mile Zero of the Alcan Highway.

After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the U. S. realized that their enemy envisioned gaining control of the Aleutians and the Gulf of Alaska. In order to get men and materiel within fighting range as rapidly as possible, President Roosevelt set in motion a plan to extend the highway from Dawson Creek all the way to the interior of Alaska.

Thus began the construction of the Alaska-Canadian (ALCAN) Highway, one of the greatest engineering feats in history.

The 1523 mile road was begun in February 1942, a scant two months after Pearl Harbor and was expected to take years to build. My grandfather, Leo Jewett, who was a paymaster for the Federal Bureau of Public Roads, was told to move to Whitehorse where he could do his job closer to the workers and contractors.

Much to the chagrin of my Grandmother, my mother and her siblings, they sold their waterfront home out the road in Juneau and moved to an apartment in town to await their travel to Whitehorse once accommodations were obtained.

They spent the spring and summer of 1942 waiting and then they got a call saying that the highway would be completed by October rather than much later. So they didn’t have to move to Whitehorse, but they no longer enjoyed their home of many years and settled in town instead.

After getting an oil change in Dawson Creek, we headed up the Highway, stopping at the Shepherd's Inn for a wonderful dinner. We highly recommend this stop, about 70 miles from DC.

We then drove another 70 miles to a truck stop called Sasquatch Crossing where we spent the night, hooked up to their electricity right in front of the building. Ten dollars for the night. They also had internet, but it didn't work.

Today we are heading to Liard Hot Springs, one of the nicest of its kind, about 350 miles up the highway.

Pictures to follow.

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