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Alaska Highway

The Alaska Highway is the first road ever built to connect the United States, Canada, and Alaska. At first it was called the "Canadian-Alaskan Military Highway," and later it was called the "Alcan" highway, before it came to be known as the Alaska Highway. It starts at Dawson Creek, British Columbia, a town about 500 miles north of the Urited States border, and it ends in Fairbanks.

The Alaska Highway is the first road ever built to connect the United States, Canada, and Alaska. At first it was called the "Canadian-Alaskan Military Highway," and later it was called the "Alcan" highway, before it came to be known as the Alaska Highway. It starts at Dawson Creek, British Columbia, a town about 500 miles north of the Urited States border, and it ends in Fairbanks, Alaska, a distance of 1,527 miles. It is so long that if it started in Florida, it would end in Kansas, halfway across the United States.

The highway was built in 1942, during World War II, so that the American soldiers in Alaska could be supplied with food, clothing, and ammunition, by land. United States ships going to Alaska were in too much danger of being sunk by enemy submarines and airplanes. Seven regiments of United States Army Engineers, and more than 6,000 civilians, built the road in six months. That is very fast time, because it usually takes over two years to build such a road. They built a bridge across the Peace River, in British Columbia, down which the Cree and Beaver Indians used to paddle freight canoes full of precious furs to the Hudson's Bay Company trading post. The bridge is 2,130 feet long. In Whitehorse, the capital of the Yukon Territory, there is a memorial to Robert W. Service, the famous poet who wrote about the Klondike Gold Rush days of the 1890s.

This was wild country before the highway came through. It was forest wilderness, where the only people were Indians and a few trappers. Now there are gasoline filling stations, garages, restaurants, and motels (hotels where cars can be parked just outside the door) all along the way, while Fairbanks and Whitehorse are modern cities with big stores, churches, and movies. The Alaska Highway is kept open all year, but travelers should carry blankets or sleeping robes if they drive over it in the very cold weather. Then if the car breaks down they can stay warm until help arrives.

Most of the traffic is during the warm season, when tourists, vacationers, campers and sportsmen travel the highway by hundreds. In the spring and early summer there are large swarms of mosquitoes and other stinging insects, and travelers need protection against their bites, such as head-nets and mosquito bars. (These are nets that allow air to come through, but keep the insects out.) There are many kinds of wild animals in the woods along the highway—deer, moose, caribou, black bear, grizzly bear, and many small animals. The lakes and streams are full of such fish as grayling, trout, pike, and pickerel, while ducks, geese, ptarmigan, and other birds abound. The animals will not bother those who leave them alone. Since the Alaska Highway came to the NorthwestComputer Technology Articles, travel and business have increased so much that it is like a new world.


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