ROUGH ROAD TO THE NORTH: The Travels Along the Alaska Highway by Jim Christy

ROUGH ROAD TO THE NORTH: The Travels Along the Alaska Highway

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Although Jim Christy's tour runs along the Alcan Highway instead of the Alaska Pipeline, his descriptions of crusty curmudgeons and ""heartbreakingly beautiful"" scenery could come out of all those Pipeline books. The opening historical material is interesting: talk of a road began during the 1890s gold rush and was revived in the 1920s, but action came only after the 1942 Japanese attack on a U.S. base in the Aleutians when FDR ""shocked"" Canadians by refusing to promise that Japan would never attack Alaska. Canada suddenly wanted the highway and the U.S. Army built it, with some 10,000 American and Canadian construction workers. (Canada insisted that its citizens be paid less than Americans so as not to be spoiled by ""inflated wages."") Next comes geography--Christy's 1500-mile trip up the Alcan from ""Godforsaken"" Dawson's Creek. On the way, we meet (among others) Jesse, in his mid-eighties, who bakes mud-covered grouse on an open fire and teaches prospecting. We spot the first Yukon marker at Mile 588; visit the town of North Pole which is decorated for Christmas all year; and wind up in Fairbanks, home of the world's busiest McDonald's. On the return trip, Christy takes us along the Top of the World Highway to Dawson City which once hosted writers Jack London, Hamlin Garland, and Robert Service; does some bush flying; and meets more colorful characters. Yet another Arctic roundabout.

Pub Date: March 21st, 1980
Publisher: Doubleday