Bill & Jim's Alaska Trip

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June 28
Fort Nelson to Tetsa Lake

Block, 4200 hp Bessemer engine

Crank, 4200 hp Bessemer engine

Old Snowmachine

CN SnoCat

Folk Art - Fun with Knots

Culvert from Old Alaska Highway

Acrow (Bailey) Bridge

Fort Nelson River

Northwest Terr. / B. C. Border

N.W.T. License Plate

Construction on Alaska Hwy

Truck after construction zones

Folded Mountain

Thorny Flower

We went to the Fort Nelson museum in the morning where we saw a film about the construction of the Alaska Highway. The highway is nearly 1,500 miles long, but the original pioneer road was built in 1942 by the U.S. Army in only 8 months! Private contractors followed immediately behind, improving it into an all-weather road. Other things at the museum included folk art ('Fun with Tree Knots'), old vehicles and artifacts from the Alaska Highway and early life in Fort Nelson. There was some of the original wooden culvert pipe that had bee in use for 50 years - still in good condition. Also, there were some 4,200 hp V-16 engines made by Bessemer for generating electricity in Fort Nelson.

West of Fort Nelson a way, we set off north on the Liard Highway toward Fort Liard in the Northwest Territories. The First Nations residents of Fort Liard are well-known for their birch bark and porcupine quill craft work. The road is gravel, the B.C. portion begin in poorer condition than the N.W.T. portion. After about 30 miles or so, we heard what sounded like a shot and saw that the rear window of the truck was shattered. Apparently, a rock kicked up by the truck ricocheted off of the front of the trailer and struck the rear window hard enough to shatter it. The rear glass is not laminated, so it all fell out on the ground. We rigged up a tarp to cover the opening and soldiered on. Almost immediately, a huge logging truck passed us going the opposite direction at about 70mph and put a huge 'star' right in the middle of the windscreen with another rock.

Along the way, we crossed the Fort Nelson River on the world's longest Acrow (Bailey) Bridge at some 1,400 feet. This kind of bridge uses many of the same parts, assembled quickly with pins. Eventually, we were able to see the Liard River near the Hamlet of Fort Liard. The river is very wide and fast as it goes past the settlement. We spent a short while there and then set off on the return trip. Along the way, we came upon a bear feeding on the shoulder of the road. He wouldn't stay to pose for a picture, though.

Returning to the Alaska Highway, we encountered a lot of road construction on the mountainous part of the road near Summit. They are completely realigning the road, eliminating many curves via several huge fills cutting off loops in the old road. We camped for the night at the Tetsa Lake campground. They had the most mosquitos that I have ever seen. Even so, we used repellent and our screen shelter to keep them at bay.
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