Reader's Guide to Alaska Highway
by
http://206. 12.203.90/nlc/~kathy/alashwy.html
Collected 10/16/98



For those who live in the Peace region the 'Alaska Highway" has since construction in 1942-43, has been only 'Highway' that mattered. In relating the construction of the Alaska Highway also known as the Alcan Highway and The Road to Tokyo, students of history should be aware that the communities of Dawson Creek and Fort St. John are but two of the communities along a stretch of over 1500 miles. Unfortunately much of what has been written on the highway moves quickly through the communities heading north to areas that were maybe rougher and more colourful.

From the original construction days of the highway there was an effort to record this momentous event. The military documented and photographed each stage, the civilians working on the road had the money to add their collection of photos to the pile. Several works were published in the mid 1940's, G. Baskine Hitch-Hiking the Alaska Highway (Tor. MacM, 1946) offers a female journalist view of the construction camps. Over the years as the highway changed and the memories grew, stories of the men who spent most of their lives working on the highway emerged. One of the better ones is D.A. Remley Crooked Road QW. McG, 1976) a collection of many peoples tales of how the highway changed their lives.

Starting with the fortieth anniversary of the building of the highway in 1982, to the fiftieth anniversary in 1992, the collection of material on the building of the highway has multiplied. An American author S. Cohen has published five works on the war effort of the American military in northeastern British Columbia, the Yukon, and Alaska, The Forgotten War Vol I-Ill (Miss. PicHis, 1981-92) containing detailed information on the highway's role in the endeavour. The fourth book is a collection of photographs Alcan and Canol (Miss. PicHis, 1992) and The Trail of 42 (Miss. PicHis, 1979) providing the reader with a vivid look at the working conditions. To obtain a more Canadian look at the highway the works of K. Coates North To Alaska! (Tor. M&S, 1992) and K. Coates and W. R. Morrison The Alaska Highway in World War II (Tor. U of T, 1992) offer accurate accounts of the events leading up to and including the construction of the highway. These authors offers interpretations to what influenced the choice of routes, the political issues and the economic realities, with an insight into events that had a major impact on the area from the perspective of fifty years later.

BOOKS

Baskine, Gertrude.
Hitch-Hiking the Alaska Highway.
Toronto: MacMillan, 1946.317 p.

Written by a female journalist, the first woman to receive a military permit to travel the Alaska Military Highway while it was being constructed. Graphic descriptions of Dawson Creek and Fort St. John as they were in 1942, from a very personal and female viewpoint. (Introduction)

Christy, Jim.
Rough Road to the North: Travels Along the Alaska Highway.
Toronto: Doubleday, 1980.197 p. illus.

The author has lived and worked on the highway first called the 'Alcan' or the 'Road to Toyko'. He tells of the highway and the land that it passes through, bringing the world, unknown riches and an end to a way of life. A brief history from the early trading posts to the army and then the highway of the seventies. (Ch. I)

Coates, Ken.
North to Alaska!
Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1992.304 p. illus.

The author introduces the subject with 'the Alaska Highway stands alone among the famous routes, trails and early wagon roads that played such a historic role in the expansion and development of the continent.' From the building of the highway to the modem highway, a mute testament to American resolve and Canadian co-operation, a link between the past and present. Great pictures, easy to read, accurate account of events. (p 9 Introduction)

Coates, Kenneth. ed.
The Alaska Highway: Papers of the 40th Anniversary Symposium.
Vancouver: University of BC, 1985. xvii, 208 p. illus. maps.

A collection of essays that had been presented at the 40th anniversary conference on the building of the highway. The presenters were an interdisciplinary and international gathering of scholars from the Canadian and American north. The conference reflected on the issues, personalities, and effects of the building of the highway. Construction of the Alaska Highway was dependent upon Southern priorities, not northern realities. (Introduction)

Coates, K. S. and W. R. Morrison.
The Alaska Highway in World War II: The U.S. Army of Occupation in Canada's Northwest.
Toronto: University of Toronto, 1992. xv, 309 p. illus.

A description of the 'friendly invasion' made into the Peace River country in 1942 by the US Military and the construction companies needed to build the highway. The project is covered from all angles, including the whys and hows, to the impact on the environment, natives, social and sexual relations, law enforcement, and race relations. An insight into the events that had a major impact on the area from the perspective of fifty years later (Table of contents and Introduction)

Coe, Douglas.
Road to Alaska: The Story of the Alaska Highway.
New York: Julian Messner, 1943.175 p. drawings.

A story of a great road and of the men who built it. Simply written in the style of the time. (p. 13)

Cohen, Stan.
The Forgotten War: Volume I
Missoula, Montana: Pictorical Histories, 1981. x, 253~p. illus.

In this book, chapter 2 dealt with the Northwest Staging Route, pictured is the Fort St. John airport. Chapter 3 is the building of the highway with a write-up. [ed syn]

Cohen, Stan.
The Forgotten War: Volume II
Missoula, Montana: Pictorial Histories, 1988. x, 254 p. illus.

Part of a four book series on the war from the viewpoint of the West Coast of British Columbia to the Alaskan Islands. A background into why the Alaska Highway was considered so important to the Americans and Canadians. A view of how the Peace River area fit into the scheme of things. (Introduction p.5)

Cohen, Stan.
The Forgotten War: Volume III.
Missoula, Montana: Pictorial Histories, 1992. viii, 256 p. illus.

In this volume, Chapter 4 deals with "Communities at War". This is a pictorial look at the communities, including Ft. St. John, Dawson Creek, and Pouce Coupe. (p 69)

Cohen, Stan.
Alcan and Canol: A Pictorial History of Two Great World War II Construction Projects.
Missoula, Montana: Pictorial Histories, 1992. viii, 262 p. illus.

Photo history of the projects, a few first person accounts to give the reader a more personal view of the historic events. Many pictures found in other sources, but some quite unique. (Introduction p. v)

Cohen, Stan.
The Trail of 42 : A Pictorial History of the Alaska Highway.
Missoula, Montana: Pictorial Histories, 1979. iii, 102 p. illus, maps.

A collection of photographs were selected from various archives in the United States and Canada to show not only the road construction, but something of the way the soldiers and constructions men lived. (iii, Introduction)

Dusenberg, H. Milton.
Alaska Highway Expeditionary Force : A Roadbuilder's Story.
Clear Lake, Iowa: H.M. Industries, 1994.196 p. illus.

A tale compiled from the letters written home by road contractors, the diaries they kept, the verses they wrote and the photographs they took. This material along with oral histories obtained from personal interviews is the basis for the book. (p 2 Introduction)

Gingrich, Earl.
Eastern Passage to the Alaska Highway.
Winterburn AB: R.B.W. Inc, 1981. 754 p. illus.

This is a biography of a man who worked on a civilian construction crew, building of the highway. A very personal perspective of the living and working conditions starting at Mile 0.

Godsell, Philip H.
The Romance of the Alaska Highway.
Toronto: Ryerson Press, 1944. xv, 235 p. illus.

A story with a strong American flavour, Simon Fraser was a 'brawny American fur-trade-explorer, from New York State. Peter Pond was from Milford, Connecticut. Canada's Northwest, seems always to have beckoned to the adventurous spirit of Americans, and American settlers help to open the country for settlement. (ix, Foreword)

Griffith, Cyril
Trucking the Tote Road to Alaska: I942-3 Memories of the Early Days of the Alaska Highway.
Naicam, Saskatchewan: Cyril Griffith, 1989.22 p. illus.

A booklet of a trucker's memories of the year he spent working on the Alaska Highway. A look at the highway from the viewpoint of an American civilian truck driven The daily problems of food, housing and traveling the highway. (p. 1)

Griffith, Harold.
Alaska and the Canadian Northwest: Our New Frontier.
New York: W.W. Norton, 1944.221 p. illus.

A story written when the highway was new, and the area was rapidly changing, transforming the north. Chapter Five : Peace River - It Can Feed Millions. A look at the area as it was seen then and the expectations for the future. (p 8 Foreword)

Illingworth, Frank.
Highway to the North.
London: Ernest Been, 1955. xvi, 290 p. illus.

A record of two journeys into the north. Author made notes to record his travels, of what he saw and took verbatim notes of what men said. Also recorded his reactions to the thoughts and sights and sounds of the North. The part on the Peace River is Chapter three "Mile Zero and North". Interesting due to the time it was written. [ed syn]

Keddell, Georgina Murray
Peace Lovin' Folks: Stories of Alaska Highway Pioneers.
Merritt, BC: Margie Graham Publishing, 1992. ii 290 p. illus.

Personal stories that first appeared as a series of articles in the Alaska Highway News between 1961 - 1972. True stories of adventure, hardship, of personal tragedy and triumph. (p1)

Larson, Norman Leonard. comp.
Radio Waves Across Canada and up the Alaska Highway.
Lethbridge: Lethbridge Historical Society, 1992. iii, 69 p. illus.

"Our stories herein are a compilation of reminiscences of some of those who manned these remote locations, and of their work with the Canadian Department of Transport through the intervening years."

A collection of stories written by the men who served as radio operators, with a list of the duties and responsibilities of radio operators (p 22). Photos and information not found in other sources. (iii Foreword)

Matheson, Shirlee Smith.
Flying the Frontiers: A Half-Million Hours of Aviation Adventure.
Saskatoon: Fifth House, 1994. x, 213 p. illus.

All of the people in this book have had some experience in the North - whether flying, servicing, designing, or jumping out of airplanes. The stories are told firsthand by those who lived them. A number of the people in this book were pioneers in every sense of the word. (ix, Preface)

Marrift, Hope.
Land of the Fireweed : A Young Woman's Story of Alaska Highway Construction Days.
Edmonds, Wash.: Alaska Northwest Pub, 1985. iv, 191 p. illus.

A journalist personal account of working on the highway post WWII -an account of the coming of age of a young woman in a unique time and place. (Jacket)

Miduski, Theodore A.
Company A 648th Engineer Topographic Battalion
Pinsburgh: 648th Memorial Fund, 1992.66 p. illus.

Written by and about the men of Company A, they were assigned the section of the highway from Ft St John to Lower Post. (p 314)

Rainey, Froelich.
Alaskan Highway: An Engineering Epic.
National Geographic Magazine February 1943:143-168.

An article with photos of the building of the highway. "Mosquitoes, mud and muskeg minor obstacles of 1,671 miles, race to throw the Alcan lifeline through thick forests and uninhabited Wilderness." Interesting article with a very 'American' flavour. [ed syn]

Remley, David A.
Crooked Road : The Story of the Alaska Highway.
New York: McGraw-Hill, 1976. x, 253 p.

A book of many memories. The people who lived here before the highway and the truckers, soldiers, tourists, and migrants to both east and west. Oflen the people tell their stories in their own voices- Preserving their language, their phrasing and their images, all of which express the fabric, the texture , of their thoughts and feelings. (vii, Preface)

Schmidt John.
This was no %y*nii Picnic : 2.3 Years of Wild and Woolly Mayhem in Dawson Creek.
Hanna, AB: Gorman and Gorman, 1991.355 p.

This short, irreverent and hilarious docu-drama of a war on Canadian soil. There are some contradictions and repetitions as each person interviewed had a different perception. (Introduction P8)

Schreiner, John.
Highway to Alaska.
Canadian Geographic March-April 92: 80-88.

An article written to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the building of the highway. Much of the information from a trucker Orval Couch, who worked on the highway for 34 years. [ed syn]

St-Jean, Daniel.
"...and Where Will You Build this 'Alcan Highway'?"
Whitehorse, Black Horse, 1992.104 p. illus.

'A collection of letters from a homesick 0.1.' A humourous look at how a GI might have felt building the highway. Far from home, living in rough conditions, with many hazards and difficulties. Illustrated with comical drawings to compliment the subject of the letters. (cover)

Twichell, Heath
Northwest Epic : The Building of the Alaska Highway.
New York: St Martin's Press, 1992. xiv, 368 p. illus.

A story about 1,500 miles of gravel road, in terms of human effort, resourcefulness and gritty endurance, they were awesome achievements. A story about people: about individual explorers, adventurers, aviators, soldiers, and construction workers; citizens of the United States and Canada - white, blacks and native Americans. Strong American flavour. (xiii, Introduction).

Wonders, William C.
Alaska Highway Explorers : Place Names Along the Adventure Road.
Victoria: Horsdal & Schubart, 1994. xv, 78 p. illus.

The booklet is divided into three sections, with section one on British Columbia. The material is presented starting at Dawson Creek and moving up the highway. Places named along the way serve as reminders of that earlier era for the curious passer-by. Short histories of each place with ideas of why the places are so named. (ix, Acknowledgements)

VIDEOS

The Trail of 42
Stan Cohen, Pictorial Histories, Missoula Montana. 60 mm. VHS 1989.

Traces the history of the highway using contemporary footage, the original U.S. Army Signal Corns movie, rare original footage, interviews and still photos. Not useful for research. (Cover)

The Alaska Highway 1942 - 1992
Public Station, Anchorage, Alaska. 58 mm. VHS 1992.

This video narrated by Hoyt Axton, traces the Alcan's construction and history with archival film and photos. Ride on a 1939 motorcycle trip on one of the proposed high routes, attend the opening ceremonies at Soldier's Summit in November 1942, and take a contemporary trip on today's highway fifty years after its completion. (Cover)

ADDITIONAL MATERIALS
Compiled by Neal Gosman
Saint Paul, Minnesota, 1999

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"A lost page in history"
Fort St. John, BC: Sterling Newspapers Ltd, Rendezvous ['92] Road Reporter, April 1992. Page 4.
"This newsletter ... will keep you posted on new developments; historical information and interviews with pioneers."

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"Alcan Epic",
Yank, The Army Weekly, February 10, 1943.

Bartels, Fay, ed.
"Rendezvous '92, Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Alaska Highway",
Bothell, WA: The Milepost, 44th Edition, Spring '92-Spring '93. Pages 6-7 and throughout.

"The bible of North Country travel since 1949; Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Alaska Highway."

Carter, Debbie
"Twichell brings the story of Alaska Highway to life," Fairbanks, AK: Daily News-Miner, July 19, 1992.

A review of Heath Twichell's book Northwest Epic, The Building of the Alaska Highway.

Davignon, Ellen
The Cinnamon Mine, Memories of an Alaska Highway Childhood
Whitehorse, YK: Studio North Ltd. 1988.

"Writing from Johnson's Crossing Lodge on the Alaska Highway, Ellen recalls the thrill of discovering a "cinnamon mine" on the banks of the Teslin River, remembers the fights and fun of growing up and lovingly recounts the good times and the hard times of constructing and operating one of the first tourist lodges on the highway."

Griffith, Gary
"Alaska Highway commemorative",
Linn's Stamp News, April 27, 1992. Page 13.

Introducing the US Postal Service commemorative stamp issued in 1992.

Hallifax, Jackie (AP)
"Black Alaska Highway workers honored,"
The Miami [FL] Herald, Monday, January 20, 1992. Page 3B.

"Black soldiers' contribution were cut out of history."

Hallifax, Jackie (AP)
"Black vets celebrate highway's anniversary,"
The Tampa [FL] Tribune, Monday, January 20, 1992. Page Metro 3.

"Soldiers helped construct Alaska Highway."

Jaffee, Corporal Joshua
"Pioneer Exchange, Super Service on The Frontier",
Army Exchange Reporter, June 1943. Baltimore: The Army Publishing Co., Pages 7-8, 39.

"Corp. Jaffee's [341st Engineer Regiment] story of the Alcan PX's."

Jaffee, Zara
"A sentimental journey north on the Alaska Highway,"
Fort Lauderdale (FL) Sun-Sentinel, Sunday, February 16, 1992. Page 1J.

Corporal Jaffee's return to the ALCAN 50 years later, as reported by his wife.

Krakauer, Jon
"Ice, mosquitoes and muskeg -- building the road to Alaska", Washington, DC: Smithsonian Magazine, July 1992. Pages 101-111.
"Drivers used to complain that the Alaska Highway was tough on cars. They had no idea how tough it was on the men who made it."

Lindo, Tresha
"Troops re-unite for highway's 50th anniversary," Tallahassee, FL: Florida A&M University, The Famuan, Vol. 75, No. 2, January 23, 1992. Page 1.
"Troops re-unite to share memories of their days working on the Alcan Highway in Alaska."

McAllister, Bill
"Stamp marks Alaska Highway's 50th anniversary",
Washington, DC: The Washington Post. June 1992
Introducing the US Postal Service commemorative stamp issued in 1992.

McCarthy, Guy
"'Fifty Years Is A Long Time'", Tallahassee Democrat, Sunday, January 19, 1992. Page 1D.

"Finally a group of black engineers will be recognized for building the Alaska Highway. The group's reunion begins today."

McClintock, Michael
"'Northwest Epic' -- the highway to ...", Iowa City, IA: The Daily Iowan, Tuesday, July 21, 1992. Page 4.

A review of Heath Twichell's book Northwest Epic, The Building of the Alaska Highway.

Menzie, Don
The Alaska Highway, A Saga of the North,
Edmonton, Alberta: Stuart Douglas. 1943

"This little booklet is dedicated to the men who built the Alaska Highway. 40 pages. Illustrated.

Morgan, Lael
Department of Journalism and Broadcasting, University of Alaska Fairbanks and The University of Alaska Museum,
"Miles and Miles, Honoring Black Veterans Who Built the Alcan Highway",
Fairbanks, AK. 1992.

Exhibit and Program Guide.

Olsenius, Richard
"Alaska Highway, Wilderness Escape Route,"
Washington, DC: National Geographic, Vol. 180, No. 5, November 1991. Pages 68-99.

Rendezvous '92 Reunion Centre
Fort St. John--North Peace Museum, Alaska Highway Rendezvous '92 Reunion Member Registry, Dawson Creek, BC: Dawson Creek Tourist Information Bureau. 1993. 45 pages.

"Dedicated to Alaska Highway workers, residents and their families who returned in 1992 to help celebrate the 50th anniversary."

Smith, E. Valerie
"The Black Corps of Engineers and the Construction of the Alaska (ALCAN) Highway."
Negro History Bulletin 51, No. 1 (December 1993): 22-38

Woodward, Caroline
Alaska Highway Two-Step,
Winlaw, BC: Polestar Press Ltd. 1993

"Travel with Mercy Brown and her dog Sadie as they embark on a writing assignment up the Alaska Highway. An exciting and intriguing travel-mystery story, enhanced by [the author's] sharp wit and unerring ability to create warm, believable characters."