Our New Best Friend: “The Milepost”

We have a new constant companion on our journey along the Alaska Highway.  It is a book called The Milepost 2012: Mile-By-Mile Highway Log.  For the past 809 miles of our 1,348-mile driving journey through Canada, the passenger has been reading religiously from this amazing 784-page book, which literally details of every mile of the Alaska Highway.

The Alaska Highway stretching across Canada for as far as the eye can see

The Milepost provides commentary and explanation for every point of interest along the route.  It describes the origin of each river, details on bridge construction, wildlife commonly seen, historic events in the building of the Alaska Highway, and interesting tourist stops.  It also provides logistical information, such as cautions for reduced speed around curves, wildlife crossings, pullouts, services, lodges, and RV campgrounds.  The Milepost is updated annually to ensure the entries are accurate.

There are detailed entries and sometimes more than one entry within a given mile of highway.  For example, today was a very short travel day of only 62 miles between two provincial parks where we camped and hiked: Stone Mountain at Mile 374 to Muncho Lake at Mile 436.  The Milepost had 43 entries for those 62 miles! 

Here are a few entries to give a flavor of why we enjoy reading this book as we drive along the Alaska Highway.

 

Charlie Lake Memorial

Mile 51.3: NWHS sign commemorates Charlie Lake, Mile 0 Army Tote Site.  Site of major distribution camp for workers and supplies heading north.  The Alaska Highway monument on Charlie Lake memorializes 12 Americans soldiers who drowned May 14, 1942, when their pontoon boat sank while crossing the lake.  The soldiers, part of the 3341st Engineers and the 74th Light Pontoon, were working on construction of the highway. [The above picture is the Charlie Lake Memorial.]

 

Wild bison on the Alaska Highway

Mile 400.7: Racing River Bridge, clearance 17 feet, posted speed limit 50 Kmph on bridge. CAUTION: Bridge deck is metal grate. Slow for curve at east end of bridge. Turn out with dumpster to north at east end of bridge. The Racing River forms the boundary between the Sentinel Range and the Stone Range, both of which are composed of folded and sedimentary rock. Note the open south-facing slopes on the north side of the river that are used as winter range by stone sheep, elk and deer. Periodic controlled burns encourage the growth of forage grasses and shrubs and also allow chinook winds to clear snow from grazing grounds in winter. CAUTION: Watch for bison on highway. Fishing allows grayling to 16 inches; Dolly Varden to 2 lbs., use flies, July through September. [The above picture was taken out our RV window as we drove at about this mile marker.]

 

Theresa with Darby and Shadow at Strawberry Flats Campground

Mile 437.7: Strawberry Flats Campground, Mucho Lake Provincial Park; 15 sites on rocky lake shore, picnic tables, outhouses, garbage containers. Camping fee $16. Old Alaskan Highway Trail nearby. CAUTION: Bears in the area. [The above picture is at Strawberry Flats Campground on Munch Lake.]

 

The historic marker for Summit Pass

The interpretive panel that describes Summit Pass, the highest point on the Alaska Highway

Mile 392: Summit Pass (elev. 4,230 feet); double-ended gravel turnout to north (across from campground entrance) with sign and interpretive panel.  This is the highest summit on the Alaska Highway; there may be ice on the lake  into June. A very beautiful area of bare rocky peaks (which can be snow-covered any time of the year). [The above 2 pictures are of the historical mile marker and interpretive panel at Summit Pass.]

 

The Signpost Forest

Mile 612.9: The Watson Lake Signpost Forest, seen at the north end of town at the junction of the Alaska and Robert Campbell highways, was started by Carl K. Linley (1919-2002) of Danville, IL., a U.S. Army soldier in Company D, 341st Engineers.  Linley was a homesick soldier working on the construction of the Alaska Highway in 1942. Travelers are still adding signs to the collection which numbers more than 72,000 signs. Visitors are encourage to add a sign to the Signpost Forest. [The above picture is but a small section of the Signpost Forest.]

 

The Teslin River Bridge

Mile 808.6: Teslin River Bridge is the third longest water span on the Alaska Highway (1,770 feet).  It was constructed with a very high clearance above the river to permit steamers of the British Yukon Navigation Co. to pass under it en route from Whitehorse to Teslin.  River steamers ceased operation on the Teslin River in 1942.  Before the construction of the Alaska Highway, all freight and supplies for Teslin traveled this water route from Whitehorse. The Teslin River is wide and show, adequate camping sites on numerous sand bars. Abundant wildlife – muskrat, porcupine, mouse, eagles, and wolves – also bugs and rain. Excellent grayling fishing from sprint to late fall, 10 to 15 inches, use spinner or red-and-white spoons for spinning or black gnat for fly fishing. King salmon in August. [The above picture is of the Teslin Bridge as we crossed over it.]

What a wealth of information! The Milepost describes safe driving information, geological details, forest management activities, wildlife viewing, even fishing regulations, campground specifics, historic commentary and tourist attractions.

The official Mile 0 milepost in Dawson Creek, marking the start of the Alaska Highway

The Milepost is dramatically enhancing our adventure traveling the Alaskan Highway.  The journey seems faster, as we are entertained and educated by the detailed descriptions of beautiful and historic Canada.  I would highly recommend anyone travelling the Alaska Highway to purchase the current Milepost book. [The above picture is of the official start of the Alaska Highway, Milepost 0.]

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