Continuing our travels through the Canadian Rockies
we arrive at Dawson Creek, British Columbia. So far, this has been our longest drive pulling the Sphinx, 328 miles in just under 8 hours.
Dawson Creek derives its name from the creek of the same name that runs through the community. The creek was named after George Mercer Dawson by a member of his land survey team when they passed through the area in August 1879. George Mercer Dawson was born August 1, 1849 in Pictou, Nova Scotia and was a Canadian geologist and surveyor, who gained notoriety for mapping western Canada. Dawson Creek was incorporated on May 28 1921.
Dawson Creek is most noted as the starting point of the Alaska Highway.
The Alaska Highway, also known as The Alaska-Canadian Highway, or ALCAN, was constructed as an American military road during World War II for the purpose of connecting the contiguous United States to Alaska. It begins at the junction of several Canadian highways in Dawson Creek, British Columbia, and runs to Delta Junction, Alaska, about 1700 miles. The start of construction took place on March 9, 1942 and was completed 8 months later on October 28, 1942. Since The Alaska Highway was built for American military purposes, the distance markers are in miles and not kilometers.
Over the last 76 years, the ALCAN had been modified and improved. In Canada, each community in which the ALCAN passes is responsible for maintenance, and most have modified the original road to reroute and straightened out numerous sections to make the road more convenient for modern travel. This has resulted in the shortening of the overall length of the road by about 300 miles.
One of the last vestiges of the original road is at Milepost 21, just outside of Dawson Creek. A bridge was needed to cross the Kiskatinaw River. Kiskatinaw is Cree for “river with steep banks”.
Of 133 bridges, the Kiskatinaw Bridge is the last wooden bridge left from the original construction of the ALCAN. This three-span timber truss bridge has an amazing nine-degree curve – a curve that engineers designed to accommodate the highway’s steep change in grade on the west end, and the need to land at a notch in the cliff on the east end. At the time, it was the first wooden curved bridge to be built in Canada.
The Kiskatinaw Bridge was bypassed in 1978 as it could not support modern trucking.
Barbara thinks the surveyors may have made a mistake.
Food for Thought:
Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada to Dawson Creek, British Columbia, Canada: 328.5 miles