Arctic Circle, Alaska

Day 702

     Imagine I transport you from where you are to the Arctic Circle, in Alaska. Open you eyes and describe what you expect to see.

     Bucket list of things to do in Alaska: Travel the Alcan from beginning to end, visit Santa at the North Pole, and go to the Arctic Circle. Today, we accomplish the last of those 3 things.

     The only way to get to the Arctic Circle by road is the Dalton Highway. Only half of Alaska’s 19 highways are paved. This is not one of them.

     I told you about the Alaska Pipeline yesterday. Before the 800-mile pipeline could be built over three mountain ranges and 30-some rivers and streams, a road had to be built to maintain the pipeline plus get workers, heavy equipment and supplies to the North Slope oil fields. They couldn’t be boated in, and it was too dangerous and expensive to fly. They had to be trucked in. The Dalton Highway, named for James W. Dalton, an expert in Arctic engineering who served as a consultant in early oil exploration in northern Alaska, was constructed for that purpose. 

     Traveling that road gave us excellent view of the pipeline.

     Prior to the Dalton highway, there were no roads in this part of Alaska. The highway, which directly parallels the pipeline, is one of the most isolated roads in the United States.

      We drove over the only bridge in the United States that spans the Yukon River. The Yukon River is the third largest river on the continent but one that most Americans never see. I find it hard to believe that no one who lives on the thousands of miles that border the river want to get to the other side.

      I walked down its bank and found the water cloudy and cold to the touch.

     The Yukon River Bridge, officially known as the E. L. Patton Bridge, was named for the President of the Alyeska Pipeline Company, Edward L. Patton. He is the man largely responsible for the building of the Pipeline and Dalton Road. The bridge surface is made of timber, which expands and contracts, without buckling or breaking, as the harsh weather changes. 

     We had excellent views of the pipeline from the bridge

     as well as from the road

     So, what exactly is the Arctic Circle? The Arctic Circle is the most northerly of the five major circles of latitude in which on the summer solstice (June 21) the sun remains above the horizon for 24 hours and during the winter solstice, (December 21) the sun never rises above the horizon. 

     Well, what do you expect it to look like here at the Arctic Circle? How about this:




     What? No snow, ice, or glaciers? No, the temperature today is 56 degrees. Most of Alaska this time of year is green. 

     We pulled up to the official marker for the Arctic Circle, the point at 66.33 degrees latitude. Our bus driver produced a red carpet bisected by a white dotted line to show our ceremonial crossing,

     Coming home, we saw the moose going in the opposite direction (I think they are having a meeting later today).         Now, you don’t see that in Maryland.

6 thoughts on “Arctic Circle, Alaska

  1. Pretty cool pictures. Only time I have ever seen the Dalton was on Ice Road Truckers. Interesting to see it with no snow. Interesting that the bridge deck is wood. Saw it many times on the show but always snow covered.

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