Modern Marvels

Alcan Highway

Season 10, Ep 5, Aired 2/11/03
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  • Episode Description
  • In the world of road making, THE ALCAN HIGHWAY is a feat worthy of comparison to the legendary byways of ancient Rome. Stretching 1,500 miles from British Columbia to Fairbanks, Alaska, the Alcan traverses incredibly difficult and hostile territory, crossing the Canadian Rockies, raging rivers and dense forest. Remarkably, it was built in just eight months. MODERN MARVELS® ventures back to the uncertain days of World War II to tell the story of the Alcan's construction. Fearing a Japanese invasion of Alaska, the military brass decreed that a better connection between the remote territory and the lower 48 states was essential, and the Alcan was the solution. Through the recollections of workmen and extensive photos and footage taken all along the route, THE ALCAN HIGHWAY documents how 11,000 soldiers--nearly 4,000 of them black--bulldozed their way into engineering history.moreless

  • Cast & Crew
  • Max Raphael

    Narrator

  • La Monte Westmoreland

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  • Trivia & Quotes
  • Quotes (1)

    • Narrator: 1500 miles, 11,000 soldiers, nearly 4,000 of them black, charged by a fateful time with a meaningful military role. Their task? Build a highway through some of the most imposing landscapes on Earth. Now: The Alcan Highway, on Modern Marvels.

    Notes (1)

    • Commentators: Dan Del Villiano Director of Communications, Pacific Region Public Works, Canada Wilfred Grondine 341st Regiment Chester Russell 34th Regiment William E. Griggs 97th Regiment Nehemiah Atkinson 97th Regiment Terrence Cole Professor of History, University of Alaska, Fairbanks Ken Spotswood Freelance Writer Dr. Lael Morgan Publisher, Cascade Bay Weekly Glenn Ireland Dawson Creek Resident Billy Connor Research Manager, Alaska Department of Transportation

    Trivia (4)

    • The $7.2 million the U.S. paid Russia for the Alaska Territory represents roughly two cents per acre.

    • Soldiers nicknamed the Alcan Highway the “Oilcan Highway” due to the hundreds of oil and diesel cans abandoned along the road during construction.

    • In roughly eight months, 133 major bridges and more than 8,000 culverts were built for the Alcan Highway.

    • The Signpost Forest at Watson Lake now includes more than 40,000 signs.

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