Highway Troubles-Is it Worth the Drive? Alcan, Part 2


Building the 1523 miles long Alaska Highway in less than 9 months (see Alcan, Part 1: A U.S. Highway in Canada?) did not come without huge sacrifices.

For one thing, how do you move thousands of soldiers and civilians, as well as more than 11,000 pieces of road-building equipment north in two months? How can you expect perfection from "mechanics" who previously were only watchmakers or from men who had never driven a Cat before? How can the equipment continue to function properly if the people handling it have no idea how to maintain it?

Cold was also a terrible enemy. The extreme temperatures would freeze engine lubricants and make the transmission seize. Special, time consuming precautions had to be made every time a vehicle stopped, as the heavy grease would freeze solid if left to cool off.

Men did not fair better, especially those who came from the sunny, southern states. They had no idea how cold the Yukon could be! When vehicles broke down and no immediate help was available, many of the workers froze to death; and those who pulled off the road for a nap, often never woke up!

Tragedy even struck in large towns. In February 1943, 60,000 cases of dynamite exploded in Dawson Creek, levelling an entire city block. Many were hurt, but miraculously, only 5 died.

In addition, the quickly-constructed bridges were far from being secure. In one day alone, July 11, 1943, forty-five bridges washed out. The bridges, being basically low laying trestles, could not withstand the pressure from the driftwood being carried on floodwaters downriver. We can only hope that nobody was on them at the time!

And this is just a few of the hardships faced by the men. None of these tragedies daunted the construction crew, however. Not even homesickness could stop them in their trek!

Why not?

Because they were fighting to prevent a possible invasion of Alaska from Japan. Military equipment and transportation had to be into place in order to withstand the forces of their enemy. There was no way any of these soldiers or civilians would slack off in their task!

We, too, as Christians, are encouraged not to slack off of our task. We need to persevere in our mission, encouraging one another, daily, if possible: "As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work." (John 9:4 NIV)

The enemy is roaring and will do anything to stop us in our tracks. He knows that he has but little time left. Will we let him free reign without any resistance?

"Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers." (1 Tim 4:16 NIV)

"You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised." (Heb 10:36 NIV)

"But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness." (Heb 3:13 NIV)

"Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings." (1 Peter 5:8-9 NIV)

"He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short." (Rev 12:12 NIV)

"I think it's time for a nap. What do you think?"

"But you'll freeze to death!"

"Who cares!"

Do you care?

Rob Chaffart

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