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Wednesday June 12, 2013- Dawson Creek to Buckinghorse River Lodge BC

We put the cover on the car. This is our first time using it, but we are now starting up the Alaskan Highway.

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We drove out of the park at about 9 AM. This is a busy day for us!

Our first stop was at Mile 21, the Kiskatinaw Bridge. We had to turn off the main highway and take the old Alaskan highway for about 5 km. This is one of the last remaining segments of the original construction of the highway, although it has been paved. This is the longest wood carved bridge in North America!

The Kiskatinaw River presented an early hindrance. The location of the bridge site, which was near a hairpin curve in the river, forced construction of a curved right-of –way. Engineers developed this 190 ft. wooden bridge with a super elevated , ( banked) 9 degree curve to conform with the bend in the highway.  The bridge took 9 months to complete and is the only curved bridge in use in Western Canada. Note the wood planks!

Kiskatinaw Bridge

Kiskatinaw Bridge BC

The pictures do not show how high up from the river that the bridge has been built and is still very sturdy. Not like the next bridge….

We continued on, crossing the bridge and returning to the Alaskan Highway. Our next stop was at Mile 36. We stopped to look at the Peace River Bridge in Taylor.

On October 16, 1957, the massive suspension bridge across the Peace River at Taylor BC collapsed less than a decade and half after it was built.

A truck driver first noticed unusual settlement in the road, so the army immediately closed the bridge. Over the course of the next day, the bridge structure continued to shift. Left without support,, when the shale crumbled, beneath a 25,000 ton anchor block, the north span of the $4,000,000, 2200 ft. Alaska Highway suspension bridge crashed into the Peace River.

No one was injured as 3,000 people watched the 405 ft. section buckle and drop with a tremendous roar, seven hours after the engineers had noted the northern anchor was sinking. The collapse cut off the main highway to Alaska, but traffic, amounting to 200-300 vehicles a day, was quickly re-routed to a small ferry 10 miles downstream.

A portable bailey bridge was erected for immediate use while the Train Bridge was planked for traffic until the new bridge was built and opened in 1960. Needless to say, we crossed the new bridge!

Peace River Bridge, Taylor BC

Here is Bob driving the motor home through Taylor BC.

Bob driving the motor home through Taylor

We continued our journey to Fort St. John BC, Mile 47. We stopped at the Visitor Center and picked up some brochures, before walking about a block to the North Peace Museum. ( $6 each). This museum tells the story of how Fort St. John grew from a trading post to an Energetic City. They try to tell the story of the Northern Peace region for the First Nations settlement to today’s oil and gas industries. We were not terribly impressed!

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Peace Museum

Forts in Fort St. John BC

A trappers cabin

An early fur traders cabin replication. I have Canadian fur traders on both sides of my family so this was kind of interesting. Below is a “fur press”.

A fur press

Antique Dodge convertable

A 1923 Dodge convertible. It was in beautiful shape and still runs!

Blacksmith shop

One interesting tidbit, was that they used to hang the laundry out in the freezing winter. The frost that froze on the clothes helped to get rid of stains and wrinkles. The gals would then bring the clothes back in the house to unfreeze and dry out.

This is a traveling dental office circa 1920-1940.

Traveling dental office

Centenial rug depicting the Canadian Provences

This is a centennial rug, depicting each of the provinces, handmade for the 1967 centennial celebration of the city of Fort St. John.

We returned to the RV’s and left town. Our next stop was Charlie Lake, at  Mile 51. We pulled into the Rotary Park. We ate lunch in the motor home, then walked over to the Charlie Lake Memorial.

Shortly after 8 AM on May 14, 1942, 17 men boarded a pontoon boat which left the 341st. Engineer Regiment landing at the south end of Charlie Lake to deliver equipment, supplies, and personnel to Company E’s bivouac site at the north end of the lake. By 11:15 AM, the boat had reached the middle of the lake, through increasingly rough waters. It was discovered that a plug had come out of the fuel line to one of the motors and the gas was leaking out. The boat was ordered to turn to the shore, when two large waves hit the side and sank the boat. A man named Gustaf Hedin, a homesteader and trapper who had been watching the boat’s progress, arrived quickly to assist at the accident scene. He was able to save 5 of the 9 men who were still floating in the lake. Most of the men could not swim!

Hedin was honored by both the Canadian and US military for his bravery in saving these men, in his little boat. The memorial is facing where the shipwreck occurred, if  you look through the memorial. Both Canadian and US military died that day. Around the outside of the memorial, the round posts ( 12 of them) have the names of the men who perished.

Charlies Lake Memorial

Charles Lake Memorial

Here are the RV’s in the very wet parking lot!

In the parking lot at Charles Lake BC

We continued to have showers off and on all day. I drove after lunch. Here is some of the scenery. Note the dark trees, which have been destroyed by the Pine Beetle. It does not look as bad as Colorado, as in this area they have a lot of different trees in their forest.

Scenery on the Alaskan Highway between Dawson Creek and Ft. Nelson

Scenery on the Alaskan Highway between Dawson Creek and Ft. Nelson

Bob tried to catch Sasquatch.

Bob on the look out for Sasquatch

Wayne and Margie were traveling behind us and said that they saw bears, but it happened so quickly, and after we had passed. They were unable to get picture of them.

We crossed over  Pink Mountain, the highest elevation on the Alaskan Highway. Tomorrow we will reach Ft. Nelson the lowest elevation!  We even drove down Suicide Hill,  named that because so many of the men died there when building the highway. It has since been leveled and straightened, so it was no big deal.

We stopped at one of the truck chain stations, planning to spend the night there, but it was too slanted for us to level out the motor home. So we continued on to Bucking horse River Lodge, where we are staying the night in their parking lot. Free sure beats staying across the road in the Provincial camp ground, where it costs $16 for no services. Just to park overnight!

We went to dinner at the Lodge restaurant. It is a rustic truck stop, but the food was really good and relatively inexpensive. I had a Denver omelet with hash browns and fresh baked bread (toast). Bob and Margie had hamburgers and Wayne had some beef. We were all very happy with our meals. The waitress was very nice.

It was relatively quiet in the parking lot. We watched the movie Blood Diamonds with Leonardo DeCaprio. Okay flick…. we paid $5 for the DVD from the bin at Walmart.

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