Posts Tagged ‘Construction’

Relocating to the Alaska Community of Eagle River

November 19th, 2022

Description.

Presently, Eagle River, according to the 2000 census, has a population of 22,236 and continues to grow. The community is within the Municipality of Anchorage and was named for the Eagle River that extends between the Chugach State Park and the Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. Anchorage and Eagle River are two cities divided by the Chugach mountain range and the 7,000-acre military base.

Transportation.

Since 1978 the Glenn Highway between our city and Anchorage has grown from a two-lane highway to the present six lanes that are now divided and well-lighted. Most of the residents are employed in Anchorage and travel the Glenn Highway daily. The numerous military personnel who make this community their home also travel the Glenn Highway daily.

The People Mover City Bus provides adequate transportation for many. The bus moves between Anchorage, Eagle River, Chugiak, and Birchwood. In the daytime you can ride the bus to Anchorage and back frequently.

Education.

The fine schools in the area turn out well-rounded, well-educated young people. In recent years there has been a second high school added after the population at Chugiak High School overflowed. The schools have teams for basketball, football, soccer, tennis, wrestling, and hockey and others. Competition between the schools in Anchorage, Eagle River and Chugiak creates some lively, well-attended games. The University of Alaska at Anchorage provides classes in Eagle River, which make it much easier for many to attend.

Shopping

In recent years Fred Meyers and Walmart have provided the community with much-needed shopping without a trip to Anchorage. There are numerous small businesses and new businesses are added each year. There are also several fast foot and full-service restaurants.

Annual Activities.

The Chamber of Commerce hosts the Bear Paw Festival each year. The festivities begin with a parade and the entire business community participates with imaginative floats. The Bear Paw Queen, the Alaska Queen, Anchorage Queen and several others ride with their beautiful dresses in the shiny polished sports cars. The military participates with exhibits and marching soldiers. There are bands and lots of music including bagpipes. There are so many floats and other entries in the parade it is one of the events that are anticipated by many each year. After the Bear Paw Parade, there is a week of festivities including carnival rides, games, demonstrations and the vendors selling their specialties of many handicrafts and foods.

The Alaska Highway – A Road of Wilderness Mystique – From Dawson Creek to Fairbanks

April 22nd, 2022

The black bear interrupts its roadside foraging to glance reproachfully at the intruders. The bus driver has slowed down so that we can gape. His cry alerting the passengers is one we hear often on the Alaska Highway, and not just for bear sighting.

Dall sheep, standing out in brilliant white against rocky mountain slopes. Moose, elk, grizzlies in the distance. A lone wolf slouching across our path. Caribou sighting becomes old hat.

The highway is exploding with life and color and the salmon are running. Once, as our Greyhound bus skirts a river, we see a bald eagle swoop down on the water, talons outstretched. For a brief second it rises with a huge salmon in its vice-like grip. The salmon’s struggle and its sheer weight drags the eagle into the river. Hunter and prey actually become submerged.

As suddenly as it had vanished, the eagle resurfaces, thoroughly doused but grimly hanging on to its catch. Barely able to flap its wings, it fights its way out of the water, never releasing its hold on the salmon.

The driver tells us he had seen similar encounters – but then anything is possible along this road of wilderness mystique. The Alaska Highway’s length alone is daunting – 2,378 kilometers.

It is a picture postcard of spectacular scenery. As the road moves north and west, the landscape changes from sprawling grainfields to a more rugged mountainous land, filled with white-capped rivers, turquoise lakes and ice-blue glaciers. Classic northern forests are full of wildlife and wildflowers.

The land is also a mosaic of people who run lodges, fly bush planes, man gas rigs and drive trucks.

Travelers meet old-timers like Dean (Old Griz) Elston, who teaches “cheechakos” (greenhorns) how to pan for gold at Kluane Wilderness Village in the Yukon.

Old Griz himself is a “sourdough”, the affectionate name giving to old-timers. There is only one way for a cheechako to become a sourdough: watch the river freeze in the fall and stay to see the ice brake into grinding pieces in the spring. Old Griz, one of the bulldozer operators who helped build the Alaska Highway in 1942, has some tall tales to tell.

The road was finished in an astonishing eight months, probably the greatest engineering feat since the building of the Panama Canal. The project was a wartime venture. The highway linked Alaska to the rest of the United States and could have served as a way to move troops if Japan had attacked the territory. It also served as an overland route to supply the chain of gravel airstrips across northern Canada and Alaska that provided emergency landing facilities for the 8,000 warplanes ferried to the Soviet Union.

At the peak of its construction, about 11,000 US soldiers and 7,500 civilians with 11,000 pieces of equipment built the road at a frenetic pace of 13 kilometers a day, sometimes in temperatures of minus 40 degrees Celsius.

It was a hard life. The men had to build 133 bridges and 8,000 culverts. Machinery snapped, ice jams rammed pilings, flash floods ripped out bridges after heavy rainfall or rapid glacial melts, bottomless muskeg swallowed trucks and bulldozers.

Slowly, a rough, rutted track took shape, forging a highway over marshes and bogs, through forests, over five mountains and through river canyons.

The road-builders were plagued by huge mosquitoes and blackflies. A popular story is that they built two airfields at Whitehorse: one for aircraft, the other for mosquitoes. One old-timer swears that on one occasion someone mistook a mosquito for a float plane and tried to refuel it.

The Alaska Highway is still a wilderness road today, but many of the curves have been straightened and the two-lane highway is paved. There is occasional evidence of human habitation – hamlets tucked away among the trees, a cluster of log cabins, a roadside cafe or motel – but for the most part it’s a pretty lonely road.

Every year about 200,000 travel its length. We chose the easy way – we “rode the dog”, and let the Greyhound Bus drivers do the work.

The journey started at Dawson Creek in northern British Columbia, Canada, where the famous Mile Zero sign post is a magnet for tourists. The bus pointed its nose down the long, narrow ribbon of highway and over the first 900 kilometers threaded its way through serene, undulating prairies.

After Fort Nelson came the Rockies. The Highway passes through two provincial parks and through rustic communities like Summit Lake and Toad River. Then it winds through the valley of the Liard River and along an old Indian and fur-trading trail.