Happy All Hallows’ Eve
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The Alaska Highway was completed 72 years ago.
A highway to Alaska was originally proposed in the 1920’s, but it took the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the Japanese threat to the Aleutian Islands and the west coast of North America, to put it on the fast-track.
On February 6, 1942 the U.S. Army approved the Alaska Highway project. On February 11, it was approved by the U.S. Congress and President Roosevelt. Canada agreed to its construction as long as the total cost was bore by the United States and the highway and facilities in Canada reverted to Canadian control after the war. Construction of the highway officially began on March 8.
Nicknamed the “Oil Can Highway” by the workers, due to the number of 55 gallon drums discarded along the route, the 1700 mile road between Dawson Creek, British Columbia and Delta Junction, Alaska, was completed on October 28, 1942.
It is safe to say, that the ALCAN has been under construction ever since.
Photos courtesy of alaskahighwayarchives.ca
“If we wait for the moment when everything, absolutely everything is ready, we shall never begin.”
— Ivan Turgenev
“A map says to you.
Read me carefully, follow me closely, doubt me not…
I am the earth in the palm of your hand.”
— Beryl Markham
We had another cabin shaker this morning sent from the Minto area. Just a 5.1, but these quakes are becoming a bit of a habit.
Deep beneath the muskeg of Minto Flats lies two long faults, that give Fairbanks the majority of the earthquakes we feel. Interestingly, the past three shakers, all at around the 5.0 magnitude level, have come from a previously unmapped fault. The Minto area fault lines come from the pressure placed on the Alaska mainland by the Pacific Plate.
This week, people have been talking about the 6.0 magnitude 1995 earthquake that originated under Minto Flats. Everyone that has mentioned it, said that the shaking was far more violent than the 7.9 Denali Quake, which happened in 2002. I imagine that is because Minto is roughly half the distance to Fairbanks as the epicenter of the Denali Quake.
Without a doubt, the best duck hunting I have ever experienced was out in the boggy quagmire of Minto Flats. Amazing to think of fault lines lying under that vast morass, and fault lines that could easily spring a 7.0 or larger earthquake.
“A trip, a safari, an exploration, is an entity, different from all other journeys. It has personality, temperament, individuality, uniqueness. A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.”
— John Steinbeck … “Travels With Charley”
Interior Alaska had another 5.0 earthquake on Monday. Due to my incredibly full summer, I’m just now getting around to my own needs, so I was hauling and stacking firewood when the tremor passed underneath. I’m proud to say I actually felt this one.
When the shaking stopped, I wheeled over another load of wood to the woodshed, and found that the first row of stacked firewood now had a pronounced bow in the middle of the row. Since I live outside of any city limits, my wood pile is not subject to inspections by the city seismic engineers. I can build any type of woodshed I want, and stack it any way I please, without any governmental interference.
Now some people would claim that the bow in the stacked row of wood after a 5.0 earthquake just goes to show how we need seismic engineers inspecting our woodpiles before some sort of firewood tragedy happens. Of course, those people live in Anchorage, or locales further south.
It may be true that my stack of firewood would not pass the seismic engineers inspection. Each log is not tied to the other with structural ties; they just kind of lie there on top of each other, in a now, somewhat wavy wall of birch & spruce. The way I look at it, the wall may have a bit of a wave to it, but it survived a 5.0 shaker. How many wood burners in Minnesota or Iowa can say that?
So I made an attempt to push the wave back, then put up two more rows of stacked wood to cover, and theoretically support, the wavy row. I go into this new, wood burning season, with full knowledge and understanding, that if we get another 7.9 like the 2002 Denali Quake, I’ll be picking up and re-stacking some firewood.
Living on the edge.