The “Oil Can Highway”

Army Jeep on the AlCan

The Alaska Highway was completed on 20 November 1942. Construction was spurred on by the bombing of Pearl Harbor and really shifted into gear when the Japanese occupied Kiska and Attu Islands in the Aleutian Chain.

Caterpillar working the AlCan in 1942

Dubbed the Oil Can Highway, by the men building it, due to the enormous number of discarded 55 gallon oil drums long its route. The AlCan crossed over 200 streams and contained over 8000 culverts. 16,000 men built the 1700 mile road through the wilderness, at a cost of $138,000,000 in 8 months and 11 days.

Photos courtesy of the United States Library of Congress; Statistics come courtesy of The Thousand Mile War by Brian Garfield

About icefogger

Just a basic, down to Earth, laid back type of guy here, who loves the outdoors, the indoors, jazz on the turntable, a fire in the woodstove, the northern lights blazing across the sky, and the company of good friends. View all posts by icefogger

One response to “The “Oil Can Highway”

  • Larry Janicsek

    Interesting info–a great accomplishment. Sadly now days ( even in a wartime situation ) it would take 8 months for the politicians to decide how wide the road should be before starting the construction.

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