An Explorer's Guide to Dawson Creek
Dawson Creek was a quiet farming community of about 600 people until March 9, 1942, when a train arrived on the Northern Alberta Railways line, carrying the first American soldiers assigned to build a military road to Alaska. Within weeks, the Dawson Creek area would have a rotating population of about 10,000 as people arrived and left for points further north.
The 1,523-mile-long Alaska Highway was officially opened on November 20, 1942, but until February 1948, special travel permits were required to drive it. The photos of the Dawson Creek area below were shot on September 21 and 22, 1948, by a couple that we only know as "Sarge" and Lorrie. They lived in central Missouri, drove to Alaska early in 1948, and spent the summer exploring the territory. A few years ago, I bought 160 slides, mostly Kodachrome, covering the section of their return trip from Anchorage to Edmonton. Other slides from the trip went to a collector in Germany, and although I expect that there was much more to the collection, I don't know anything about it.
Part 1: Driving Alaska's Glenn Highway in 1948 (22 photos)
Part 2: Driving the Alaska Highway in 1948 (38 photos)
As the couple neared Dawson Creek in the evening of September 21st, they encountered heavy rain, but the skies were clearing as the sun went down.
Looking west on 102nd Avenue past the famous "Alaska Highway Mile 0" monument on September 22nd. On the left is Lawrence Meat Market, a company which moved from Rolla to Dawson Creek in 1941.
The Dew Drop Inn on the right in this view looking south would later become the Alaska Hotel. It was destroyed in a fire in September 2012.
Hartman's Home Furnishings, The Bank of Toronto, and the New Palace Hotel & Cafe are among the businesses shown. On February 1, 1955, the Bank of Toronto and The Dominion Bank became the Toronto-Dominion Bank.
Starting out of Dawson Creek, they got a hint of what the roads ahead could be like.
The caption on this slide is "Slippery when wet". The roads between Dawson Creek and Edmonton were notoriously bad at that time, and later on September 22nd, Sarge and Lorrie were stuck in deep ruts in the middle of the road, and had to be pulled out by a tractor.
The story continues at:
Part 4: Driving from Dawson Creek to Edmonton in 1948 (12 photos)