Arctic & Northern Military History and Issues
With the start of what we know know as The Cold War in 1947, the importance of military bases in Alaska was reaffirmed. These bases use an enormous amount of fuel of all types, and supplying it has always been a problem. The short-lived Canol pipeline supplied some fuel during World War II. From 1955 to 1973, an 8-inch diameter pipeline transported fuel from a deep-water port at Haines to Fort Greely, Eielson Air Force Base, and Ladd Air Force Base.
Designing the Haines-Fairbanks Pipeline began in 1950 as the Korean War began, and construction of the 626-mile line took 22 months from 1953 to 1955. Once complete, it was operated by the U.S. Army to supply the Army and Air Force bases with diesel, automotive gas, aviation gas, and jet fuel - the vast majority of the fuel was jet fuel (JP4).
Originally, 5 pump stations pressured fuel through the pipeline: Haines, Border, Junction, Donjek and Tok. In 1961, 6 booster stations were added to increase the output: Blanchard River, Destruction Bay, Beaver Creek, Lakeview, Sears Creek and Timber. With the 11 pump stations operating, the pipeline could deliver 27,500 barrels of fuel a day.
In 1970, it was decided that the metal in the pipeline had deteriorated, particularly on the southern half of the system, and repair costs were prohibitive. The Haines-Tok section of the line was shut down in 1971, and the Tok-Fairbanks section in 1973.
When the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began large-scale construction projects across Alaska to bolster the defense infrastructure in 1947, supplying fuel became critical. Although the Air Force used most of the fuel, fuel distribution and supply logistics were Army functions. A pipeline was identified as the best fuel transportation method, as it had during World War II. It was estimated to be cheaper than using the Alaska Railroad, which was shipping most of the military fuel at the time, at ten cents per gallon. Pipeline delivery was expected to cost two cents per gallon. From a security perspective, pipeline was a smaller, less vulnerable target than the highly visible railroad.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was in charge of the pipeline construction. In 1950, Fluor Corporation of Los Angeles won the bid to design the project, which was also known as the Alaska Canada Gas Oil Pipeline or ALCANGO.
Photos of the Junction Pump Station
Photos of the Donjek Pump Station
The Haines-Fairbanks Pipeline by Kristy Hollinger, April 2003 (pdf, 6.3 MB)
A Million Gallons of Jet Fuel Dumped in the Yukon
An article in The Whitehorse Star of May 10, 1956, descibes fuel dumped during repairs on the Haines-to-Fairbanks pipeline.