Day 8: June 23, 2016
Mile 0

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Wow! I'm actually close enough to Alaska it's showing up on signs. Only 1237 miles to the border. 940 if I could fly. I passed through this intersection yesterday on the way to my motel so now I really am approaching from the north. Yeah, it started out divided four-lane but that didn't last long.

Yes, Roadside America did alert me to this but I guessing that I might have spotted a fifteen foot tall beaver at roadside all by myself.

As I reached Dawson Creek, I went straight to the standard trip-launch photo-op spot. One couple was walking away from the "You are entering..." sign when I got there and another looked to be ready to. I pulled up next to the sign. The couple who were about to leave, had just had their picture taken by the couple I had seen leaving and they offered to do the same for me. I accepted and in almost no time I had the must-take photos out of the way and could move on to breakfast. Thanks Kind Strangers.

I picked Le's Family Restaurant for breakfast based on some TripAdvisor reviews and I wasn't disappointed. I ordered the first thing on the menu not because it was the restaurant's name sake omelet but because it sounded really good: bacon, sausage, green peppers, and mushrooms.

Following breakfast, I returned to the site of the earlier picture taking and it was immediately obvious that I had done a good thing in grabbing the earlier opportunity. Things now looked like this. I checked out the Visitor Centre in the old train station to the left and the art gallery in the old elevator to the right. The Visitor Centre includes a museum which is part natural and part human history.

The exact spot where surveyors began marking the highway in 1942 was here between the the train station and the grain elevator. The first Mile 0 stake was near where the rock cairn and arch stand today. When that simple marker was destroyed by a drunk driver in 1946, a more elaborate one was erected in the center of town at the intersection of 10 Street and 102 Avenue. The cairn was built in the late 1950s to mark the original or "true" Mile 0 location. A triangle with a perimeter well under a kilometer encloses all three spots.

The building beyond the downtown Mile 0 marker is the Alaska Highway House. Inside are some interesting displays and offers viewings of an excellent PBS documentary hind on building the highway. One of many things I learned or relearned from the documentary was that the war time threat to Alaska was hardly imaginary. At one point Japanese forces occupied two of the most western Aleutian Islands. Constructing the 1500 mile road in nine months under horrible conditions was an incredible accomplishment and was quite a moral booster at a time when other victories were scarce.

Large murals provide a pretty good Dawson Creek history lesson. A walking tour guide available at the Visitor Centre contains descriptions.

I'm off on the Alaska Highway with the biggest Distance to Turn number I've ever seen. Alternative routes just do not exist.

The old road can still be driven through Kiskatinaw Provincial Park and over the only remaining Alaskan Highway wooden bridge. Survival of the Kiskatinaw Bridge has been aided by the construction of a nearby concrete bridge in 1978 to handle heavier loads. The 162.5 metre bridge was completed in 1943 and is sloped and curved. Lincoln Highway fans will no doubt see similarities between this bridge and the concrete curved and sloped bridge built in Donner Pass just nineteen years earlier.

The day's only actual stop for construction occurred on the approach to the Peace River Bridge. The bridge itself was not involved.

My last stop was at the Taylor Information Centre. Of course, the highway is now marked in kilometers and has been smoothed out and shortened from its original length but the original measurements are still significant and various businesses and points of interest are identified by them. For the fiftieth anniversary in 1992, British Columbia erected markers like this one at Taylor. Yep, there's one for Mile 0.

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