Dawson Creek to Fort St. John, BC ~ 46 miles
Jul 5, 2007
|THURSDAY, JULY 5 - DAY 3 - TRAVEL DAY
DAWSON CREEK TO FT. NELSON, B.C. - 280 miles
CAMPGROUND DESTINATION TONIGHT: FT. NELSON RV PARK
Directions -- 5 miles south of city limits. On Alaska Highway at Milepost 277.9 on the right.
Milepost guide page 138
Travel day. We roll today! Our destination tonight is Fort Nelson and the Ft. Nelson 5th Wheel RV Park, along the beautiful Alcan Highway. This will be a long day, but well worth the effort. Fort Nelson is a community that offers travelers every comfort and amenity, including accommodations, restaurants and a variety of recreational facilities.
At Milepost DC 144.7 (F 1343.3), you might want to stop and take a picture of the "Suicide Hill" sign. It commemorates one of the most treacherous hills on the original highway noted for its ominous greeting: "Prepare to meet thy maker." Beatton River Bridge. The Beatton River flows east and then south into the Peace River system.
Watch for wildlife, especially at Milepost DC 200. You may see some moose!
Named after Admiral Nelson, the town of Fort Nelson was once just a distant fur trading post. The area is still well known for its hunting. Game includes moose, caribou, grizzlies and black bears. Fort Nelson has a population of approximately 3,804 people and covers 5,500 square miles.
Winters are cold with short days. Summers are hot and the days are long. In mid-June (summer solstice), twilight continues throughout the night. Fort Nelson's average annual precipitation is 16.3 inches with an average number of 116 frost-free days. The last frost occurs about May 11 and the first frost is about September 21.
Fort Nelson aboriginal people are mostly Slave (slay-vee), who arrived here about 1775 from the Great Slave Lake area and speak an Athabascan dialect. Fort Nelson was first established by the NorthWest Fur Trading Co. A second Fort Nelson was later located south of the first fort but was destroyed by fire in 1813 after Indians massacred its eight residents. A third Fort Nelson was established in 1865 on the Nelson River's West Bank but was destroyed by a flood in 1890. A fourth Fort Nelson was established on higher ground upstream and across the river, which is now known, as Old Fort Nelson. The present town is the fifth site.
Morning arrived very early. Socks woke Ann about 5 AM to be let out. She was kind enough to let me sleep in to 6 AM.
We ate breakfast and prepared the coach for travel. We pulled out of the Dawson Creek RV Park and headed into town to top of our fuel tank for the 280 mile drive today. We were able to save a little at the local Safeway service station. Diesel is going for 0.999/liter.
After fueling up, we headed "north to Alaska!" There is only 1 highway so I can't get lost.
About 20 miles north of Dawson Creek, we took a scenic detour to drive over the only surviving wooden bridge of the original highway. In fact, we drove on the original highway for about 20 miles, with the bridge 5 miles from the start point of the detour. The road after the bridge led back to the current highway.
As we drove along, we saw historic mileage markers on the side of the road. They are no longer accurate because they are straightening out the highway and shortening it in the process. The road was well paved with only a few sections "rough." We also had a delay due to chip sealing about 10 miles of roadway. The dust was nasty.
We dropped down into the Peace Valley, crossed a long bridge with steel grate "paving" (so the snow falls through and doesn't build up on it) and continued on to Fort St John's.
Fort St. John's is an industrial town supporting the local gas refineries. Its downtown was along the highway and consisted of about 4 traffic signals. There were the usual fast food chain drive-ins and grocery stores. All along the route, we saw surplus dormitories for oil/gas field workers in lots and set up at various places along the highway. They appear to be manufactured buildings about the size of a single wide trailer.