Greg's 2007 Odyssey travel blog

Bridge under repair - 1 loaded semi at a time can cross

Bison along the side of the highway

Muncho Lake with the Rocky Mountains in the background

Our first black bear sighting

Bison on the left

Bison on the right

The famous "sign forest" at Watson Lake, YT

Another view

One of our group tour leaders mounting our Caraventure sign

Our names on the sign, 2nd from the bottom


SATURDAY, JULY 7 - DAY 5 - TRAVEL DAY

LAIRD HOTSPRINGS TO WATSON LAKE- 140 miles

CAMPGROUND DESTINATION TONIGHT: CAMPGROUND SERVICES LT.

Directions -- South end of town at Milepost 610.5. Right-hand side.

Milepost guide page 155

Travel Day.

Signpost Forest

Our stop today is Camp-Ground Services Ltd., located just 1 1/2 miles south of Watson Lake at mile 632.5 on the Alaska Highway. They have a grocery store, Laundromat, showers and a fully equipped Husky Station. Our group will receive a special Husky gasoline discount.

Today is a rather short driving day - only 140 miles. Before heading back on the road take the time to enjoy a delicious Cinnamon Bun on us.

Following today's route will take you through the community of Fireside, which was partially destroyed by fire in the summer of 1982. Evidence of the fire can be seen from south of Fireside north to Lower Post. The 1982 burn, known as the Eg. fire, was the second largest fire in British Columbia history. It destroyed more than 400,000 acres.

At Historic Mile 588, you'll come upon Contact Creek. Army engineers, working from north and south, met at this point of the Alaska Highway on September 24, 1942. It marked the highway's historic completion.

Watson Lake Points of Interest:

Visitor Reception Center - (867) 536-7469. Operated by Tourism Yukon. Located at the junction of the Alaska Highway #1 and Robert Campbell Highway #4. The center provides a look at the fascinating history surrounding the construction of the Alaska Highway. A three-projector audio-visual brings to life the hardships and adventure that characterized this mammoth road building effort. Open daily.

Greenway's Greens Golf Course - Mile 641.9 Alaska Highway - (867) 536-2477. Nine-hole, par 35, grass greens golf course located just outside Watson Lake. Pro-shop, club rentals, electric carts and driving range. Senior citizen discount. No tee time required. Open daily 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

YUKON

Quick Facts:

Capital: Whitehorse

Population: 29,960 (2002)

Area: 483,450 sq km (4.9% of Canada)

Highest point: Mount Logan (5951 m)

History:

The Yukon Territory takes its name from the Loucheux (Gwitchin) Indian Name Yu-Kun-ah for the "great river". Lying in the northwest corner of Canada's continental mainland, isolated by rugged mountains, it shares a common border and many characteristics with its American neighbor, Alaska. Historically, it is indelibly associated with the great Klondike Gold Rush.

The first lasting contact between the Yukon Indians and the Europeans was made in the 1840s by fur traders of the Hudson Bay Company, using maps and information from early explorers such as Sir John Franklin, who reached the Yukon's Arctic shore in 1825. Traders in the interior and whalers on the north coast were followed by missionaries and the North-West Mounted Police in communities such as Fort Selkirk and Herschel Island.

By the late 19th century, gold prospectors in growing numbers pushed northwards from British Columbia or moved inland from the Bering Sea, following up the Yukon River from its mouth by stern-wheeler. Several centers of gold mining developed, often for only a brief period. George Carmack's discovery of gold on Bonanza Creek, a tributary of the Klondike River, on August 17, 1896, however, marked the beginning of what is often considered the world's greatest gold rush. Thousands of newcomers poured into this hitherto remote corner of Canada, most arriving by way of Skagway and the upper Yukon River. Dawson came into existence to server the influx, at the junction of the Klondike and Yukon rivers. In one month, in 1898, it grew into the largest Canadian city west of Winnipeg, developing a complete range of services including water, sewerage, electricity, and telephones. At its peak, the population has been estimated at 40,000.

The Yukon was made into a separate territory with Dawson named its capital. A well-integrated transportation system was established through much of the territory. Between 1897 and 1904, it is estimated that over $100 million in gold was recovered from the creek gravels. The population of Dawson began to decline almost immediately. By 1906 the most easily worked placer mines were finished, leaving claims to be minded by large companies using expensive dredges.

Beginning in 1913, the Yukon's economy shifted from gold to other minerals when its first hard rock mine stated silver and lead production at Keno Hill in the central Yukon. High fur prices made trapping an important seasonal activity in the 1930s for native people and prospectors, in the absence of any other industry.

The WWII construction of the Alaska Highway and the Canol pipeline expedited a new mineral exploration activity as well as bringing people, services, industries and tourists to the Yukon. With the highway came a permanent non-native population that outnumbered Yukon's indigenous peoples for the first time. Yukon's capital was transferred from Dawson to Whitehorse in 1953.

Yukon Indians now comprise approximately 25% of he population of the territory. In 1987, 4716 resided in 13 bands. Although there were six small Indian reserves in the Yukon, only a few are occupied and the Indian Act reserve system has never been highly developed. Since 1973, Yukon Indians have been negotiating a comprehensive land-claim settlement.

***

I did not get off to a good start this morning. I was doing a pre-trip inspection and discovered that I had left my fuel tank filler cap at the last place I had filled up. Plus, it had rained several times last night.

To make matters worse, when we left the RV Park, I got turned around and headed south, instead of north, on the highway. It wasn't until I saw a closed service station that looked just like the one we saw yesterday on the way to Liard that it hit me that I was going in the wrong direction. So we went a little farther, turned around and beat tracks to catch up to our group, which was about 1.5 hours ahead of us.

We arrived a little later than we should have but got parked and settled before we all went a couple miles up the road to the Watson Lake "sign forest." All members of the group had signed the placard in Dawson Creek. The tour director and tail gunner mounted the sign in the "forest." Check out the names, second from the bottom.

We saw a brief movie on the making of the Alaska Highway in an on-site theater for us tourists.

Upon return to the RV Park, we held our daily group briefing for tomorrow's run to Teslin. Our last activity was to go to the on-site store and pick up a few items. Socks threw up his breakfast hot dog and his lunch hot dog. We picked up a can of dog food to see if he will keep it down. I'm not sure whether the brand of hot dogs was the problem or he just had a nervous stomach because he knew we were going to travel today. It's been about 30 minutes on the can food. So far so good.



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