Saturday we started our tourist day with a visit to the Visitors' Center in town. One of the places in the area we were told about was a bridge located in a provincial park on a short span of the original road.
The Alcan, or the Alaskan Highway as it is now known, was built in 1942 as a way to transport military equipment, troops, and supplies to Alaska, in defense of the territory from Japan.
The Kiskatinaw River Bridge is last wooden bridge still in use. Located in a provincial park of the same name, it is on a short span of the original highway.
We learned that the engineers who built the road and bridges were fresh and inexperienced. This bridge, being so close to Dawson Creek, was probably one of the first they worked on.
It is still quite sound and can carry trucks and RVs up to 20 tons. We did not drive it, choosing to come out to look at it in the Jeep.
On our recent drives, we have seem many roadsides and fallow fields covered with masses of yellow wild flowers. But we have been passing so fast that I have not been able to identify what kind of flowers they were.
On our way back to Dawson Creek from the bridge I asked Craig to pull over so I could get a picture of this fantastic field. The clouds were also very dramatic all day.
Much to my surprise, all those yellow flowers were dandelions! It made me smile when I thought of all the urban property owners that spend thousands of dollars and many hours over their lifetimes trying to eradicate this "weed" from their lawns. Location, location, location. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. A weed is a plant that is growing where it is not wanted.
On the edge of town we passed a large lumber mill. We have seen hundreds of log trucks (no I am not exaggerating, hundreds) on the roads in the last month. Not only in Canada, but down in Oregon and Washington as well. The lumber business seems to be thriving. And seeing the vast forest lands, there doesn't seem to be a shortage of trees, and we have seen active replanting of areas that have been logged out.
Next to and behind the mill was a mountain of logs. I had to stop and try to get a picture, but even this does not seem to convey the actual size of this pile! Note: the smoke stacks of the mill are NOT in the distance. They are part of the building behind the pile of logs.
Behind the mound of newer logs was a much larger collection of logs that showed the graying of age. I'm sure they will still be milled. In the picture above you cannot really see the end of the pile. It was big! But we were able to drive up a dirt road that bordered it.
Behind all the wood was a large newly turned field. As you can see from this picture, the land here is quite flat with just gently rolling hills in the distance. Dawson Creek is almost in Alberta!
After going to see the bridge, we returned to town and went to the small Alaska Highway House which displays items and information about the building of the road. We enjoyed the hour-long documentary movie. I will think about the building of the road and the men who worked so hard on it, as we drive north to Alaska in the upcoming days.
Dawson Creek was turned upside down by the building of the Alaskan Highway. First, by the influx of all the military construction equipment and men, and then over the years by the road itself. But it has remained a modest town.
Above are pictures of tourist attractions in Dawson Creek. A rusted steel sculpture of a Corp of Engineers surveyor is the centerpiece of the round about that is at the start of the Highway. He points to the ALASKA HIGHWAY sign across the way, and the Mile 0 marker that sits in a quiet intersection a block or so away. There is a reenactment Pioneer Village near by that we did not go to, but there are no water parks or wax museums in town!
Walking around Dawson Creek and looking at the many small store fronts, felt more like a 70s town than a 2017 city. It was not busy, but it was not dying either. Dairy Queen, McDonalds, and KFC are all there, but so are many independent "Mom and Pop" eateries. The stores actually sell things like tires, appliances and hardware, and the main street has not been taken over by antiques and tee-shirts.
I don't know if the above paragraphs say anything about Dawson Creek as a place or not. It is just my two day impression.
[From Craig] We ate lunch at Brown's Socialhouse, which is highly recommended on Yelp and Trip Advisor. For me it lived up to the recommendation. I had a Prosciutto Benedict that was one of the best breakfast-like meals I've ever had!