HARD FACTS

The building of the Alaska Highway was the largest joint project the Canadians and the Americans had ever attempted. A diplomatic note, signed by President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Mackenzie- King, laid down the terms of their agreement. The note stated that the United States would pay the cost of construction and maintenance of the highway for the duration of the war and six months after its end. The Canadians would allow the US right of way during the construction and unrestricted use of Canadian materials, such as logs and gravel.

The US maintained the road until April 1, 1946, at which time the Canadian section of the road was turned over to the Canadian Army Engineers. The airfields and land communication stations were also given to the Royal Canadian Airforce at this time. The Canadian Army Engineers maintained the road until 1965.

REGIMENTS

The original seven American regiments:

"General Geo. R. Pearkes represented Canada's armed forces. In 1914 Pearkes was a constable in the Royal Mounted at Whitehorse. He told me that some of the territory he drove over en route to the ceremony he once patrolled on horseback in a scarlet tunic. When the First World War broke out, Constable Pearkes resigned from the Mounted and enlisted in the Canadian Army." - from the letter of Lt. Richard L. Newberger, to Congressman Anthony J. Dimond, re. Nov. 20, 1942, Opening ceremonies at Soldier's Summit (Cohen, p. 200).

At the beginning of the construction, Hoge had his headquarters in Whitehorse, and O'Connor had his headquarters in Ft. St. John. However, in September, 1942, the West Service Command was established and O'Connor was put in charge. He now based his operations from Whitehorse.

On September 24, 1942, the bulldozer operators of the 35th Regiment and the operators of the 340th Regiment met at Contact Creek. The troops sent south from Alaska and the troops sent north from Whitehorse finished in Beaver Creek on October 20,1942, completing that section of the road. Opening ceremonies for the Alaska Highway were held at Soldier's Summit on November 20, 1942.

After the completion of the highway, it was split into three sections. The Southern Division was responsible for all highway operations and functions in their area. For example they ran the Express Service between Dawson Creek, B.C. and Edmonton, Alberta. They also handled supplies and materials which were necessary during the construction, and supervising military and civilian personnel coming for duty. The Southern Division was started on February 16, 1942 to fufil these duties. It was originally called the Dawson Creek Division. The amount of truck miles travelled on the South section exceeded the number of truck miles travelled on any of the other sections.

The former commanding officers include: Lt. Colonel John F. Condon and Major Byron G. Hyde. The present day staff consists of Major Frank R. Blaisdell and Captain Victor O. Nabb.

The Central division was formerly known as the Whitehorse Division. It was the site of the original Alcan Headquarters. It's present employees are the people with the longest service. This division was the most important. The Central division handled cargo which arrived from Skagway for the construction. They hauled more tonnage than any other divisions.

The first officer in charge of the Central division was Lt. Colonel Herbert R. Soderston. Other officers who worked with this division were M. Sgt. Carl P. Wylie and Robert H. Bowe. Bowe is still involved in the upkeep of the highway to this day.

The Northern division was started on January 15, 1943. The commanding officer was Captain Edward G. Mrozek. This division was based in Fairbanks with no proper housing facilities and no office supplies or equipment.

Officers who worked on this division were Major Robert H. Souder and Captain Robert A. Piehl.


Officers outside Headquarters.
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