2018 June 27 – Fort Nelson, BC

Today was a down day. We slept in and missed the free breakfast at the hotel (they only serve until 9 am. Can you imagine?).  It was a short drive down the road to a breakfast place.  Fort Nelson is  a very sprawling commnity.  The majority of the businesses are on frontage roads either side of the highway and there are tracts of empty lots between them.  There is no downtown core that we could find so you would find it very difficult to walk and do your shopping errands.  We spent the morning fighting internet in our hotel room.

This hotel is very large.  It had lots of rooms in the original building but at some time a big addition was added.  Everything is made of cement block – exterior and interior.  The exterior is light brown block, the interior is gray.  The corridors look like the inside of a prison.                                The new-looking Community Center.

About 1:30 we ventured forth and went down the road to the Fort Nelson Heritage Museum.  Now this is primarily a VERY eclectic collection of old cars, machinery, memorabilia, photos and items that have been compiled by the owner/curator Mr. Brown.  It was very interesting to walk around the various buildings, but in no way was this a proper museum with controlled atmospheric conditions or tidy displays.  Stuff was heaped all over and there were occasional placards with explanations.  This being hunting and trapping territory there were also lots of taxidermy specimens.

Because the building is dimly lit and full of stuff it was very hard to get good photos, even with flash.  Mostly I used a high ISO which, unfortunately, gives a yellow cast to images.  However, my photos are for my travel records, nothing else so it isn’t too big a deal. The Alaska Highway (originally called the Alcan Highway) was built in 1942 during a time when America was worried about an invasion from the Japanese through Alaska  after the attack on Pearl Harbor the previous December.  The highway was built to provide supplies and equipment to the north.  The 1700 miles (2257 km) of very rough road was built in 8 months and 12 days at a cost of $140 million.  More than 11,000 American troops, including 7 regiments of engineers, 16,000 civilian workers from the USA and Canada, and 7,000 pieces of equipment completed the task.  Construction officially began on March 8, 1942  and soldiers met at Contact Creek, near the BC/Yukon border on September 24, 1942.  The road was literally bulldozed through the wilderness.President Hoover authorized the contruction of the Alaska Highway on February 11, 1942.  The US secured rights-of-way through Canada in March.  The formal agreement between the two countries stipulated that the US pay for construciton and turn over the Canadian portion of the highway (it starts in Dawson Creek, BC and ends in Fairbanks, AK) after the war ended.  In turn, Canada furnished the rights-of-way, waived import duties, sales tax, income tax and immigration regulations, and provided construction materials along the route.  We will be driving much of the highway during our trip.

                                          Now, who doesn’t need a beaded buckskin bikini? The canoe is hanging from the ceiling above John and all the photographs on the wall document it’s construction. This photograph of a young bear clinging to a bridge support over a raging river was pretty cute.                 An original newspaper from September 11, 1939.                                              This is an albino cow moose.

 This Grizzly wasn’t very big, but it sure had long claws.This is a female silver-tip grizzly. The silver tinge to her hair goes all the way to the skin.                                     The emblematic Canadian Beaver.                               A lynx                                                              and an otter.Muskrats.  I was surprised at how big they were; about the size of  a rabbit.

                                                                                     The beautiful Snowy Owl.I had to take these two photos for my brother-in-law who loves to restore old chainsaws.Outside they have seven buildings; three of which were locked. The first was jammed full of old cars and trucks. Oh, the good old days.  It was very exciting back then to have a phone not attached to the wall and in colours other than black! This former Anglican Church was originally an army mess hall. The front entrance was a later addition.

 Where to keep your foodstuffs and meat so the critters don’t eat it all before you can. After our wander around the museum we drove about 10 km out of town to see the shallow Parker Lake (and find a geocache). We drove back to Fort Nelson, did a drive around to see if there was more of a town center beyond the highway frontage (nope), found another cache and headed to our hotel for a couple of hours of laziness before dinner.

Tomorrow we drive 522 km (324 miles) to Watson Lake.  Today turned out to be quite a nice day and I am really hoping tomorrow will be about the same.  The section of the Alaska Highway between Fort Nelson and Watson Lake is supposed to be very scenic.   This area is called the north Rockies.  Here’s hopin’.

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