The Hemisphere: Out of the Ashcan

ALCAN INTO ASHCAN read a U.S. newspaper headline six years ago. The U.S. Army, which built the Alaska (Alcan) Highway in nine hard-driving months of 1942, had just turned over to Canada the 1,221 miles from the starting point at Dawson Creek, B.C. to the Alaska border. The headline writer, like most Americans who gave the matter any thought, assumed that the Alcan—like its famed World War II counterparts, the Burma and Ledo Roads—was purely a product of military emergency, with no peacetime future.

They were wrong about the Alaska Highway: it is busier and better than ever today. Its immediate postwar...

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