"With Warming, Peril Underlies Road to Alaska"

"WHITEHORSE, Yukon Territory — In February 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave the Army Corps of Engineers an assignment: Build a road from British Columbia across the Yukon to Alaska — in eight months, before winter sets in."

"Japan had just destroyed much of the Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor. Alaska was vulnerable to invasion (in fact, the Japanese occupied two Aleutian Islands that June). If Americans did not build a supply road linking Alaska to the heart of North America, the thinking went, invading Japanese would do it for them.

But prospects for success were poor. The road would traverse 1,500 miles of mountainous subarctic terrain, most of it unsettled, heavily forested and unmapped. Engineers would face fierce cold, fierce heat, vicious insects, and vast stretches of permafrost and boggy terrain called muskeg that swallowed bulldozers whole."

Cornelia Dean reports for the New York Times July 23, 2012.

Source: NY Times, 07/24/2012