National Geographic : 1943 Feb
Alaskan Highway an Engineering Epic U. S . Army Engineers Down a Canyon Hewn through Poplars Goes a Corduroy Built from the Forest Itself Somewhere in Canada, a U. S . Army crew trims trees bowled over by tractors and lays them across a soft roadbed. This platform will be carpeted with mud from drainage ditches. After drying, the surface will be graded and, perhaps, graveled. Temporary culvert of short logs will give way later to steel and concrete. hopefully of the good dry going beyond Steam boat Mountain. They found it, too, and by the end of the summer they completed their section abreast of the other regiments. To most of the men and officers the whole summer was an endless round of extremely hard work, seven days a week and 24 hours a day. Speed was everything. But there were compensations. In spite of rain and cold, sickness of any kind was rare, and men who had spent years in an office grew tougher and stronger than they had ever been in their lives. Then, too, the highway cuts through some of the most beautiful country in western Canada, where hunting and fishing are unsur passed. Hundreds of lakes and streams are alive with grayling and rainbow trout, and every man could find at least a little time to fish. In many places grouse were so numer ous that many a soldier's supper was enlarged by a brace of birds which he had killed with a slingshot. Nasty-tempered grizzly bears and prowling black bears might be met at any time. In spite of orders that hunting by the troops was forbidden, not a few fat young black bears were roasted. They were troublesome and had to be shot in self-protection. Several soldiers were mauled by bears during the summer. "Roll Dem Bones!" There was another pastime which is prob ably universal-the age-old game of craps. In the north woods, where very little money could be spent upon anything else, craps games reached into the field of big business, par ticularly among the negro soldiers. Usually a few days after payday one man, a "scientist," held all the money in his com pany. Very often a single individual would send off money orders totaling $1,000 to $1,500. While officers played penny-ante poker, the men rolled dice at $20 a clip.