Carcross, Yukon Territory — The Canadian Territories
Carcross during World War II
Alaska-Canada Highway, 50 Years: 1942-1992
During World War II, Carcross played an important role in Alaska Highway construction. The connection here between the White Pass rail and water transportation systems gave the U.S. Army access to the Yukon’s interior.
By early 1942, Carcross residents were well aware of the war. Many young men had joined the armed forces, and their families anxiously followed the news from Europe. That spring, however, the war moved much closer to home when 1200 Black troops of the 93rd Engineers stepped off the train. Over 10,000 soldiers would pass through town, and Carcross became the distribution centre for road construction east to Teslin and northwest to Whitehorse. That fall, the contractor for the Canol pipeline, Bechtel-Price-Callahan, set up a supply camp near the railway station.
It was a busy time. Up to 25 trains a day rolled through town. Army trucks met the trains, then carried supplies to outlying road camps. Military planes flew in and out of the small airport. There was no lack of work for the local people. Johnnie Johns, a well-known big game outfitter, leased and sold horses to advance parties for both Alaska Highway construction
The town’s services were modernized. Civilian contractors supplied many buildings with electricity and year-round piped water.
Communications also improved when the gold rush era telegraph line along the railway was replaced by an eight-wire telephone/telegraph service.
The “Friendly Invasion” also brought tragedy to Carcross. Many Tagish and Tlingit people were infected with diseases introduced by the soldiers. Despite the efforts of army doctors and devoted nursing by family members, many Indians died from measles, chicken pox, and dysentery.
The soldiers and contractors departed as quickly as they had arrived. Their legacy was the network of roads that permanently altered the character of the community.
Some members of the 93rd Engineers in front of the Carcross train station – oval
Courtesy of the Dickson Family
Johnnie Johns, 1947 – bottom right
Courtesy of Art Johns
Map, circa 1943, showing the route of Carcross & Tagish Roads
Location. 60° 9.976′ N, 134° 42.347′ W. Marker is in Carcross, Yukon Territory. Marker can be reached from Klondike Highway (Yukon Territory Route 2) north of Tagish Road. Touch for map. The marker is in the open area southwest of the Klondike Highway and northeast of the White Pass and Klondike Railway depot in Carcross. Marker is in this post office area: Carcross, Yukon Territory Y0B 1B0, Canada.
Other nearby markers. At least 3 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. James “Skookum” Jim Mason (about 150 meters away, measured in a direct line); White Pass & Yukon Route (about 150 meters away); a different marker also named White Pass & Yukon Route (about 180 meters away).
Additional keywords. "Caribou Crossing"; "The Yukon"; "First Nations"; ALCAN Highway
Categories. • African Americans • Native Americans • Roads & Vehicles • War, World II •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on September 29, 2013, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. This page has been viewed 588 times since then and 22 times this year. Photos: 1. submitted on September 29, 2013, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. 2, 3. submitted on September 30, 2013, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.