Thursday, June 12, 2008

A Road Less Traveled

We tried our luck today at the world's largest gold pan before heading to Buckshot Betty's to buy a loaf of fresh home made bread.

The ride this morning will take us along a section of the Alaska Highway known for its frost heaves and almost continuous road construction.

New methods and materials are being tested to try and prevent thermafrost from thawing and causing roads to buckle.

The fairly remote fifty nine mile McCarthy Rd., mostly dirt, narrow in places with soft shoulders, is built on the old railroad bed that went to the Kennecott Copper Mine. The 600 foot long Kuskulana River Bridge spans a 238 foot gorge.

Another attraction is the remains of an old curved trestle spanning the Gilahna River.

 The road ends at the Kennicott River where a foot bridge allows pedestrian access into the town of McCarthy.

 A four mile shuttle ride takes one to the old Kennecott Mine and the Root Glacier. The mine, discovered in 1900, produced over 2 million dollars in copper ore before it closed in 1938.

As the Root Glacier recedes, it leaves an ice field several feet thick covered by over three feet of insulating dirt that makes it look like mine tailings.

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