Yukon River Crossing
Next stop: Yukon River (Milepost 56).
The Yukon River is a major watercourse of northwestern North America, beginning in British Columbia, Canada with the lower half running through Alaska and emptying into the Bering Sea. It is 1,980 miles long.
The longest river in Alaska and the Yukon Territory, it was one of the principal means of transportation during the 1896–1903 Klondike Gold Rush. A portion of the river in the Yukon is a national heritage river and part of the Klondike Gold Rush International Historical Park. Paddle-wheel riverboats continued to use the river until the 1950s.
We crossed the river on the E. L. Patton Yukon River Bridge, north of Fairbanks on the Dalton Highway. This girder bridge carries both the Dalton Highway and the Alaska Pipeline, connecting Fairbanks with Deadhorse near the Arctic Ocean and the Prudhoe Bay Oil Field.
E. L. Patton Yukon River Bridge
As part of construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, a permanent crossing of the Yukon River became necessary to eliminate the need to construct an ice bridge to transport material across the river.
The bridge is supported by tiers anchored to bedrock beneath the river. It is 2,295 feet long and 30 feet wide. The driving surface is of timber construction supported by a steel deck attached to a pair of steel box girders. The wooden deck has been replaced in 1981, 1992, 1999 and 2007. At its highest point, the span rises approximately 200 feet above the river with its length changing by nearly 2 feet between the summer and winter months.
Upon completion in October 1975, the E. L. Patton Yukon River Bridge, named for the former president of the Alyeska Pipeline Service Company, became the first permanent bridge crossing of the Yukon River completed in Alaska and remains the only bridge crossing of the Yukon River in Alaska today.
Laurent Dick, our guide prepares the lunch fixing with the help of VJ
This was our lunch stop and photography moment as we marveled at the construction of the Alaska Pipeline on the edge of the bridge. Our guide, Laurent Dick, WildAlaskaTravel.com, spread the lunch fixing on a picnic table at the visitor’s center. With blue skies and white puffy clouds, we were happy to get out of the van, stretch our legs and partake of sustenance with warm apple cider or hot chocolate.