American Experience (1988– )
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Building the Alaska Highway 

The creation of the 1,500-mile Alaska-Canada Highway.


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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Joe Morton ... Narrator
Ruth Gruber ... Herself - Journalist
Ken Coates Ken Coates ... Himself - Historian
Charles Hendricks Charles Hendricks ... Himself - Military Historian
Heath Twichell Heath Twichell ... Himself - Historian
William Griggs William Griggs ... Himself - Army Engineer
Franklin D. Roosevelt ... Himself (archive footage) (as Franklin Delano Roosevelt)
Billy Connor Billy Connor ... Himself - Civil Engineer
Hayward Oubre Hayward Oubre ... Himself - Army Engineer
John Bollin John Bollin ... Himself - Army Engineer
Henry Geyer Henry Geyer ... Himself - Army Engineer
Fred Mims Fred Mims ... Himself - Quartermaster Corps
Alden Hacker Alden Hacker ... Himself - Army Engineer
Bob Trail Bob Trail ... Himself - Canadian Resident
Alice Summer Alice Summer ... Herself - Canadian Resident


The creation of the 1,500-mile Alaska-Canada Highway.

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Official Sites:

PBS [United States]

Release Date:

7 February 2005 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Diner Media, WGBH See more »
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Did You Know?

Crazy Credits

Time Magazine © 1942 Time Inc. Reprinted by permission. See more »

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User Reviews

Well done, as usual, but not exactly one of the more interesting topics.
8 May 2012 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

This episode of "The American Experience" is set during WWII. The Allies are concerned, as Alaska is very close to Japanese territory--and getting to Alaska to fight off a Japanese attack there (which eventually did happen) would be impossible as would supplying our new Russian allies without a highway to send supplies and troops through the heart of Canada to Alaska. The problem was that this road would have to become freaking huge and needed to be done quickly. Normally, a road like this should have taken a decade or more to make--they were committed to making it in less than a year! Could it be done? And what would it be like working in this god-forsaken freezing wilderness?!

Over the last year, I've become an "American Experience" junkie--checking out all the episodes I could find on Netflix. At this point, there are only a few left--and they are ones that are mostly of topics I didn't find as interesting as the ones I chose months ago. So, this episode about the creation of the "Alcan" or Alaskan-Canadian highway during WWII was one I honestly had far less interest in seeing....far, far less. You may not feel this way about the topic--so don't avoid it simply because it wasn't one that excited me. I just found my mind wandering and my butt shifting in my chair a lot--sure signs that I just wasn't interested in the topic--though I really did have to admire the engineering feat accomplished by these folks!

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