Tag Archives: Trans-Alaska Pipeline

Once upon a time on a trip to Alaska, day 30

Valdez, Alaska

Sunday, July 15, 1973

We’d been on our trip for one month as of this day.

A short drive today, the sixty-five miles on into Valdez (Val-DEEZ, although I wanted to pronounce it Val-DES, as I recall).  We drove through both a tunnel drippy enough to require the use of the windshield wipers while traversing it, and over a bridge to get there. Valdez is yet another beautifully-located coastal town, this one on the shores of Prince William Sound, a name which became familiar to the world in the worst possible way, being the location of the Exxon-Valdez spill, one of the worst ecological disasters in history.

An aerial view of Valdez.

The main thing I remember about Valdez, which would later become the southern terminus of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, is the huge piles of metal pipe stacked everywhere, awaiting government approval for the pipeline’s construction later that year.  The pipes were bigger in diameter than I was tall, as I recall, and pyramidal stacks of them were all over the place.

Alaska pipeline pipe.

Our afternoon was spent exploring Valdez, and going to a slide program at the city’s information center.  I don’t remember what the slide show was about, nor do I mention its subject in my diary.  I suspect it was either about the 1964 earthquake, which hit very hard in Valdez as it did everywhere else along the south coast of mainland Alaska, or about the proposed pipeline.  Or it could have been about both, I suppose.

And we did do some more fishing, so I was wrong about our last time fishing on the trip being on the Kenai Peninsula.  I know we didn’t catch anything, though.

True Gold, a novel about the Klondike Gold Rush, is now available through Amazon and Smashwords

Once upon a time on a trip to Alaska, day 28

Elmendorf Air Force Base, Anchorage, Alaska

Friday, July 13, 1973

We spent the morning at a museum I didn’t name in my diary, but I suspect it was the Anchorage Museum, which like the other museums we visited on this trip, appears to have come up in the world since 1973.  I was rather impressed with it, however, especially the anthropological exhibits about the native peoples.

After lunch, my father the petroleum engineer went off in a small plane on a trip that he’d arranged with some of his colleagues to see some of the proposed path of the then-still-unbuilt Trans-Alaska Pipeline, which now runs from Prudhoe Bay on the Arctic Sea to Valdez, on Prince William Sound on the southern end of mainland Alaska.

The pipeline was, as you may remember, an exceedingly controversial project at the time, and it had not yet received federal approval. Exceedingly controversial everywhere except Alaska itself, it seemed, where so far as I could tell it was viewed in a very positive manner by most of the population.  As a matter of fact the most common bumper sticker we saw on our trip read “Sierra Club go home!”  I don’t know if Alaskans still feel the same way about it after the Exxon-Valdez oil spill that caused such horrific damage to Prince William Sound, but the prevailing mood at the time we were there was “bring it on!”

While my father was gone, my aunt and cousin took my mother and me shopping.  Apparently I bought the bulk of my Alaska souvenirs in Anchorage, because my trove included another book, Sally Carrighar’s Icebound Summer, about her adventures as a wildlife biologist and writer in the Alaskan wilderness, a change purse shaped like a moccasin, and a trio of miniature mountain goats:

Miniature china mountain goats

I started collecting miniatures when I was very young.  These aren’t anything special to anyone but me, just mass-produced bone china, but they’re part of a collection that’s made it with me so far through twenty-five moves and two divorces, so I think I’ll hang onto them.

One more night at my aunt’s, and we were on our way again.

True Gold, a novel about the Klondike Gold Rush, is now available through Amazon and Smashwords