The Alaska Pipeline Sidetrip
(Paxton to Wasilla)
A leisurely trip from Paxton north to Delta Junction added a few key
birds to our list (Harlan's Hawk, Hammond's Flycatcher, Red-breasted Merganser)
but the prime purpose was to check out the Alaska pipeline. Being raised
in a oil town by an oil executive (yes, this page is for you, Dad), I was
always interested in the oil business, and in Alaska, the pipeline had
to overcome some significant problems to bring the north sea oil down to
This sign illustrates some of the major
problems that had to be overcome
||Half of the 850 mile pipeline was built above ground for three primary
reasons - unstable tundra, temperature variations and earthquakes. The
pipeline was built in a zig-zag so that there was room for expansion and
contraction of the pipes as the annual temperature cycle moved from 75
degrees Farenheit in the summer, to 60+ degrees below zero in the winter.
The tall vanes sticking above the pipeline trap the wind to cool the excess
heat generated by the swiftly moving oil.
It was an interesting feat of engineering, but not as interesting as our
||These pictures illustrate the sliding mechanism supporting the pipeline
which allows each individual segment to move laterally and longitudinally,
in case of earth tremors.
Back to the Denali Highway