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Chapter 8

CANOL, the Forgotten Trail

Trekking the U.S. Military’s bungled northern Pipeline Project

2000

THIS IS NO PICNIC

Working and living conditions on this job are as difficult as those encountered on any construction job ever done in the United States or foreign territory.  Men hired for this job will be required to work and live under the most extreme conditions imaginable. Temperatures will range from 90 degrees above zero to 70 degrees below zero.  Men will have to fight swamps, rivers, ice and cold.  Mosquitoes, flies, and gnats will not only be annoying but will cause bodily harm.  

If you are not prepared to work under these and similar conditions,

DO NOT APPLY

(This message appeared in hiring office across North America during the spring of 1942, posted by Bechtel-Price-Callahan, the primary civilian contractor supporting the United States War Department’s Canol Pipeline Project.  The immense, secretive, and ultimately bungled construction project overwhelmed a vast swath of the Canadian Northwest during the wartime years.)

What had begun as intermittent drizzle was now a continuous downpour.  As bone chilling clouds slid over the low foothills of the Yukon’s Mackenzie Mountains, every branch and twig in the barrens seemed to reach up and grasp at the swirling mist, stalling its progress.  More and more rain dumped onto the sodden

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