were out of commission within a year. Mud devoured many, brutally cold winter temperatures the rest. If fires were not continually kept burning under transmission cases and axles, oil froze solid and equipment was rendered useless. As a second spring arrived, warming brought with it flash floods, landslides, and forest fires. With a traditional response, the Army threw more resources at the stubborn project. Two hundred thousand tons of supplies made the difficult journey north, and fifty three thousand workers toiled as the pipeline slowly crept forward through the mountains. Ten pumping stations were installed to help move the crude along the line. A refinery was purchased in Texas, dismantled, shipped up the Pacific coast, and rebuilt in Whitehorse. As progress on the primary Canol pipeline ground forward, subsidiary lines were laid from Whitehorse to Fairbanks, Watson Lake, Skagway, and Haines, bringing the total network to almost eighteen hundred miles (3000 km). Two thousand miles (3300 km) of road were constructed, a length thirty percent greater than the Alaska Highway, which the project was meant to service. And finally, on February 16th, 1944, almost three years after the Canol’s approval, the last weld was completed. Normal Well’s crude began to flow.
A one hundred and thirty four million dollar bill was presented to Congress, but further inquiries showed that upwards of three hundred million was actually spent, the remainder carefully hidden amongst other wartime costs. Either way the cost was astronomical. And still the fledgling project continued to be beset with difficulties. The pipeline required constant maintenance in the unforgiving terrain. Over one hundred and ninety thousand barrels of oil were lost due to leakages and spills during the first months of operation. Oil which did flow all the way to Whitehorse became some of the most expensive in history, having associated costs as high as three hundred dollars per barrel. (If one accounts for inflation, this reflects a 2004 price of well over three thousand dollars a barrel!) To put this in perspective, during the war the Army had an outstanding contract to purchase domestic crude for $1.43/barrel in the lower forty eight. It quickly became clear that the four inch pipe (a laughable gauge even by 1940 standards) could never meet Alaska’s fuel requirements.
The Canol had become a target of Truman’s Special Investigating Committee long before its completion, and by late 1944 the facts were damning. The Senate threatened to go public with an inquiry unless the