The Signpost Forest

Signposts010Our campground in Watson Lake had an area to wash cars and RVs so we washed the car in the morning. Then we blogged some more and headed to the visitor center museum and the signpost forest.Signposts013

Signposts012The signpost forest is pretty amazing. Thousands of signs from all over the United States, Canada and many other countries on countless posts.

Signposts015Signposts026It all began when construction crews for the Alaska Highway posted signs in their camps naming their hometowns and the direction and distance to them. Then a soldier named Carl Lindley posted a sign with his hometown name, Danville, Illinois here in the town of Watson Lake. Soon others joined and the signpost forest grew.Signposts003

Signposts024Later, people began to steal road signs from their towns and posting them here.  Then some people started to post signs with their names, the year, and other messages. As of the last count in 2013, there were 73,000+ signs here.

Signposts021So many people have left an indelible mark and you can almost hear their stories. Aside from the pilfered official road signs, there is a large variety of homemade signs from the totally rustic to the fancy artistic ones. Wood planks, metal tins that people punched letters into, we even saw a couple of shoe soles. Signposts002

Signposts028Yet another service that the Watson Lake Visitor Center offers is a “sign making kit” for those that want to create their own signs. It includes markers, paint and paint brushes. Cute.

We knew we wanted a homemade sign and not a manufactured one so we brought our own piece of wood and some clear lacquer spray to seal it. But we did borrow the visitor center’s kit and used some of their markers. And we are quite happy with our highly artistic sign.

Signposts032It was raining lightly while we were putting it up, so we proved that the varnish coat was doing its job.Signposts033Signposts034

In case anyone should want to see this fabulous work of art in person, here are directions. Walk in through the official Signpost Forest arch and go down the steps.  Look for a lamppost on your right.  Just past the lamppost look for a row of posts where the first post has the cross streets of White Tail Deer Rd and Hatch Gravel Rd at the very top. Our sign is in that row on the 14th post, just above a large green “La Crete, Alberta 993 miles” sign and a Florida license plate.  Enjoy!  🙂Signposts035

While in Watson Lake, we also visited the Northern Lights Center, a planetarium that shows a film about the Northern Lights. They were showing a film about black holes as well, and the two films together were 50 minutes long.

Signposts041It was nice to learn a little bit about the auroras because they are common here from September until April, but the film was just ok. But the most amazing fact that we learned was that the auroras that form near the North and South Poles are mirror images of each other, proven by two aircraft that filmed them simultaneously.Signposts009

Afterwards, we returned to the Signpost Forest to bid farewell to our sign, and bumped into other forest dwellers, Nikki and Jason of Gone with the Wynns fame. We had read their blog, but had never met them. They are very sweet. They are headed in the same general direction as us, so we hope to bump into them again.

There isn’t too much else to the town of Watson Lake.  Our campground was across from pretty Wye Lake with a short hiking trail that goes around it.  But we skipped the hike since it was raining.

Signposts042Signposts044We did drive out to the airport where they have a couple of neat old buildings and some displays about the old airfield.

Before there was the Alaska Highway and the war, in 1939 there was a series of remote airfields that were used to ferry supplies across the Yukon called the Northwest Staging Route.  Signposts048

Signposts049Signposts043During WWII it was also known as the ALSIB or Alaska Siberia route used to ferry almost 8000 military aircraft and supplies to our then ally Russia.  Often these planes were flown by Women Air Force Service Pilots (WASPs) of the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron.  Signposts050

Signposts045The route chosen for the highway was intended to connect these dots together for an overland ground route.

Another interesting building in the town was a very old auto and truck service station from the 50s in a very large log building.  Signposts039

 

Signposts040We hit the road kind of late in the day but were determined to put at least a few miles behind us that day.

Signposts025Driving Day 6 Recap:

Road Name (s): Yukon Highway 1

Road Type: 2-lane

Road Conditions: Excellent with a few gravel breaks

Miles Today: 75

Miles driven from Canadian border: 1416

Miles on the Alaska Highway: 687.2

Driving Time: 1:25

Signposts053Signposts052This was glorious country, more pine forest and green mountains on two sides. There were more stunning views of river and wetlands. There were no wildlife sightings, which was ok, since the views were so spectacular. At one point, without thinking, I asked Hector “When does it stop being beautiful?”.

Cycling the Alaska Highway!

Bicycling the Alaska Highway!

Signposts056It began to rain even harder and was getting late in the evening, so we called it a day when we reached the Rancheria Lodge, another great funky roadhouse.Signposts064

Signposts061Signposts059They have an RV park that we planned to stay in, but after we ate dinner at the roadhouse we asked if we could just park at the edge of their lot for the night and the nice people said yes. They also had free WiFi which worked pretty well, so we were able to catch up a bit more on our blog and social media.

Tip of the day: When you patronize a business such as a restaurant or gas station in a remote area, they may allow you to stay overnight if you ask nicely.

Another great plus about this place is that they have resident moose that feed in their pond. More on that later.

~ Brenda

 

27 thoughts on “The Signpost Forest

  1. Small world the Florida plate under your sign is where I live Putnam county Florida .When we were there in 2006 the first sign we saw was from San Mateo Fl which is the town we lived in at the time . Enjoy your trip.

  2. I like the sign post and the tip of the day! Well seasoned travelers that leave behind good thoughts and now even a sign! Well done!
    Like the old airport stuff too!

  3. Can’t wait to see the “forest”. I follow the Wynn’s blog along with yours and Pam Wright’s. Feel like I’m following friends along the way. We leave tomorrow! 🙂

  4. Love your sign! I looked closely at all your photos and didn’t see ours. I don’t remember where it was exactly but I know we walked in underneath the arch. We really enjoyed wandering around and seeing signs from so many different places. You’re getting really close to Alaska now…

  5. Your posts are bringing back such wonderful memories of our 2013 journey to Alaska. We were in Watson Lake on June 14, 2013 and arrived in Skagway, our first stop in Alaska, the next day.

    I’m curious why my WordPress gravatar doesn’t appear when I post a comment here.

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