THE YEAR OF THE ROAD TRIP  - THE ALASKA HIGHWAY

The Alaska Highway (also known as the Alaskan Highway, Alaska-Canadian Highway, or ALCAN Highway) was constructed during World War II for the purpose of connecting the contiguous United States to Alaska through Canada. It begins at the junction with several Canadian highways in Dawson Creek, British Columbia, and runs to Delta Junction, Alaska, via Whitehorse, Yukon. Completed in 1942 at a length of approximately 2,700 kilometres (1,700 mi), as of 2012 it is 2,232 km (1,387 mi) long. The difference in distance is due to constant reconstruction of the highway, which has rerouted and straightened out numerous sections. The highway was opened to the public in 1948. Legendary over many decades for being a rough, challenging drive, the highway is now paved over its entire length.

ALASKA HIGHWAY

The reason we picked this one for our road trip in December, should be obvious. North Pole is on this route and this time of year, we should pay it a visit.


Whitehorse, Yukon

The community of Whitehorse in Yukon has it all―wilderness out the back door as well as all the modern conveniences and amenities of downtown. A network of hiking trails surrounds what's known as the Wilderness City, and the Yukon River flows right through town, with trails and parks on its banks. Visitors are often surprised to learn that this cosmopolitan capital city of about 25,000 people offers all the amenities and comforts of a southern metropolis.

Haines Junction, Yukon

Known to Yukoners as "the Junction", Haines Junction sits at the intersection of the Haines Road and Alaska Highway. Surrounded by dramatic scenery, this picturesque mountain village nestled at the edge of Kluane National Park and Reserve of Canada boasts a wilderness adventure playground in its back­yard.

 



North Pole, Alaska


Welcome to North Pole, Alaska – where the spirit of Christmas lives year ‘round!
North Pole is a growing community that captures the imaginations of visitors to our great state.  Driving through North Pole in any season you will notice Christmas decorations, street names, and light poles that reflect our motto.  When you visit North Pole, be sure to drive down Santa Claus Lane with our new round-a-bouts and giant candy can light poles.
No visit to North Pole would be complete without a stop at the Santa Claus House.  This world famous attraction houses unique gifts sure to please family and friends back home.  We also have a variety of wonderful restaurants sure to satisfy any palate.  And remember, Santa knows who’s been naughty or nice!




 

Santa Claus House

When Con and Nellie Miller arrived in Fairbanks, Alaska in 1949, they had $1.40 in cash and two hungry kids. Determined to carve out a living in the new territory of Alaska, Con soon became a merchant and fur buyer in the surrounding villages. Donning an old red Santa suit each Christmas, Con earned celebrity status as Santa Claus in the eyes of the village children – the first St. Nick many had ever seen.


By 1952, the Millers had decided to build a trading post thirteen miles south of Fairbanks, in an area newly dubbed “North Pole.” One day, while hard at work on the new store, a young Alaskan boy recognized Con and asked, “Hello, Santa Claus! Are you building a new house?” Inspiration clicked…the new store would be called “Santa Claus House!”


In those early days, however, Santa Claus House offered more basic necessities than it did Christmas treasures. Situated between two military installations and right in the middle of developing North Pole, Santa Claus House became an impromptu gathering place for area residents. In addition to purchasing their groceries, locals could mingle at the soda fountain or pick up their daily mail, as Santa Claus House, under the direction of Postmistress Nellie Miller, was a mail contract station and served as North Pole’s first Post Office for almost 20 years.

Santa Claus House

As the community grew and changed over the following years, so did Santa Claus House. In 1972 the state rerouted the Richardson Highway, bypassing the store’s location. Undaunted, the Millers built a new storefront on the new four-lane highway, which is the store’s location to this day. Inside, the store’s emphasis on Christmas delights slowly replaced the aisles of well-stocked canned goods.


Although Santa Claus House changed, the Miller family commitment’s to the community of North Pole did not. Con Miller served as the mayor of North Pole for 19 years (the city’s longest serving mayor) while Nellie Miller acted as Marriage Commissioner for the community, marrying thousands of couples inside Santa Claus House.

 


Santa Claus House

The Santa Claus House family tradition, begun over 50 years ago by Con and Nellie Miller, continues as following generations of Millers build on the past and look forward to the future. If you should happen to be one of the thousands who visit Santa Claus House each year, you just might catch a glimpse of the Millers as they dash about performing their endless duties. But, whether sending Santa letters to boys and girls around the world, or greeting visitors to Santa Claus House, you know that when they wish you a “Merry Christmas!” they know what they’re talking about!

 

Christmas In Ice - Park

Christmas in Ice, the 6-week winter ice park located next to Santa Claus House in North Pole, features Christmas-themed ice art competition pieces, ice slides and a maze, twirlers, indoor kids’ crafts, and educational ice sculpture demonstrations, adding color and light to our Interior Alaska winter.