Alaska Day 4: Fort Nelson, BC

The alarm chimed about 6 am.

Mike was not well. Fever, night sweats, headache, zero energy.

This is a man who is almost never sick and never complains. So if he says he’s sick, he’s sick.

I’d not packed aspirin, but I brought Excedrin Migraine and generic ibuprofen. And my ND’s immune system boosting tincture. So I played doctor, then we both went back to sleep.


Fort Nelson is located at mile 300 of the Alaska Highway. After the AM nap, we wandered into the most amazing hotel (its namesake, Fort Nelson Hotel) for a late breakfast. Definitely lumberjack country, judging by our portion sizes. And the four guys who wandered in after us.

Breakfast at the Fort Nelson Hotel
Basic egg and bacon breakfast at the Fort Nelson Hotel
Breakfast at the Fort Nelson Hotel
Breakfast omelette at the Fort Nelson Hotel
Fort Nelson Hotel
The hotel decor uses an aboriginal motif.


Aboriginal art.
Aboriginal art.


Next, local history.


Fort Nelson Heritage Museum

Mike’s feeling a little better, so we head to the Fort Nelson Heritage Museum. This was our first reminder that stay-and-see (and talk to people) provides a much different vacation experience than focus-on-miles.

The curator Marl Brown (83, retired mechanic) reminded me SO much of my dad. The museum is a labor love birthed by a pack-rat-on-steroids!

Are you a car buff? This museum has got to be on your bucket list! Marl drove a 1908 Buick to Whitehorse (600+ miles, plus return trip) not too many years ago.

But the museum is more than old cars (that run!).

There’s an old post office. An Army mess hall that was turned into a church (and still has Sunday services). A trapper’s (log) cabin. A company-built house with period appliances (an enticement to bring workers to the area).

The town’s generator, before the town was on the grid. (Remember, the Alaska Highway was built in the 40s and connected this area with the rest of the world.) Telecomm equipment. Farm equipment. And stuffed animals, galore!



Marl told us he started saving things after moving to the area in the late 1950s. From his receipt of the annual Walter Smith Visionary Award in 2012:

Marl Brown came from Alberta in 1957 to work as a mechanic for the Royal Canadian Army at Mile 245 of the Alaska Highway. He, and his wife Mavis, must have been confirmed northerners from the very beginning, because a few years later, in 1961, the Browns opened Prophet River Esso Service at Mile 245, and ran it until moving to Fort Nelson in the mid-1970s. In Fort Nelson he took care of the municipal water supply until he retired in 1996.

And what an adventurer he is!

[I]n 1975, in the dead of winter, when he drove a 1926 Model T from Fort Simpson to Fort Nelson, years before the road now known as the Simpson Trail was built. In 2008, just to celebrate the 100th anniversary of his 1908 Buick Model 10, he and Mavis, along with co-pilot Bill McLeod, drove the car from Fort Nelson to Whitehorse.

[This is a placeholder — photos to come.]


Mike heads back to our room for a nap. I head to the local pharmacy for cold/flu medicine. And an edge-of-town photo op.

Fort Nelson visitor center
Frankenbike (89-90) TransAlp in front of the Fort Nelson visitor center.


Fort Nelson
Fort Nelson, BC. North edge of town looking south.


Dinner tonight is at ONE restaurant at the Woodland Suites hotel. We thought the NY strip was lovely until Tuesday night’s at Boston Pizza. (Yeah, who knew? Not us yanks.)


Fort Nelson sunset.



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