Sunday, March 1, 2009

Century of Progress - Slim Williams & Dogs at Alaska Cabin

Slim Williams was in Chicago at the Century of Progress Exposition in 1933 to promote the idea of building the Alaska Highway from Alaska to the lower 48 states. In 1932 he had boasted that he could drive his dog team along the proposed route and go all the way to Chicago, where the Century of Progress Exposition was planned for 1933. The Alaska Road Commissioner persuaded Williams that such a trip could be used to promote the building of the Alaska highway.

It took Williams five months to reach the beginning of the existing North American Highway system in British Columbia. In Washington state, the sled’s runners were replaced with wheels for the remainder of the trip to Chicago. In Chicago, Williams and his dogteam made a popular Alaskan exhibit at the Century of Progress Exposition. A Time Magazine article (October 2, 1933) reported that when former president Herbert Hoover visited the fair he chatted with Williams.

When the fair closed, Williams went to Washington, D.C. to further promote the highway. He met with legislators and President Roosevelt. The President set up a commission with Canada to explore building a highway to Alaska. The highway was considered feasible but too costly and unnecessary at that time. Construction of the Alaska Highway was finally begun in 1942, during World War II.

Below is an enlarged detail from the postcard with a better view of Williams and his equipment.

My Century of Progress website has many more Century of Progress postcards.

More information about Slim Williams:

Slim Williams (Wikipedia)

BLM Alaska Frontiers (February/March 2001)

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