Before ‘Ice Road Truckers’ Macks went to the Arctic

mack-arcticThe drivers on the History Channel’s cable TV reality show “Ice Road Truckers” had it easy compared to those who drove a large convoy of specially-engineered Macks to the Arctic in the 1950s.

Eleven monster Macks equipped with 600 hp diesel engines, 5-foot-tall tires and 5,500-gallon fuel tanks carried the personnel and equipment to inside the Arctic Circle to construct the DEW Line defense project in 1956.

vintage-videosThe beastly bulldogs were shipped by rail from Allentown, Pennsylvania to Seattle. From there they were loaded on barges and taken to Valdez, Alaska. They had conventional highway travel and then 500 miles over wilderness trails cut by bulldozers. Then came 500 miles over the frozen Arctic Ocean.

Temperatures were as low as -65 degrees as truckers drove in 12-hour shifts and then slept, ate and relaxed in 65-foot-long trailers.

The Dew Line was a series of radar stations meant to warn North America of potential attack from bombers of the former U.S.S.R. during the Cold War.