Ice Roads

April 25th, 2007 by William

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Along time ago I read something about big rig trucks hauling heavy loads across thick frozen over water in the dead of winter. As I recall they could only do it for a narrow window of time, but the advantage was it cut a massive distance off the trip when compared to the routes that had to be used in warmer months, and in some cases there was no overland access during warmer months.

This memory prompted me to do a little bit of research on the subject and I was happy to stumble across a few great websites as well as a very informative article in popular mechanics on the subject of ice roads. As it turns out my recollections weren’t that far off. As William (Diesel Gypsy) Weatherstone describes on his website,

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The Northern Territories & Provinces of Canada have a unique winter trucking program that is unparalleled in the world. In the harsh environment of -30 to -70 degrees Fahrenheit below zero, (not counting any wind chill factor) men build highways of ice into the Arctic Tundra.

The reason for this seasonal highway is to supply the isolated mining camps, (Precious metals, and the new Northern Diamond fields). With no roads possible in the other 3 seasons, the only other way to transport equipment and supplies into these camps is by air, at a horrendous cost.

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During a short period of a few months in the winter, when the muskeg and lakes are frozen over, it is possible to build a frozen roadway to transport a year’s supply of equipment, food and the necessities of life, at a more practical, reasonable cost. Anyone with stock shares in these mining ventures, owe the ice men of the north for the extra profits gained.

These brave truckers risk life and limb to deliver their payloads battling severe weather, high risk of mechanical failure, and they even occasionally break through the ice. It is not a job for the faint of heart. Yet each winter the trucks load up and head north across the frozen expanses.

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The Popular Mechanics article located here is a really great read on the subject and I highly recommend it if you have any interest in these great Canadian ice roads. Also be sure to check out the Diesel Gypsy website for plenty of good information and some great pictures.

-Bill Mertz

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One Response to “Ice Roads”

  1. Automotive Blogger » Blog Archive » Ice Truckers, indeed Says:

    […] indeed June 18th, 2007 by Will Thompson Back when Bill Mertz was still writing this site, he did a post about how big rigs crossed ice roads carved into the tundra of Canada’s northern […]

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