Report of the 2001 Texas to Alaska Model T Adventure

Last Revised: November 15, 2003

Sunday, July 8, 2001

Texas to Alaska

Model T Travel Report


Today's report

sponsored by:

Texas T Parts


Day 33 - July 8, 2001 - We had a short day in front of us, we thought, so we had a leisurely breakfast and started toward Tok, AK. It was only approximately 180 miles and, even as slowly as we travel, that wasn't a long day. That was before we crossed the Yukon River by ferry and started up the "Top of the World" Highway. During all the planning for this trip, this was the leg that always gave me nightmares. There is something about the phrase "Top of the World" that sounds ominous. Ben said he thought it was probably called that because it was so far north but he was wrong. There is a reason it is called "Top of the World"! As soon as you cross the ferry, you start up and the road becomes a series of continually increasing grades. The highest point was a little less than 4,000 feet but the grade to reach it was probably more than 15%. And, since we were starting at sea level, it was a long hard climb in a Model T. But I would rather have been in a T than in one of those monster motor homes we saw hugging the edge of those 1,000 foot drops! The biggest part of the road was draped in heavy fog (or possibly clouds) and you couldn't see more than a few feet in front of your car. When we finally broke through the clouds, the view was incredible.

We passed easily through Customs and re-entered the State of Alaska. The roads, which had been a surfaced gravel with numerous potholes, became dirt and more pothole than road. The 11 miles from the border to the Taylor Highway were like driving through a minefield. We thought the Taylor Highway would be better - it is a "highway" after all. Wrong! We drove 60 miles at about 10 mph trying to avoid breaking an axle. The final 40 miles of the highway were paved and we all cheered as though the road were made of gold. The town of Tok was a pretty welcome sight after more than 12 hours on the road, driving only 180 miles.

708a - It had stopped raining by this morning and we took this picture in front of the cute cabins we stayed in at Klondike Kate's in Dawson City. Left to right: Ben Hardeman's Fordor, Ross Lilliker's roadster, Jennifer and Ginger Hardeman's roadster pick-up. Ken and Joyce were in a newer (and much nicer) cabin a little outside of this picture.


708b - Jack London wrote several of his novels in Dawson City, including Call of the Wild and White Fang. The small cabin with sod on the roof was his cabin. The big cabin with the sign outside sells stuff with his name on it. We took this picture expecially for our friend Lev Blatt from Kazan, Russia. We wish you were able to make the trip to Alaska with us Lev. You would have loved it!


708c - This is the car ferry that crosses the Yukon River. It holds about 8 cars and just goes back and forth across the river. There is no bridge. That should have been a message to us as we innocently crossed the river and started up the mountain range that is the Top of the World Highway.


708d - Driving a Model T in the rain is a unique experience. For one thing, the windshield wiper (only one) is manually operated. So in addition to driving the car, the driver has to constantly wipe the rain from the window. The passenger, who has no wiper, can see nothing and imagines the worst.


708e - This is the view from the Top of the World. The clouds had cleared somewhat and you could see the trees and the hills drop away. Earlier pictures which we did not use in this journal showed only a few trees at the very edge of the road and then nothing but whiteness. The road, though less than 4000 feet, goes well above the tree line in this really cold and barren place.


708f - A view from the Alaska side of the Top of the World Highway. Fine roads, don't you think? Your tax dollars at work. When you are driving with spoked wheels, these holes can be devastating and Ken and Joyce split a rim on one tire, a pretty dangerous proposition considering the heights and distances we covered. We figure the wrecker and tire repair people probably lobby the government to leave the road in this condition.


708g - Ginger Hardeman driving the pickup on the Taylor Highway. See the dirt road? See the gravel shoulder that drops off about 2 feet down? See what looks like the top of the hill in front of her? It isn't.


708h - Your reward for making it over the mountain is to have lunch in Beautiful Downtown Chicken. Chicken is a real community (the other end of the Taylor Highway is a town called Eagle). The hamburgers cost $10 each and we all bought bumper stickers that said "I survived the Top of the World Highway". There was a sign in the store that read "No whining; we don't like the roads either."


708i - The road between Chicken and Tok began to level out. We were thrilled to see flat road, even if there were potholes in it. Here, Ginger scoots along in the rain. Later, this flat road leads to that mountain you can see in the distance.


708j - Even though this was a 9% grade, we were glad to be on paved road again. The last 40 miles before reaching the Alaska Highway were paved and from this summit on, according to the Milepost guide, should have been a "gradual decline" for the final 25 miles. However, the first thing we saw after passing this point was another 9% grade. These people just don't understand the concept of "down". This is Ross and Steve in the front car; Ken, Joyce, and Cindy behind.

For Further Information Contact:

Ben or Nancy Hardeman
Texas T Parts
1820 Gray Stone Drive
Bryan, Texas 77807
Tel: 979-361-0271
e-mail: or

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