Report of the 2001 Texas to Alaska Model T Adventure

Last Revised: November 15, 2003


Wednesday, July 18, 2001

Texas to Alaska

Model T Travel Report


Today's report

sponsored by:

Texas T Parts



Day 43 - July 18, 2001 - We woke up at 8:00 am in Prudhoe Bay (also known as Deadhorse), exhausted from the drive. Ben and Nancy had spent some time the night before discussing options: driving out, finding a way to trailer the cars out, leaving the cars behind and flying out, etc. (The option considered depended on whether Nancy or Ben was the one considering.) Ben checked on flights and Nancy decided to fly out and leave the cars behind for the others to drive out. Steve, who had to catch a plane out of Fairbanks at midnight on Friday, decided he couldn't risk missing the plane and flew back, too. The others, Ben, Jennifer, Ginger, Ross, and Cindy bought gas, tee shirts (we've been there and bought the tee shirts), and pulled out around 11:30 am for the drive to Wiseman. Nancy and Steve caught a flight to Fairbanks by way of Anchorage and arrived back at the Super 8 later Wednesday evening. Nancy had survived the Dalton Highway and couldn't see the need to do it twice.

The drive back to Wiseman was long and hard but there were no breakdowns and very few adjustments. There was a lot of construction equipment out on the road and many of the operators had cameras with them. As the cars drove past, the men would open the door and take pictures. At lunch, poor Lucky had to get outside and everybody piled into the Fordor to escape the mosquitoes and eat. They stopped back by the DOT office to let them know we had made it but no one from the night before was there so, mostly, they just drove. The road was in worse condition than the night before because of the on-going construction work and it took everyone's concentration to avoid the obstacles. They didn't see much wildlife and, when they did, they just pointed it out to each other and drove. It was a tired and much smaller group that arrived back at the bed-and-breakfasts in Wiseman at 11:30 that night. The trip up had taken 20 hours; the trip back had taken 12.

It was there that they learned that Ken and Joyce had not had an easy time either. Uta and Bernie of the Arctic Hideaway B&B had let them use their phone to try to get help. Willard Vinton of the Antique Car Club in Fairbanks made arrangements for a truck to pick them up at 3:00 on Tuesday but a variety of problems interfered with the man's timely arrival. After waiting in the Coldfoot Cafe all day (and hearing reports from the truckers as to our progress), the truck arrived at midnight and the driver told them that, while he could take the car, he could not take them with him. They made arrangements to catch the twice-weekly shuttle back to the city on Wednesday and the shuttle driver literally had to install an extra seat to carry them both. They arrived back at the Super 8 around midnight.

I know what you are thinking: "What were they thinking?!" While none of us ever want to see that place or drive that road again, we are all glad that we did it. From the very beginning of the planning for this trip, driving to Prudhoe Bay has been the goal. We live in the south of Texas and Prudhoe Bay is the top of the world. It is the farthest north you can drive; there is nothing further north but ice. To go there in an antique car, to maintain the cars and keep them running in spite of almost overwhelming odds, to accomplish the goal we set for ourselves was exhilarating, even at 4:00 am.

718a - We made it! We created quite a stir in Deadhorse (the original and alternate name for Prudhoe Bay when people woke up to our T's in their front yard. Ginger took this photo just before the group left so, unfortunately, isn't in it. We were a tired, but happy-to-have-made-it, group that morning. We are standing in front of the Caribou Inn, our motel in Prudhoe. If it looks pretty utilitarian, it is. All of the buildings in Prudhoe Bay are prefabricated structures, balanced very carefully on the permafrost. Left to right: Ben and Nancy Hardeman, next to their 1927 Fordor. Steve Markowski, a friend of the Hardemans from Bryan, TX. Ross Lilleker of Darbyshire, England, next to his 1927 roadster. Jennifer Hardeman, next to the 1926 pick-up truck she shares with her sister, Ginger. Cindy Hudgens, who also made the trip, is not in the picture.


718b - No one could believe we had actually driven these cars over the Haul Road (Dalton Highway). The lady at the Post Office asked if we could park in front of her building so she could take our picture. This is both the Post Office and the General Store and is the only store of any substance in this town. This is a town that exists to support the oil fields. The workers live in the motels and dormitory-like structures provided by their respective companies. They eat in the dining room, sleep in a room that someone else sleeps in when they are gone, and fly home every few weeks for a visit to their families.


718c - The Prudhoe Bay oilfields are built at the edge of the Arctic Ocean and the area surrounding the town is dotted with small lakes and ponds. This view of the town across the lake is about as pretty a view as you will get of it. There are no private homes, no small businesses other than the general store and the gas stations, no yards, no flower gardens, no trees. Only a handful of people are full-time residents; most work two weeks on, two weeks off. The companies fly them out to their homes (so they don't have to drive that road) and fly them back. They work 12-14 hour days, even in the winter. It is a hard life and many have done it for years. We were glad to take our T's and head out.


718d - The roads were in pretty poor condition already and the construction crews were laying down a thick layer of gravel and rocks. The wheels sunk down into the soft mix and made the going even harder. One advantage we had in the T's over modern cars: we are higher off the ground so it is easier to pass over some of the boulders. Also, we had been told that the front wheels often kick up stones that damage the underside of automobiles or puncture the tires. Our much slower speed kept that from happening. Our concern, of course, was that a hidden stone or hole would break an axle or a wheel.


718e - Jennifer's pick-up passes through the tundra on the way back to Wiseman. We thought this road was awfully bad on the way up but had seen so much worse that this didn't seem so bad on the way back.


718f - The approach to Atigun Pass. That is not a small town you can see in the distance; it is a pumping station for the oil pipeline. They don't actually pump at these stations; they are pumping all the time. These are monitoring stations, providing checks and security and monitoring for the line. Oh, and take a look at the road.


718g - Lined up before tackling Atigun Pass. The day was a lot clearer than the day before and the views were pretty spectacular. You can catch an idea of the steepness if you follow the line of the road. Left to right: Ross's roadster, Jennifer and Ginger's pick-up, Ben's Fordor.


718h - Ross tops a hill near the top of the pass. Those are clouds he is driving in. It was pretty beautiful, even when they reached the summit and saw the valley floor in front of them. This particular mountain has a 12% grade and it is as exciting going downhill. It takes a good driver to control the car with the transmission and without riding the brakes.

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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