Report of the 2001 Texas to Alaska Model T Adventure

Last Revised: November 15, 2003

Saturday, July 28, 2001

Texas to Alaska

Model T Travel Report


Today's report

sponsored by:

Texas T Parts


Day 53 - July 28, 2001 - We left Muncho Lake for our drive to Fort Nelson. The drive out of the lodge ran right at the water's edge for several miles. We saw the original hair-raising road yesterday from the air, a winding, treacherous drive up and down steep ridges overhanging the water. The next two years were spent cutting shelf in the rock face along the edge of the lake and hauling away the rocks with horses. It is narrow and winding but it is flat for about 8 miles.

We saw a lot of wildlife on the drive today. This time, there actually were animals when the signs said there would be. And several times, they were standing in the road and we had to stop to allow them to pass. Pretty cool.

We had been told that our highest point would be at a place called Summit Pass so we were surprised when it turned out to be a long approach that we made without difficulty. We stopped at Summit Lake for lunch (cooked on the manifold) and attracted a crowd at the picnic grounds. Some of the other travelers were from Texas, too, and it was nice to visit with someone from home. They were on their way to Muncho Lake for a fishing vacation at the Northern Rockies Lodge. Everyone, no matter where they were from, were amazed that we had actually been to Alaska and that we had driven these cars.

After lunch, we were set for an easy drive the rest of the way into Fort Nelson. We had passed the high point, right? Unfortunately, they didn't mention the climb at Steamboat Creek Bridge. We stopped at this rustic gas station/campground/cafe/motel place (see pictures below) and, when we pulled out, immediately started an uphill climb. This climb went on for miles, getting steeper and steeper, as it swept around the edges of the mountain. (The interesting thing is that this is the improved road; the old one was steeper and with more curves. It wasn't a frightening climb, just a long and very slow one. We stopped at the top and congratulated each other for making it. Then we started down and that was where it got scary. The grade down was at 10% and, partway down, Jennifer came over the radio and said that her floorboards had slipped and were blocking the brake. In a Model T, you don't use your brake often but when you need it, you don't need a piece of wooden board in your way. Ben and Nancy and Joyce and Ken were in the lead and had no choice but to go on down. Jennifer pulled off into a pull-out and Ross and Ginger stopped with her to fix the floor. We waited at the bottom for them to come on down. And we waited. When they finally drove into sight, we rushed over to see what had taken them so long. It seemed some guy in an MG had pulled into the same stop and started asking questions about the cars and the tour and did we really drive all the way from Texas and they had been talking with him!

The drive into Fort Nelson brought a totally different kind of landscape than we had seen in weeks: open farmland, houses in neighborhoods, paved streets other than the Alaska Highway. We were excited to see that Fort Nelson was actually a town and had a grocery. Joyce, Jennifer, and Nancy hit the IGA and were like kids in a candy store. Fresh fruit! Fresh vegetables! Real meat! We were out of Diet Coke and beer, dog food and bread. You know, the basic necessities of life. They also had a bakery and we had them letter a cake for Ginger. Her birthday on the Dalton Highway to Prudhoe Bay may have been memorable but she had never even had a cake. So, after dinner, we lit the candles (with Ben's new soldering torch) and sang the song and celebrated Ginger's 20th birthday, eleven days late.

728a - The view from the highway along Muncho Lake. Picture this lovely lake, two narrow traffic lanes, and a sheer rock face for eight miles. Bright sunny day, blue sky: do you think I liked this place?


728b - This curious guy is a Stone sheep. He is like a cousin to the Bighorn sheep, a little smaller and a little closer to the ground. We was grazing along the side of the road, licking up the salt water that the road crew had put down to hold down the dust. He wasn't exactly certain he had ever seen anything quite like us before and was wishing he had brought his camera.


728c - This mother caribou and her baby weren't sure they had ever seen anything like us before either but they weren't staying around to take a closer look. We hadn't seen many caribou up close so we were pretty excited to get such a close view of these two. You may be able to see that their coats are a little rough. It looks like they are losing their winter coat for a newer one (but not being very knowledgeable about caribou, they could have just been having a bad hair day).


728d - Ben and Nancy were driving in front and were able to catch a quick picture of this herd of stone sheep running across the highway and up the wash. There were quite a bunch and after the entire group had almost disappeared, one lone sheep came running up from behind and ran across in front of us. Just like people, there is one in every group that dawdles. By the time the others arrived, the little straggler was the only one in sight.


728e - When we stopped for lunch at Summit Lake, many of the other campers and picnickers came by to check out the cars. One was a charming lady from Breckenridge, Texas, named Mary Katherine Sloan. Mrs. Sloan was fascinated by the manifold cooker and Ben was showing her how it works.


728f - Mrs. Sloan had never been in a Model T although she remembered riding in a Model A. We think she could have learned to drive if we'd been driving instead of eating. Mrs. Sloan and her husband used to come hunting in British Columbia years ago and now she was back with her son and granddaughter to go fishing at Muncho Lake.


728g - A second mother and baby caribou scurrying in front of us. You can see the coat molting (would that be the right word?)


728h - We stopped for gas at a this trading post and were delighted to see the old pump still in place. This is Ken and his '22 Touring and Bruce with Ross's roadster.


728i - Near the top of the Steamboat climb! You can see for miles in the distance and for miles down this road. We didn't know what we were in for but saw on the other side that it had been a 10% grade.


728j - When Ross stopped to fix Jennifer's floorboards, her transmission was really hot from braking the descent. He pulled the cover off and this is what he saw. There are stories of the floorboards actually bursting into flame because of the heat of a long hill but Ben claims that they are just stories.


728k - Ross, cruising in at the bottom of Steamboat Pass. We had been waiting with concern as it took them longer to get to the bottom than we expected. See below to see what kept them.


728l - The MG. So, ok, this car could make you forget your parents were waiting for you to get down from the mountain.

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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