Taylor Highway

Taylor Highway History

 View from the highway of the historic Pedro Dredge No. 4 in Chicken with 5,059-foot (1,542 m) Taylor Mountain in the background.
 Taylor Highway and mountains near Mount Fairplay
 Taylor Highway near Mount Fairplay.
The Taylor Highway is a route through gold mining history. Before the famous 1897 Klondike Gold Rush in Canada, prospectors found gold in the Fortymile region of Alaska. As early as 1881, gold-bearing gravels were valued at $20,000 a ton in the North Fork of the Fortymile River. Discoveries in 1886 on Franklins Bar on the Fortymile River set off Interior Alaska's first gold rush. Communities such as Jack Wade, Chicken, Franklin, and Steele Creek rose almost overnight, foreshadowing the area's reputation as one of the richest goldfields in the Yukon River basin.

After the initial gold discoveries, miners quickly wore a series of trails between Eagle and the mining towns and camps. These trails later became wagon roads that, in turn, became parts of the Taylor Highway. Construction began during the winter of 1945-1946 and was completed in 1951. Aside from the pavement recently laid from Tetlin Junction to Chicken, travelers today find a rugged, isolated road little changed since its opening.

Want to Learn More?

Several booklets in BLM's "Adventures in the Past" series recount Fortymile history with photos and maps. Download these publications below or contact us for a copy.

Early Miners of the Fortymile (PDF, 723 KB)
Eagle - Fort Egbert (PDF, 1.2 MB)
Eagle - Valdez Trail (PDF, 649 KB)