July 24, 2007

A photographic tribute to northern transportation...

This is by no means an exhaustive collection of all forms of northern transportation, since it does not include such timeless and important transportation methods as skin boats and canoes, scows and skiffs, steamboats, float planes, dog teams, snow machines and bombardiers, etc. Regardless, I hope you enjoy the following photographs, taken over this past week.

Ah, the mighty little Cessna. Not so great at hauling freight like its larger cousins, the Twin Otter or Beaver, the Cessna is perfect for those trips when a few passengers need to get from A to B. The 206 (above) may seem small to you, but after you've flown in a 172 with your winter coat on, it will suddenly seem huge! This picture was taken at the Fort Simpson Airport, Northwest Territories.

Sometimes, you've got to wonder what people are thinking. Many, many trees gave themselves up so this raft could be made. For some reason, there is a contingent of people who are obsessed with rafting down the Yukon River. It might have something to do with an obsession to re-enact history, but I don't see anyone trying to travel down the river in a moose-skin boat. This picture was taken just outside of Carcross, Yukon.

Question: What is wrong with this windshield?
Non-northern Answer: Look at all those cracks! It needs to be replaced. It could be dangerous.
Northern Answer: There should be something dangling from the rear view mirror, but otherwise, there's nothing wrong with the windshield. Sure, it's a little cracked, but I can still see out of it and what would be the point of getting a new one? It'll just get cracked again in a week or two.

It's true when people talk about the rivers being the highways of the north. Sure, there are a lot of roads now, but some communities still depend on the rivers for transportation. There is nothing quite so exciting as being on the last boat trip before freeze-up, when the ice is drifting in the water and it's thudding against the hull of the boat. These pictures were taken from the Nahanni Butte river taxi.

Communities along waterways who don't have all-season or seasonal access roads may need the services of a barge. Nearly every northern community has stories of sea lifts or barges and about what an exciting time it is when they arrive. This one decided to make a Hollywood entrance, emerging from the fog on the river like a ghost ship. These pictures were taken in Nahanni Butte. The barge was delivering heavy equipment for the construction of a fuel tank farm. (No, they're not farming fuel tanks - the tanks are for storing fuel during the summer months when fuel supply vehicles cannot get into the community.)

Most of the community turned up to watch. I have pictures of it, but I thought that this one gives the best sense of scale. The mosquitoes were out in force, but they didn't deter people from the all the excitement.

As the heavy equipment was unloaded, a new machine - one that had never been in the community before - drew the most interest. The crane couldn't drive up the boat launch under its own steam so it was chained to a large Cat, which did most of the work.

And if rafts and barges aren't exciting enough for you, you can always take a ride in a small helicopter. It's in the following picture somewhere; it's the one that's about as big as Nahanni Butte's spring-time mosquitoes.

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