This year the Alaska pipeline celebrates its 40th birthday. The project started in 1977 and cost $ 8 billion to complete in then year dollars. This engineering marvel snakes its way from Prudhoe Bay on the North Slope all the way down the state to the southern port of Valdez in Prince William Sound, a total of 800 miles.
During my recent trip I was fortunate to bookend the pipeline with stops in Prudhoe Bay and Valdez.
The zig-zag design of the pipeline mitigates expansion and contraction due to temperature changes as well as to reduce vulnerability to earthquakes.
During our drive from Fairbanks to Valdez, the pipeline was our constant companion as it paralleled the Richardson Highway.