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Brett Carlson, Part 2
Brett Carlson

This is the continuation of an interview with Brett Carlson on November 17, 2006 in Fairbanks, Alaska. In this second part of a two part interview, Brett talks about tourism and the lifestyles in Coldfoot, Wiseman and along the Dalton Highway. He discusses the wilderness aspects of the region, operating the Coldfoot Truck Stop, the cooperation of truckers, and landmarks along the highway.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2006-28-04_PT.2

Project: Dalton Highway Project Jukebox
Date of Interview: Nov 17, 2006
Narrator(s): Brett Carlson
Interviewer(s): Marie Mitchell
Location of Interview:
Funding Partners:
National Park Service
Alternate Transcripts
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1) Visitor impressions of Wiseman

2) Arctic environment and natural history

3) Lack of commercialization on the Dalton Highway

4) Truckers on the Haul Road

5) Describing the landmarks and wilderness along the Dalton Highway

6) Story of grizzly bears getting into the building at the Yukon River Camp and Restaurant

7) Providing a unique visitor experience at Coldfoot

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Section 1: Visitors who fly to Coldfoot, and then go on to visit Wiseman, are moved by Wiseman. Visitors feel nostalgic. Most do not believe that there are still places in the world where people live off the land. Others, who never lived the subsistence lifestyle, can't believe it still exists. Some think that Wiseman is a created community - like Disney World. Wiseman is a lifestyle, where people live day-to-day life with nature.
Wiseman -- impressions of\ visitors -- positive reaction\ Wiseman -- subsistence community\ visitors -- disbelief\ Wiseman -- imagination\ Wiseman -- nostalgic feelings|

Section 2: Often Brett has to explain to guests that the Arctic is intense. According to Brett, “Up here, there are only 70 days of green, which means only so much vegetation can grow to support a hardy few people.” There is one moose per square mile. The reality is that wildlife is more spread out and scarce then the public perception.
Arctic region -- description of\ wildlife -- scarce\ vegetation -- scarce\ subsistence resources -- limited\ moose -- population\ public -- perception\ wilderness|

Section 3: The Dalton Highway is a wilderness highway. There is no commercialism and no billboards. 240 miles along the highway is without commercial activities, which is unique. Brett feels it would be a mistake for people to not recognize this uniqueness. The Dalton Highway does not have to have the commercialization; instead create nodes (designated areas) to provide services. For instance, a pipeline camp is less distracting than a McDonald's billboard. In some ways the industrial places are not as obtrusive as commercial enterprises. Another neat quality about Coldfoot is the truckers. Truckers work hard. Some travel 3 times a week. This makes Coldfoot a nice place for them to have a place to stop, visit, eat, and rest.
Dalton Highway -- wilderness\ no commercialism\ no billboards\ unique\ people -- recognition of\ Dalton Highway\ Carlson, Brett -- opinion\ limit commercialization\ nodes -- creation of\ designated areas\ alternate option\ pipeline camp -- less distracting\ industrial nodes -- less obtrusive\ commercial enterprises -- obtrusive\ billboards\ McDonalds signage\ truckers -- Coldfoot\ unique\ hardy\ Coldfoot Truck Stop -- truckers\ services\ amenities|

Section 4: Coldfoot is a community of truckers, which is unique. The truckers may be focused on solitude, but truckers also enjoy getting together and talking (which Coldfoot provides). Truckers do have a spirit of cooperation. Not one trucker would pass a driver if he/ she were stuck alongside of the Haul Road. Most truckers travel as a group, 3 or 4 at a time.
Coldfoot -- truckers\ community\ truckers -- unique\ cooperative\ social\ Coldfoot -- truck stop\ truckers -- convoy\ helpful\ visitors -- attentive to\ awareness of|

Section 5: There is little civilization along the Haul Road. 20 miles from Fairbanks, there are no utilities. Landmarks along the highway: Joy (homestead town), Livengood (mining town), TAPS pipeline, Yukon River, Finger Mountain, Arctic Circle, Prospect Creek, Brooks Mountain Range, and Coldfoot Truck Stop. North of Coldfoot is the most dramatic highway scenery where you drive by the national park until you leave the tree line cross the continental divide and go through Atigun Pass toward the North Slope. Sixty miles south of the Arctic Ocean is flat as a pancake. From no industry to an industrial community like Deadhorse is quite a contrast. Most visitors just want to travel to the Arctic Ocean. Some visitors travel to see the wilderness from Coldfoot to Wiseman to Atigun Pass and stop at Galbraith Lake.
Haul Road -- minimal civilization\ no utilities\ landmarks -- names of\ Joy, Alaska\ Livengood\ TAPS pipeline\ Yukon River\ Finger Mountain\ Arctic Circle\ Prospect Creek\ Brooks Range\ Coldfoot Truck Stop\ National Park System\ Atigun Pass\ Deadhorse, Alaska\ Deadhorse -- industrial community\ contrast\ wilderness -- travel\ route\ description\ Coldfoot\ Wiseman\ Atigun Pass\ Galbraith Lake|

Section 6: Grizzly bear story.
Dalton Highway -- driving\ accidents\ vehicles -- speed\ story -- bear\ bear -- grizzly\ Yukon River\ Yukon River Bridge -- camp\ building -- breaking in\ building -- destruction\ gift shop -- storage room\ clothing -- destroyed\ den -- winter\ bear -- large male\ bear -- old\ bear -- hungry\ food -- lack of\ bear -- behavior\ bear -- report of\ bear -- search for\ building -- entering\ flashlights\ bear -- killing of\ defense of life and property\ clothing -- "Bearly Worn"|

Section 7: Coldfoot is a place where people want to be. Brett feels a big responsibility to manage the Coldfoot Truck Stop and Cafe in a way that provides a better experience, but retains what is unique about the place. He says, "The character of the people are very independent and versatile. One cannot survive doing just one job. People need to be very open-minded to do any job that presents itself in order to live and survive in Coldfoot."
Coldfoot -- unique\ residents -- description of\ independent\ versatile\ unique\ flexible\ jobs -- necessary\ scarce\ Coldfoot -- challenges with|