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Theresa O'Kelley
Theresa O'Kelley

Theresa O'Kelley was interviewed on November 4, 2006 by Jessica Brooks and Marie Mitchell at the Sourdough Express offices in Fairbanks, Alaska. In this interview, Theresa provides a history of the Sourdough Express business, and talks about the challenges of operating a trucking business on the Dalton Highway (Haul Road). She also talks about tough conditions the truck drivers face, the community of truckers, conflict with visitors and animals on the road, and issues surrounding trucker communication and road maintenance.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2006-28-21

Project: Dalton Highway Project Jukebox
Date of Interview: Nov 4, 2006
Narrator(s): Theresa O'Kelley
Interviewer(s): Jessica Brooks, Marie Mitchell
Location of Interview:
Funding Partners:
National Park Service
Alternate Transcripts
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1) History of Sourdough Express

2) Winter driving conditions and truckers who drive on the road

3) Hauling freight on the Dalton Highway

4) Sourdough Express business

5) Conditions, challenges and risks of the Dalton Highway

6) Truck driver relationships, community, costs of trucks, difficulties of the road, and problems with tourists and animals

7) Communication among truckers, issues with tourists, opening the Dalton Highway to the public, maintenance of the highway, and her family

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Section 1: Fairbanks, Alaska\ Sourdough Express -- history of\ Prudhoe Bay, Alaska\ 1981 -- began employment\ employment -- duties of\ trucking industry\ pipeline -- reconstruction of\ Alaska Railroad\ Dalton Highway -- conditions of\ Hill Top, Alaska\ Dalton Highway -- distance of\ trucking -- schedules of\ ice roads -- building of\ oil exploration\ oil drilling\ road construction\ road support|

Section 2: winter -- road conditions\ cold weather -- issues of\ truck drivers -- communication with\ Cold Foot, Alaska -- halfway point\ Prudhoe Bay, Alaska\ gold mine -- history\ Dalton Highway -- tourists\ Hill Top, Alaska\ Cantwell, Alaska\ Anchorage, Alaska\ truck driver --  training of\ Dalton Highway -- learning of\ trucking industry -- advertising of\ truck driver -- Wyoming\ truck driver -- Montana\ truck driver -- Colorado\ truck driver -- Oregon|

Section 3: truck -- haul pipe\ truck driver -- training of\ Prudhoe Bay, Alaska\ pilot cars -- use of\ truck driver -- convoy of|

Section 4: Sourdough Express -- company\ Sourdough Express -- history of\ Prudhoe Bay, Alaska\ Sourdough Express -- size of\ customers -- communication with\ competitors\ Sourdough Express -- history of\ Cold Foot, Alaska -- mail delivery\ coal business\ fuel business\ dog freight -- trails\ Dalton Highway -- building of\ Dalton Highway -- challenges of\ truck drivers -- issues of\ truck drivers -- backgrounds of\ New York\ California\ Fairbanks, Alaska\ Prudhoe Bay, Alaska\ Dalton Highway -- conditions of\ Alaska State budget -- issues of\ road maintenance -- issues of\ trucks -- servicing of|

Section 5: Dalton Highway -- building of\ Fairbanks, Alaska\ Yukon River -- issues of\ ice bridges\ Atigun Pass -- difficulties of\ Arctic Circle -- conditions\ Arctic -- animals\ road -- conditions\ Valdez, Alaska\ Prudhoe Bay, Alaska\ pump stations -- services of\ radio contact\ wrecks --- serious\ wrecks -- fatalities\ Hill Top, Alaska -- memorial\ Cordova, Alaska\ Sourdough Express -- company\ truck driver -- risk of\ weather -- challenges of|

Section 6: truck driver -- mentoring\ truck driver -- retirement\ employment -- opportunities\ truck driver -- lack of\ truck -- expense of\ Fairbanks, Alaska\ Coldfoot, Alaska -- half-way point\ Atigun Pass -- Dalton Highway\ truck driver -- safety of\ truck driver -- skills\ road -- learning\ Dalton Highway -- challenges of\ weather -- challenges of\ tourist -- issues of\ road -- dangers of|

Section 7: truck driver -- radio communication\ CB radio -- use of\ Fox, Alaska\ Hill Top, Alaska\ Coldfoot, Alaska\ truck driver -- tourist problems\ tourist -- issues of\ Fairbanks, Alaska\ Prudhoe Bay, Alaska\ Dalton Highway -- preparations for\ Dalton Highway -- haul road\ Dalton Highway -- public highway\ Dalton Highway -- maintenance of\ truck driver -- fatigue\ truck driver -- conditions\ trucking industry -- rule and regulations of\ personal background -- family|