Watson Lake

Watson Lake, 1886 km from Calgary

The next and last stop on the journey to Whitehorse was the town of Watson Lake located just a few kilometres inside the Yukon side of the Yukon / British Columbia border. Watson Lake is famous for having one of the most known landmarks along the Alaska Highway: the Signpost Forest.

The Signpost Forest was started by an American GI working on the Alaska Highway in 1942: Private Carl K. Lindley, who served with the 341st Engineers. One day as he was working a truck accidentally ran over his foot and while he was recuperating, he took a can of paint, some wood and posted a sign pointing to his home town in Danville, Illinois. Other soldiers too added their home town signs and the idea has been going ever since.

At last count there were over 42,000 signs in the Signpost Frost and the number is increasing daily. This makes finding signs in the two acre “forest” a nightmare and I could only find a sign or two from Nova Scotia until we were driving away; from the car I saw a huge Pictou County Sign on the edge of the forest — a street sign added to the collection of signs from around the world. If you look closely in one of the photos below there is a Dartmouth city limits sign!

Speaking of which, it is amazing what people have managed to bring with them as signs from their home town. To have a 10 foot sign from the German autobahn in the forest must have taken an amazing feat of organization. Mike (who was travelling with us) has family in New Zealand. Two members of his family had a sign specifically made for the forest and their whole town pitched in and sent the couple to Watson Lake to post it. We did manage to find the sign, which is just above.

Other signs can be found on toilet seats, dinner plates, licence plates, etc. If you can think of it, I am sure it is there. As a note of interest, to celebrate the 50 year anniversary of the forest, Carl Lindsay and his wife visited the area in 1992 to see what has become of his creation. He died on Feb. 20, 2002 in Danville, aged 83.

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