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Tuesday
Sep222009

Highway to Russia (1959)

The March 3, 1959 edition of Arthur Radebaugh's Closer Than We Think depicts a highway to Russia, as imagined by Senator Warren G. Magnuson. According to Wikipedia, (the only source for anything that my generation might care about) this was not a new idea. Joseph Strauss, designer of the Golden Gate Bridge, proposed something similar for railroads in the 1890s.

Sen. Magnuson of Washington has a bold new idea for linking our newest state, Alaska, with Siberia via a bridge or vehicular tunnel across the 30- to 40-mile stretch of shallow waters of the Bering Strait. It would go from Wales, on the tip of Seward Peninsula, to Little Diomede and Big Diomede Islands, thence to Peyak, Siberia.

The Senator forecasts this hook-up within the lifetime of the present generation, to create a rail and highway route between points as distant as New York and Paris. "I am convinced," he says, "that the tourists who one day will drive this route will be our best ambassadors!"

Next week: Plastic Schoolhouses

Previously on Paleo-Future:

 

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    The usage of the name takes her back to a place where she was the best thing walking and when her albums were actually selling. I ran to my laboratory and got my metal detector out of its box in the closet.
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    Paleofuture - Paleofuture Blog - Highway to Russia (1959)

Reader Comments (12)

That tunnel looks absolutely terrifying. One dragged anchor or terrorist bomb, and you have a 30- to 40-mile tube full of drowned tourists. And imagine how cold it would be inside (or how much energy it would take to heat it)! Still, I can just imagine packing up the family car for that summer vacation to sunny Siberia...

September 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAaron T.

Eh, seems to be working for the Channel Tunnel, which is over 30 miles long. Of course, the Chunnel isn't made of plastic/glass/quartz/whatever and sitting on the sea-bed either...

September 23, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterdocarrol

Yeah, I immediately thought of terrorism, too, but also know the success of the Chunnel. I think this would still be a great idea...but for trains, and not in plastic.

September 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMHR

But where would the tourists from Alaska go to in Siberia? Or would the USSR set things up for them in order to get those imperialist dollars?

A crazy but still awesome idea. Our future ideas are so lame by comparison. They are about as bold as picking daises.

September 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge Jetson

How about the idea in Arthur C. Clarke's 1978 novel The Fountains of Paradise - no, not the space elevator, anybody can do that - but the plan to make a bridge from Spain to Africa across the Pillars of Hercules.

September 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge Jetson

Speaking as an Alaskan, the idea isn't entirely dead. We have a former state legislator who repeatedly brings it up, as do other folks. Recently, the state DOT released a report detailing the cost and possible routes of a road to Nome, which would have to be the first step in any transportation link.

Links:
Column supporting construction of the transport link
DOT releases report on Nome road

September 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJ. Brooks

The History Channel had a series called "Extreme Engineering" about futuristic engineering projects. A bridge across the Bering Straight was a project which seemed the most feasible with current technology. The problem is that such a bridge will be thousands of miles away from significant population centers so there's not an economic justification.

September 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLurker

Moving Siberian Oil via pipeline to Alaska and thence to the rest of N.Am? It's true that Alaska has some oil, but the Russian reserves are far large and better developed, so there might be some price advantages that way, and I suppose it's possible that could constitute sufficient "economic justification" for building something like that. And long pipelines, even undersea, have a long and mostly successful history. I'm not sure that being dependent on Russian oil is much better than being dependent on oil from the Middle East, but at least it's *a* difference.

Aside from that, I suppose you could transship freight and raw materials one way or the other, that's typically the most profitable use of rail transport, though I don't know if the markets support it. Maybe if you continued the rail line in Russia down into China, and SE Asia?

I'd say transportation of people and tourists would be unlikely to ever by sufficient justification by itself. Still, historical and anthropological evidence would suggest that a major new trade route would tend to attract new population centers, and grow and support existing ones. People and businesses will follow the money, if there is any.

September 25, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterdocarrol

Or would the USSR set things up for them in order to get those imperialist dollars? - Not worth the efforts.
And, Umm - It is actually Russian Far East, not Siberia

October 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterElena

I think the idea is better if it is built of concrete like most chunnels. The idea will designed like a chunnel in Norway. The idea will have light.

October 9, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua Ramey

most interesting posting. i liked it. :-)

bathmate

December 27, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterbathmate

a bridge to nowhere but it will be built someday, just not in my lifetime

March 25, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterdavid n

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