Jack Binder has braved Alaska’s famed Dalton Highway since it opened in 1974.
Now 68, Binder, a 50-year truck driver, recently retired from his CDL driver job. As he looks back on his driving achievements, he relishes the opportunity he’s had to master Alaska’s harsh conditions.
Newsminer.com captured the highlights of Binder’s career in a nice feature story.
“It’s a career that’s paid me well and given me a lot of independence,” Binder told the publication.
Originally from Bemidji, Minnesota, he first came to Fairbanks at age 18 to drive a cement mixing truck during the summer construction season.
“I came up here in ’68 and Alaska got in my blood,” Binder said. “It’s sort of hard to explain. It was a frontier atmosphere and it was an adventure coming up here.”
During the Vietnam War, Binder worked as a translator.
He missed Alaska, so in 1972 he returned there to drive a cement mixer in the summer months. It was the start of a long career in Alaska.
Binder’s father was a truck driver, too, and when the Alyeska Pipeline and the Dalton Highway opened in 1974, the father-son duo moved to Fairbanks to drive for the now-defunct Weaver Brothers truck company and deliver supplies to the camps in the North Slope oil fields.
“I fell in love with trucks at an early age. He and I were really close. I suppose I was following in his footsteps,” Binder said of his father. “I grew up with this idea that truck drivers were kings of the road and they’d stop and help everyone.”
The Dalton Highway was different then.
It was only open to commercial vehicles, the road wasn’t as straight and there was no bridge spanning the Yukon.
It was in hauling bridge beam pipes for the construction of the E.L. Patton Yukon Bridge that he fell in love with trucking.
“It just got in the blood,” he said. “Trucking is something that is easy to get into and difficult to get away from.”
However, Binder, now retired from his trucking job, has gotten away from it. But he hasn’t gone far. He decided to become a mentor and trainer at Alaska West Express, where he’s worked the last 13 years.
“It’s been a rewarding career and I guess I’m ready to be off the road,” Binder said. “It’s nice to be home every night.”
Read the rest of the story here.
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