Segments in this Video

Planning the Alaska Pipeline (06:52)


Oil discovered on Prudhoe Bay in the Alaskan frontier led to a national debate about a pipeline planned to transport the oil. Historian Joe Pratt explains the multitudes of environmental and engineering concerns which were not addressed initially by oil companies. Stewart Brandborg of the Wilderness Society discusses the fight that took place between the environmentalists, the American government, and the oil industry.

Getting Pipeline Approval (06:50)

Alaskans counted on the pipeline for a much needed economic boom as America’s poorest state, but the Department of the Interior still had to approve the project. Geologist Art Lachenbruch had doubts about the engineering of the pipeline plans. While waiting on approval from Congress, the energy crisis pushed the project into approval.

Preparing for Pipeline Construction (07:26)

Due to the plans being delayed by environmentalists and the government, investors of the pipeline pressured Alyeska to complete the 800-mile line in three years; the pipeline travels directly through an arctic tundra. Frank Moolin tirelessly led the project after completing San Francisco’s rapid transportation system known as BART.

Pipeline Teamsters, Truckers, and Welders (07:27)

The town of Fairbanks saw a rise in organized crime and gambling as the pipeline project began because people from all over the country and the world wanted a piece of the economic boom. Women entered the construction industry for the first time due to affirmative action. Diane Benson talks about her experience as a female trucker along the pipeline.

Drugs, Alcohol, and Equipment in Camps (07:13)

The highly skilled welders controlled the pace of the pipeline project and Moolin would bend to their will to keep them on task. Pipeline laborer Todd Hoener recalls the arctic landscape during the constant darkness and freezing temperatures of winter. Equipment challenges and drugs and alcohol threatened productivity.

Completing the Pipeline (09:19)

Extreme cold halted the project as the media reported many of the welds done previously may be faulty due to a quality control oversight; over a thousand of the welds must be redone and half are under rivers or buried. Frank Lumen, the most senior welder, offered to work with Hugh Leslie on the most dangerous portion of the line passing over Thompson Pass.

Alaska's Future (04:28)

The pump station begins moving oil several months after the completion of the pipeline; Byron Mallott explains the indigenous people of Alaska suffered a great sense of loss after the controversial pipeline divided the land. The Trans-Alaska pipeline system changed the face of Alaska forever, and also created America’s largest and most impactful oil spill.

Credits: The Alaska Pipeline (00:45)

Credits: The Alaska Pipeline

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American Experience: The Alaska Pipeline

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After a decade-long search for oil in Alaska's wilderness, gas burst up out of an exploratory well on the North Slope. It was soon calculated that as much as ten billion barrels of oil lay below the frozen tundra of Prudhoe Bay. For over three years, workers battled brutal Arctic weather to construct an eight hundred mile pipeline. The men, machines and money the pipeline brought to Alaska would forever transform America's last great wilderness.

Length: 53 minutes

Item#: BVL151068

Copyright date: ©2006

Closed Captioned

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