Viktoria Ciostek , Dalton Highway Construction Pilot Car, 2012; giclee on paper; Courtesy of the Artist
The Dalton Highway, also known as the North Slope Haul Road, is a 414 mile stretch of road in northern Alaska. Built to support the transport of supplies to the Prudhoe Bay oil fields at its terminus and the great Trans-Alaska Pipeline System that it parallels, it is one of the most isolated and dangerous roads in the United States. Only 3 towns exist along its path, housing no more than 13 to 25 residents in each town. Extreme caution must be exercised when navigating the road as it slices past the Arctic Circle through the Brooks Mountain range into desolate tundra, an unforgiving landscape that demands that plants and animals must be extremely resilient to survive.
Upon reaching the roads end at Deadhorse, the gateway to Prudhoe Bay and the Arctic Ocean, the beautiful nature of the landscape completely dissolves leaving nothing but a maze of metal and machinery. Oil wells, tankers, pump stations, liquid nitrogen plants, flow stations, automatic blowup preventers, gathering stations, pipe layers, and prefab trailers run from camp to camp-plots belonging to the various oil companies that lease the land for consumption. Flames burning natural gas soar in the distance and despite the movement of trucks and distinct sounds of the crude oil harvest, the settlement is as desolate and cold as the surrounding terrain. With billions of dollars of infrastructure and 5000-6000 gallons of oil being pumped a day, it is a chaos that is shocking to witness.