Historic Sites - Watson Lake
A different kind of highway sign
One of Watson Lake’s most iconic attractions began during the construction of the historic Alaska Highway, when a lonely American soldier posted a sign pointing in the direction of home. Over the decades, others followed adding signs pointing to locations all around the world. The site became what is known as the Sign Post Forest. Now with more than 90,000 signs, the only one that’s missing is yours.
The colourful Sign Post Forest is unique, quirky and endearing, and that’s just the start of the historic places in Watson Lake. Stop by the Visitor Information Centre to learn about the town’s Alaska Highway heritage. Displays and a presentation explain what a daunting feat construction of the highway was, and why this wartime route was considered so important.
Take the short drive to the Watson Lake Airport to see the photogenic BC-Yukon Air Service hangar. Part of the US Army’s World War II lend-lease program, it’s the last military hangar of its kind in Canada. Right next door is the log-sided Watson Lake Air Terminal Building, originally built in 1942 as a refueling station for US military. Visitors can view photo exhibits of this critical time in history and imagine war planes parked on the runway outside.
While a log exterior seems a unique choice for an airport, it fit right in at the time. Dozens of log buildings were built as barracks for the US and Canadian militaries, along with shops and other facilities. Some of these sturdy structures were later moved into town and are still in use today, including Watson Lake’s oldest building, the historic Air Force Lodge. Stroll through town, and you’ll also spot churches, a general store, an auto service shop and other log buildings restored or built during or shortly after the war—fitting considering the role this period played in Watson Lake’s origins.