Trans-Alaska Pipeline's 40th anniversary celebration

Published: Jun. 22, 2017 at 9:43 PM AKDT
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What is 800 miles long, crosses 3 mountain ranges, is rated to withstand a 5.5 to an 8.5 earthquake, has 178 valves and 78,000 vertical supports, and took 3 years to build? Why it's the Trans Alaska Pipeline System, or TAPS, of course.

And as of June 20th, 2017 TAPS has been successfully operating for 40 years.

As part of the year-long celebration, retired Vice Admiral of the United States Coast Guard and President of Alyeska, Thomas Barrett, visited Fairbanks. At Tuesday's Chamber of Commerce luncheon, Barret discussed the accomplishments, and concerns regarding one of the largest architectural achievements of the 20th century.

Afterwards, Barrett talked about the impact that the pipeline has had on Alaskans.

"As I said in the presentation we have third generation families who are working for us and I think the more fundamental impact of the pipeline is that it provides opportunity for a lot of people. It provides rich opportunities for Alaska Natives in the sense of giving them a chance to participate in the economy and with the Native corps all the way up and down, but to me it's that it allows them to have a life here that they want."

As part of the celebration, Alyeska held a free event open to the public at the Fox Pullout.

Alyeska volunteers, employees, and Fairbanks community members gathered under and near the pipeline to eat burgers provided by Frostbite Foods, tacos from El Pastor, and free root beer floats made by Cold Stone Creamery. DJ ATM put his own spin on music from the construction era. Party goers could even take pictures in a booth from the Alaska Photobooth Company.

The overall feel of the event was a sense of pride.

Pump Station 9 Operation and Maintenance Supervisor, Wes Wilson explains this feeling that is commonly known as TAPS Pride.

"Yeah, TAPS pride. I've worked for 24 years on the pipeline, started on for Alyeska. This has been the greatest job, the greatest opportunity I've ever had. The individuals that I work with, we take so much pride in the original engineering, keeping it safe, maintaining it. You can just see that from all of the folks who work in and outside of TAPS, our contractors, Alyeska folks, and we understand it crosses a majestic portion of the state, it provides revenue for the state, and it touches everyone's life in the state, whether they realize it or not."

To learn more about what it was like to work during construction on TAPS, or about the 40th anniversary, visit

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