The bronze statue that stands inside the gate to the Alyeska Pipeline Terminal shows five people who represent the workforce that built the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. In October of 1975, construction activity on the pipeline peaked. During that month just over 28,000 people were employed on the project. They worked as laborers, engineers, administrators, office workers, drivers, communications specialists, electricians, drillers and in many other professional, skilled and unskilled positions. Over the entire course of pipeline construction from 1969-1977, approximately 70,000 people were employed on the project.
The statue’s creator, Malcolm Alexander, attempted to show at least some of the many faces of the pipeline’s workforce. For example, he included a woman teamster. During pipeline construction the percentage of women on the workforce ranged from 5% to 10%. This was a time when the modern women’s movement was gaining momentum. About half of the women working on the project held non-traditional blue-collar jobs.
The statue also includes an Alaska Native worker. Minority workers made up 14-19% of the workforce.
Many people on the workforce came from outside of Alaska. However, Alaskans were also employed on the project. A number of local Valdezans went to work in the pipe yard, as teamsters, and on the construction of the terminal facility itself.
Where are the people who helped build the pipeline today? Many, of course, remained in Alaska, including Valdez. The Valdez Museum has gathered information from former pipeline workers from far and wide, from Yokohama, Japan, to Hebron, Connecticut — and many, many other places.