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They called it The Arctic Circle War. It was a manhunt the likes of which we will never see again. The quarry, Albert Johnson, was a loner working a string of traps in the far reaches of Canada's Northwest Territories, where winter temperatures average forty degrees below zero.
The chase began when a Mountie came to ask Johnson about allegations that he had interfered with a neighbor's trap. No questions were asked. Johnson shot Officer Millen dead through a hole in the wall of his log cabin. A vicious firefight ensued. When the Mounties returned with reinforcements, Johnson was gone, and The Arctic Circle War had begun.
It was a forty-eight-day odyssey across the harshest terrain in the world. On Johnson's heels were a corps of Mounties and an irregular posse on dogsled, supplied by airplanes dropping food. Johnson, on snowshoes, seemed superhuman in his ability to evade capture. The chase stretched for hundreds of miles, and during a blizzard crossed the Richardson Mountains, the northernmost extension of the Rockies. It culminated in the historic shootout at Eagle River.
There will never be another chase like it.
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