Route of the LEDO ROAD

  The Ledo Road, new supply route to China, is a graveled surface highway approximately 460 miles long and 20 feet wide running from the town of Ledo, Province of Assam, India, through the Patkai Mountains of northern Burma to the Chinese town of Wanting on the Burma border. It is constructed chiefly on an earth bench, has a maximum grade of 10 percent, has more than 200 bridges, 35 of which have a span of more than 100 feet, and for a large part follows a route reminiscent of the Rocky Mountain and Great Basin areas of the United States. American engineers, aided by Chinese and Indians and often preceded by combat troops who took care of the Japs, began actual construction work on the huge project in January 1943. The following facts and figures are only mild reminders of the incredible scientific and human problems confronted by the men who incessantly pushed the project through some of the toughest territory in the world and achieved the impossible despite monsoon rains, blazing summer heat, malaria and a thousand other obstacles hitherto all but known to American men.

  Proceeding from Ledo, 600 feet above sea level, the road follows a short northeasterly course for approximately 10 miles to a point dubbed "Tokyo Corner," where it takes an abrupt turn southward and continues in a southeasterly direction, heading for the forbidding peaks of the Patkai Mountain range and the India-Burma border. At mile-point 38.50, it crosses through the Pangsau Pass (elev. 4000 ft.) into Burma.

  From Pangsau Pass it goes generally southeast through mountainous country covered with thick evergreen forests, dipping from heights of 3500 feet to less than 1500 feet, and topped off by the climb to Tagap Ga at the 80 miles mark, which is 4800 feet above sea level. The road continues south to Shingbwiyang (Mile 102) going all the way on a sharp decline. Shingbwiyang, which stands at the entrance to the Hukawng Valley in northern Burma, has an elevation of approximately 650 feet.

  Cutting eastward from Shingbwiyang through the low, level Hukawng Valley, which is practically inundated during the monsoon, the Ledo Road encounters the headwaters of the Upper Chindwin River. This river provides the large, basin-shaped Hukawng Valley with its only drainage outlet. A narrow defile conducts the waters of the many streams and rivers coursing through the valley into the Upper Chindwin. During the monsoon season when the torrential downpour swells these streams and rivers to floodtide, the defile becomes a bottleneck, with the resultant formation of a large lake. The first three major river crossings appear in rapid succession in this region. At Mile 122, the Tarung Hka (River) is spanned by a bridge of some 964 feet. After this crossing an almost perpendicular turn southward about midway between the Tarung Hka and the Tawang Hka, another major span, about 865 feet, crosses the Tawang Hka, 17 miles past the Tarung Hka bridge. A third large bridge, measuring 606 feet, crosses the Tanai River, 7 miles farther south. There are also numerous minor bridges over the many smaller streams and rivers which cross the path of the road.

  Turning a little to the west and rising slightly as it continues on south through Tingkawk Sakan (Mile 166) the road enters Shadazup at the 180 mile-point. Leaving Shadazup, which is at the threshold of the Mogaung Valley about 700 feet above sea level, it crosses the Mogaung River near the northeast bend. Now the road enters some very dense jungle country as it proceeds south through the low level Mogaung Valley to Warazup at the 189-mile mark. Here it again crosses the meandering Mogaung River and faces more to the east while it goes into the town of Namti - the 232 mile point. At Namti a stream bearing the same name is crossed and the Ledo Road meets a combat road utilized to supply the Chinese and American troops during the siege of Myitkyina in the summer of 1944.

  Continuing through Namti it runs for a few miles alongside the spur of the Mogaung to Mandalay Railway which shunts ???? across to Myitkyina, approximately 40 miles to the east. However, the road doesn't enter Myitkyina as it cuts southeast through rice paddies to a ferry crossing at the Irrawaddy River. Located about 10 miles southwest of Myitkyina, the ferry point marks the 254th mile of the road. Eventually a 1600 ft. bridge will effect the crossing of the Irrawaddy. This area, with an elevation of 500 feet, lies at the foot of a gradual descent from the town of Warazup (Mile 189 in the Mogaung Valley) which is approximately 700 feet above sea level.

  About 15 miles below Myitkyina the Ledo Road joins the old Myitkyina to Bhamo road (Mile 270). This route describes a rough crescent as it runs southeast for the greater part of its distance and then turns a southwest corner into Bhamo. Starting out through low lying paddy fields, it meanders over undulating, forested hill country, dipping once again through low, marshy farm lands and well-foliaged valleys till it reaches Bhamo at approximately Mile 363. It crosses numerous small streams and bridges two sizeable tributaries of the Irrawaddy River. One of these bridges spans the Nam Tabet River at about Mile 280, while the other crossing the Taping River near Myothit, the 340 mile mark. When the road turns southwest into Bhamo (Mile 363) it has descended to approximately 350 feet above sea level.

  Leaving Bhamo, the Ledo Road once again turns southeastward through comparatively low country. However, about 35 miles below Bhamo it encounters a rapid and steep ascent up a 4000 foot peak to the village of Hkalum. Thence it descends to 3500 feet and crosses the Nammak Hka (River). A few miles farther south it crosses the Shwelhi River at a point approximately 2500 feet above sea level. The Shwelhi is spanned by a 450-ft suspension bridge. Continuing from here to Namkhan, about 4 miles away (mile point 420) the road now turns northward and more to the east, looking toward the Burma-China border. Approximately mile 445 it hits the old Burma Road which goes on south to Lashio. From the point where it begins the ascent of the 4000-ft peak to this meeting with the old Burma Road, it has more than 1300 sharp curves within a 46-mile stretch, with frequent precipitate drops at the road edge as it winds its way along the mountainside.

  In the vicinity of the Nam Yang River, about Mile 460, the Burma-China border town of Wanting is reached. Here the Ledo Road will connect with the reconstructed Burma Road running from Kunming, providing a continuous overland all-weather supply route to China.

 The Ledo Road

Route of the LEDO ROAD

Adapted from
Historical Record of the Engineer Section
Construction Service - Services of Supply
United States Army Forces in China-Burma-India
and United States Forces in India-Burma Theater

Document shared by Graham Thompson

Copyright © 2010 Carl W. Weidenburner