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Ketchikan, Alaska, Photo Album

An Explorer's Guide to Ketchikan, Alaska

Historic Postcards of Ketchikan

Click on each photo to enlarge it
These images are all © 2014 by Murray Lundberg.

Mountain scenery south of Ketchikan, Alaska Sailing north towards Ketchikan at dawn, just before 05:00 in early June.

Homes along the southern outskirts of Ketchikan, Alaska Homes along the southern outskirts of Ketchikan in the early morning. Airplanes - particularly float planes - are an important part of life for many Alaskans, and there's 1 airplane for every 78 people in the state (a total of 9,540 planes) - in the United States as a whole, there is 1 airplane per 1,270 people.

U.S. Coast Guard Station at Ketchikan, Alaska The Coast Guard has a large Station at Ketchikan. The Station's primary Search and Rescue asset is the 47-foot Motor Lifeboat - these heavy-weather, multi-mission craft are more suited to the adverse weather and sea conditions that Southeast Alaska dishes out than the 41 foot UTBs previously in service. Several 25-foot Homeland Security Response boats are also based here.

Cruise ship berths at Ketchikan, Alaska Approaching cruise ship Berths 1 and 2 in downtown Ketchikan. Two more berths are ahead and to the left. There are also several small boat harbors, the main one being to the right of this photo. Occasionally there are 5 cruise ships in port - the extra one anchors in the channel and uses tenders to get passengers ashore.

Welcome to Ketchikan, Alaska The most famous and certainly the most photographed city sign in Alaska is the one proclaiming Ketchikan as "Alaska's 1st City" and "The Salmon Capital of the World." The Ketchikan Post Office was established in 1892, but it's called the 1st City because it's the first Alaskan city you see as you cruise north. The first salmon cannery opened in 1886, and by 1912 there were 5 salmon canneries located here.

'The Rock' monument at Ketchikan, Alaska Dave Rubin's bronze monument "The Rock" was unveiled at Berth 1 on Sunday, July 4th, 2010. It features 7 life-size figures from Ketchikan's past: Chief Johnson, a logger, a fisherman, a miner, an aviator, a Native woman drumming, and an elegant lady in her 1890s finery.

Chief Johnson statue at Ketchikan, Alaska Chief Johnson was also known as Skookum Johnson, George Johnson, and Gut Wain or Geet Wain. He was involved in the 1887 migration of several hundred Tsimshian from Old Metlakatla, British Columbia to New Metlakatla on Annette Island, Alaska, and in 1902 became the hereditary chief of the Ganaxadi Tlingit of the Raven moiety of the Tanta Kwan.

Sourdough Bar, Ketchikan, Alaska One of the city's colorful drinking establishments, the Sourdough Bar, has been serving locals and ships passengers since 1933. In May 2014, they voluntarily went smoke-free, a move that got a generally positive response from patrons.

Boat tour at Ketchikan, Alaska The Ketchikan area offers many activities, including Allen Marine's 4½-hour tour into Misty Fiords National Monument, a huge wilderness preserve covering some 2,285,000 acres adjacent to Ketchikan.

Historic First Lutheran Church, Ketchikan, Alaska The First Lutheran Church along the waterfront was designed by architect W. G. Brust of Seattle and was built in 1930 by local builder Carl Foss. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1987. It's common to see bald eagles sitting on the spire surveying their world.

Fire/rescue boat Harry Newell, Ketchikan, Alaska The fire/rescue boat Harry Newell, named for the only member of the Ketchikan Fire Department to lose his life in the line of duty, was delivered to Ketchikan by barge in 1986. With an overall length of 45 feet and beam of 12 feet, the fireboat has a pumping capacity of more than 5,000 gpm through four fire monitors. With two 410hp Detroit Diesel engines, it has a top speed of 30 knots.

Arctic Bar, Ketchikan, Alaska The Arctic Bar has been one of Ketchikan's favorite watering holes since 1937 - it's a great place to meet locals. You'll probably meet Paula, who bought the bar in the late '90s and is a big part of its friendly-but-gritty atmosphere.

Jellyfish at Ketchikan, Alaska Watching jellyfish right from one of the cruise ship docks.

Creek Street , Ketchikan, Alaska Creek Street goes up Ketchikan Creek, but was built on pilings right over the creek rather than blasting away the rocky cliffs along the creek. Visiting Creek Street is one of the most popular things to do in Ketchikan - as well as the unique nature of the street itself, it offers several shops, and Dolly's House Museum, which takes you back the days when there were some 20 bawdy houses along the street.

Ketchikan Creek, Alaska Creek Street ends at a gorge where Ketchikan Creek returns to its natural state. The salmon ladder here is one of the best places in the state to watch salmon fighting their way upstream to spawn.

Funicular at Ketchikan, Alaska From the end of Creek Street, you can ride the funicular up to Cape Fox Lodge for a great view, a coffee or meal, or to see more totem poles - including the Council of the Clans Totem Pole Circle, 6 poles that were carved by Lee Wallace, standing in front of the lodge.

Stairs at Ketchikan, Alaska From the lodge, you can take these stairs back down to Park Avenue to continue your touring. Because of the topography, there are a lot of stairs in Ketchikan!

The Deer Mountain Tribal Hatchery & Eagle Center - Ketchikan, Alaska I was very disappointed to discover while writing the notes for this album that the Deer Mountain Tribal Hatchery & Eagle Center was closed in 2013 due to a reduction in federal funding that the operation had been receiving. The hatchery produced king and silver salmon and steelhead trout, and the tours were excellent.

Bald eagle at the Deer Mountain Tribal Hatchery & Eagle Center, Ketchikan, Alaska All of the birds at the Deer Mountain Tribal Hatchery & Eagle Center were transferred to the raptor center in Sitka.

Totem Heritage Center, Ketchikan, Alaska The Totem Heritage Center, established in 1976, displays and interprets 19th century totem poles that were retrieved from abandoned Tlingit and Haida village sites near Ketchikan. There are not many places where you can see original totem poles, and anyone interested in Southeast Alaska Native cultures should consider the center to be a "must-see".

Totem Heritage Center, Ketchikan, Alaska As well as the original totem poles, the Totem Heritage Center also has a large collection of both original and reproduction Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian crafts, including the famous button blankets and masks. During the fall, winter, and spring, the center offers a variety of classes and workshops in Northwest Coast Native art and culture.

American Legion Post 3, Ketchikan, Alaska I find Ketchikan to be a fun city to explore. Behind the American Legion Post 3, whose level lot was carved out of the granite hillside, you can see that the road is built on stilts.

Old house at Ketchikan, Alaska Many of the homes in Ketchikan, like this old-timer on Park Avenue, are not for the faint of heart!

Totem Bight - Ketchikan, Alaska The oldest and still the main site for viewing and learning about totem poles is Totem Bight State Historical Park, where 14 copies of original Tlingit and Haida totem poles and a replica clan house stand. What is now Totem Bight park is a project that dates back to 1938, when the U.S. Forest Services started salvaging and reconstructing totem poles from abandoned sites.

Totem Bight - Ketchikan, Alaska This octopus, often termed "devilfish" in early accounts, is at the base of the Land Otter Pole, a Haida pole carved in 1947 by John Wallace from Hydaburg. Octopi are important totem crests of the Tlingit and Haida, and there are Devilfish clans as subclans of the Raven moiety.

Totem Bight - Ketchikan, Alaska Although a clan house was probably never built at what was called Mud Bight, as it was just a fish camp, this replica is typical of the ones that existed up and down the coast in every permanent village. It has one large room with a central fireplace surrounded by a planked platform, and could have housed between 30 and 50 people - several families of a particular lineage, presided over by a house chief.

Beachcombing at Totem Bight - Ketchikan, Alaska For me, Totem Bight isn't just a great place to go for totem poles, it's also a great place to go tidepooling - the large rocky beach along Tongass Narrows offers, in particular, intertidal pools where a large number of marine plant and animals species can be found, as well as the odd artifact from Ketchikan's heydays as a forestry center.

Launching a float plane at Ketchikan, Alaska Looking down from the back of a cruise ship at a de Havilland Beaver float plane being launched at the Island Wings base. Most of the flightseeing trips at Ketchikan go into Misty Fiords National Monument, but bear viewing trips are also popular, and fishing and commercial charters keep the large number of float planes based at Ketchikan busy when the cruise ships leave.

Alaska State ferry sails south from Ketchikan, Alaska An Alaska State ferry sails south from Ketchikan, down the incredibly scenic Marine Highway. Ketchikan, located on Revillagigedo Island, has no road access to the rest of the continent - to drive anywhere, your vehicle has to go on a ferry first.

Misty Fiords National Monument, Alaska The proclamation of December 1, 1978 that established Misty Fiords National Monument begins with this statement: "Misty Fiords is an unspoiled coastal ecosystem containing significant scientific and historical features unique in North America. It is an essentially untouched two million-acre area in the Coast Mountains of Southeast Alaska within which are found nearly all of the important geological and ecological characteristics of the region, including the complete range of coastal to interior climates and ecosystems in a remarkably compact area."

Misty Fiords National Monument, Alaska Only from the air can you really get an idea of how vast, how rugged and how unspoiled by man Misty Fiords National Monument is. Even by air, you can only see a tiny part of it in a couple of hours.

Misty Fiords National Monument, Alaska Some float plane operators land on a remote lake in Misty Fiords National Monument, turn off the airplane's engine, and let you soak up the grandeur in silence. This is making memories, Alaska style!

New Eddystone Rock, Alaska New Eddystone Rock is a glacier-carved, 237 foot (72 meter) high pillar of basalt in Behm Canal, originally formed by a volcanic vent millions of years ago. It was named in 1793 by Captain Vancouver because of its resemblance to the lighthouse rock off Plymouth, England (Smeaton's lighthouse).

Aerial view of Ketchikan, Alaska Ketchikan from the air - Creek Street is at the head of the small boat harbor in the foreground, Cape Fox Lodge is the green-roofed complex at centre right, the airport on Gravina Island in the distant centre.

Ketchikan, Alaska, as seen from Gravina Island, on approach to the airport Ketchikan as seen from Gravina Island, on approach to the airport.

Tongass Narrows, Ketchikan, Alaska The view from the bow of a cruise ship sailing north from Ketchikan, up Tongass Narrows. The airport is to the left.

Ketchikan International Airport (KTN), Alaska Ketchikan International Airport (KTN) is located on Gravina Island and is only accessible by ferries running across Tongass Narrows. An extremely controversial plan to build a massive $400 million bridge to the airport, often called "The Bridge to Nowhere", is currently shelved, though the $25 million Gravina Island Highway to access it ("The Road to Nowhere"), was built in 2008.

Ketchikan International Airport (KTN), Alaska The single paved runway at the Ketchikan International Airport, 11/29, is 7,500 x 150 feet in size. In 2011, the airport had 15,959 aircraft operations, mostly air taxis, with Alaska Airlines to Seattle being the primary scheduled jet route.

Lumber mill at Ketchikan, Alaska The processing of trees into pulp and lumber was for many years one of the two main employers in Ketchikan, the other being the fishing industry. The largest forest-industry employer, Ketchikan Pulp Company, closed in March 1997, and only a handful of the dozens of lumber mills that used to operate are still in business. Empty mill sites can be seen at several places along Tongass Narrows.

Raw log exports at Ketchikan, Alaska This is one of the reasons for the decline of the forest industry's significance to Ketchikan - the export of raw logs.

Guard Island Lighthouse, Ketchikan, Alaska Guard Island Lighthouse, one of the most accessible lighthouses in Alaska, sits on the larger of a pair of small, rocky islets at the northern entrance to Tongass Narrows. In 1924, the dilapidated wooden light tower which had been built in 1903 was replaced with the reinforced concrete, single-story, rectangular tower that still stands. The rotten and vandalized lighthouse keepers' dwellings were demolished in the late 1960s.