THE CITY OF KETCHIKAN
Ketchikan, Alaska was our third and last port of call during our cruise in June of 2008. First, allow me to
mention some facts about Ketchikan ...
Located on an island, Ketchikan began as an Indian fishing camp and lies 679 miles north of Seattle and 235
miles south of Juneau. The little town of about 8,000 residents is built right over the water in many places.
The city is named after Ketchikan Creek, which flows through the town. It is Alaska's "first city," being the
first port of call for many cruise ships and State ferries that journey northward. Ketchikan's historic
downtown is wedged between water and forested mountains and becomes saturated in summer with tourists.
Ketchikan's economy is based upon tourism and fishing, and the city is well known as the "Salmon Capital of
the World," and a paradise for sport fishermen and naturalists alike. It is the fifth most populous city in
Alaska and the southeastern most city of the state. The Misty Fjords National Monument is one of the area's
It was when we were in Ketchikan when I learned that it has the world's largest collection of standing totem
poles. These poles are located at three major locations: Saxman Village, Totem Bight, and the Totem Heritage
Center which Nena and I visited in one of our shore excursions. Additional poles are also scattered throughout
the city. The totem poles make a visit to Ketchikan essential for anyone who is interested in Native art. And
our visit to Ketchikan came out to be a very educational one for me for it was during this visit that I
learned a lot about totem poles. It is my hope that my previous posting about Totem Poles made you understand
what these poles are all about.
The area of Ketchikan encompasses 3 square miles of land and 1 square mile of water. The area lies in the
maritime climate zone noted for its warm winters, cool summers, and heavy precipitation. Summer temperatures
range from 51 to 65; winter temperatures range from 29 to 39. Ketchikan averages 162 inches (13.5 feet) of
precipitation annually, including 32 inches of snowfall. I guess the month of June when we were in Ketchikan
was one of the best months of the year to be there. The weather was just nice and comfortable.
The Ketchikan Airport is located on its own island, Garvina Island. From Ketchikan's airport it is a short
ferry ride across Tongass Narrows to the city of Ketchikan. Alaska State Ferries come to Ketchikan nearly
everyday and cruise ships loaded with tourists dock at its harbor from May through September. On a busy day,
there are as many as 6 large cruise ships that come to Ketchikan. I think there were 5 cruise ships at the
Ketchikan wharf when we were there such that there were tourists all over the city.
It is when tourists are around that the stores, restaurants, and shops in town really make good in their sales.
It is a pity though when winter comes since not that many tourists are in town. I was told that many of the
stores and shops that cater to tourist usually close shop during the winter time due to the absence of tourists.
This was the case with a former college classmate of mine who owns the Fil-Am Variety store in Juneau. He and
his family are in Juneau during the summer and when winter comes, they just close shop and go home to the
Philippines for vacation.
Present-day Ketchikan has a higher concentration of Native Alaskans than any other city in the state. Today,
the city bustles with different activities for its visitors. Commercial fishing enterprises, a growing tourism
and the Misty Fjords National Monument to the east make Ketchikan a great place to visit.
The accompanying photographs will give you an idea as to what we saw during our short visit to Ketchikan,
Alaska. To view a slideshow of the photographs just click on the link shown below:
The City of Ketchikan
Hopefully, the photographs will give you a better idea as to what the city of Ketchikan is like through the
lens of my camera.