July 29: Ketchikan, Alaska

Early in the morning of July 29 the Millennium reached Ketchikan, Alaska.

Approaching the dock at Ketchican The Millennium viewed from the dock Ketchican gets a LOT of rain!

It was cloudy and raining gently when we reached Ketchikan. Ketchikan gets an average of 153 inches of rain every year. The wettest year on record was 1949 when they got 202 inches. Natives say you can predict the weather by looking up at the mountain. If you can’t see the mountain, it is raining now. If you can see the mountain, it will be raining in about five minutes.

Map of Ketchikan area Flower garden near the dock Beautiful lilies

The mountains in this area come right down to the edge of the ocean. As a result, Ketchican is built on a narrow strip along the coast. Much of the city has been built on fill dumped into the ocean. The climate of Ketchican is heavily influenced by its marine location. The winters are cold but the average temperature in January is just +0.9C. As a result, many types of flowers thrive here.

Totem pole near the center of town Park bench with a humpback whale motif Entrance to Creek Street

The Ketchikan area is known for its totem poles. This one is located in a small park in the center of town. There was an interesting bench in the park with a humpback whale motif. A few blocks from the dock is the entrance to Creek Street, the traditional “red light” district of Ketchikan.

Houses built on piles driven into the creek banks and bed. Dolly's house on Creek Street Shop selling local craftwork.

Creek Street and the houses alongside the street are built on piles driven into the banks and bed of the creek. Originally most of the houses were owned and operated by “ladies of the evening.” Dolly Arthur was one of the Creek’s longest working residents. The first “working ladies” arrived along with the gold miners in the 1890s. In 1903 City Council voted to move certain brothels away from the center of town and locate them on Creek Street. The area really boomed when Prohibition was enacted in 1920. Most of the houses had secret trap doors in the floor through which booze was delivered from rowboats plying the creek. There was an attempt to eliminate prostitution in 1946 but it wasn’t until 1953 that the majority of the trade was eliminated. In the 1960s value of Creek Street to the tourist trade was recognized and most of the houses converted into shops or restaurants that cater to the tourist trade. Dolly’s House is kept as a museum.

A display of gold nuggets A sign in a locally-owned shop Beautiful sculptures of animals

One of the shops had a display of some of the many gold nuggets that were found by gold panners in the sands of Ketchikan Creek. Many of the shops near the docks are owned by the cruise lines. Others are locally owned but pay a fee to be included on the cruise ship’s “list of recommended shops” while others prefer to be independent and pass their savings on to customers. There are a lot of wonderful carvings for sale in these shops.

Fishing in Ketchican Creek Ketchikan small boat harbor Leaving Ketchikan

One popular pastime is fishing for salmon in Ketchikan Creek. If you prefer ocean fishing, there are many charter boats operating out of Ketchikan’s small boat harbor. In the late afternoon we left Ketchikan and sailed a little further along the Inside Passage.

Playing bridge on-board the Millennium Comedian at evening show

In the late afternoon we played a bit of bridge. In the evening the show featured a comedian.