August 8: Ketchikan

It was raining when we arrived in Ketchikan and it rained for most of the day. However, that is what you can expect in Ketchikan.

The Rock sculpture on the dock Tour took us past the South-east Alaska Discovery Center Married man's trail

When we disembarked we hurried through the rain past the Rock sculpture to catch our tour of the Ketchikan area. Our tour through the city took us past the South-east Alaska Discovery Center. We stopped for a moment at Married Man’s Trail. This was the way you took to get to the brothels on Creek Street if you didn’t want anyone to see you.

Fish ladder to help salmon migrate up Ketchikan Creek. Salmon spawning in a stream Stairs to access houses.

Ketchikan Creek has a fish ladder to help the salmon swim upstream to spawn as the fish in the center photo are doing. Since the hills in Ketchikan are steep many houses can only be reached by climbing sets of stairs. Where sets of stairs serve several dwellings they are considered streets and given names. In these cases the repair and maintenance of the stairs is a city responsibility.

Ketchikan city park. Fish cannery at the edge of town Cove quite a ways out of town

As we drove through town we passed Ketchican City Park and on the outskirts we passed a fish cannery. We proceeded for quite a distance along the S. Tongrass Highway until we came to a small cove. We drove inland a short distance and passed a dock with a couple of rather rain-soaked bald eagles. Eagle’s feathers are not oily and water-repellant like a duck’s and so eagles have difficulty flying in rainy weather.

Mama bear and her cub Movie of mama bear and her cub. Very wet Gerry heading for the bus.

Despite the heavy rain we spent a fair bit of time watching a mother black bear and her two cubs. One of the cubs tended to wander off on its own so most of the time we could just see the mother and one cub. By the time we headed back to the bus, I was pretty well drenched.

Drying my camera near the Saxman sign Brightly colored house totem pole Carver working on a new totem pole

Our next stop was at the Saxman village where there is the world’s largest collection of totem poles. Some of the poles have been moved from Pennock, Tongass and Village Islands and from Old Cape Fox village at Kirk Point. The rain had not let up so I was kept busy trying to keep my lens dry. Near the parking lot was a studio where carvers were busy carving new totem poles. Note that the carvers inside the carving shed are carving independent totem poles commissioned from all over the world.

Another new pole being carved. Eagle totem pole Elaborately carved totem pole

The first photo shows another pole being carved and decorated. The other two photos show tall elaborately carved totem poles. Note that inanimate objects are forbidden on poles and all of the figures represent living beings.

Seward shame totem pole Lincoln totem pole Traditional tribal house

This first photo is of the famous Seward shame pole. It was apparently created to shame the former U.S. Secretary of State for not repaying a potlatch to the Tlingit people. The intent of the shame pole was indicated by the figure’s nose and ears being painted red, to indicate his stinginess. The second photo is often said to be a shame pole for Abraham Lincoln because he eliminated slavery. Traditionally when a rival tribe was defeated by the Tlingit the captives served as slaves for a few years before given their freedom. However, the Lincoln pole was actually erected to commemorate the U.S Revenue Cutter Lincoln in its role in helping two rival Tlingit clans establish peace. The last photo is of a traditional tribal house.

Old rotting totem pole Back in Ketchikan.

Even though the totem poles are made of rot-resistant cedar, they are typically not well maintained after their erection. They deteriorate over the years because of the cool, wet climate of this region. A totem pole rarely lasts over 100 years. Older poles typically fall over during the winter storms that batter the coast.

Once we got back to Ketchikan, we hustled back to the ship to dry off and warm up. During the afternoon I attended a demonstration of fruit and vegetable carving.

Peeling a piece of fruit A rabbit carved from a cantaloupe A penguin with an eggplant body

The first photo shows a chef peeling a piece of fruit as part of the demonstration. The center photo is a rabbit that is fashioned out of a cantaloupe with eyes and eyes cut from a radish. The third photo is a penguin. The penguin’s body is made from an eggplant. The head is a lemon. The bow-tie is fashioned from the peel being cut in the first photo.

A carved watermelon Last passengers hurry up the ramp in the rain.

The cooks were able to create elaborate scenes by carving the rind of a watermelon. When the demonstration was over, it was almost time to cast off and head for Vancouver.