Home / The Good Life / Kitschk-hin – City Of The Ketchikan Creek

Kitschk-hin – City Of The Ketchikan Creek

Ketchikan, Alaska

ketchikan-new-banner-1

banner

Ketchikan, Alaska, is truly the beginning of the last frontier. Set at the southernmost entrance to Alaska’s famed Inside Passage—a network of waterways that snake through some of the most jaw-droppingly beautiful wilderness in the world—Ketchikan is best known for three things: feisty salmon, idyllic scenery, and an incredibly rich Alaska Native culture.
Ketchikan, Alaska, USA

Due to our thriving, century-old commercial fishery, Ketchikan is known as “The Salmon Capital of the World.” We are proud of our fishing culture and passionate about providing opportunities for visitors to catch and/or otherwise enjoy the best seafood on the planet.

750px-Ketchikan_Alaska_Panoramic

Ketchikan is a photographer’s dream: point your camera in most any direction and you’ll capture an image suitable for framing. Misty Fjords National Monument, with achingly blue lakes, and snowcapped mountaintops often shrouded in an ethereal mist, is the most beautiful jewel in our crown. We are also located in the midst of the Tongass National Forest, a 17M-acre rainforest full of lush cedar, Sitka spruce, waterfalls, and wildlife.

For local Native Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian artists, the Tongass Rainforest provides red cedar logs for totem poles and the cedar bark and spruce roots used in traditional basket weaving. The Native arts are thriving here in Ketchikan and there are several museum collections and totem parks that showcase both ancient and more contemporary works. The arts in Ketchikan are not limited to Native arts, however; an astonishing number of residents participate in the Ketchikan’s art scene, which encompasses the full spectrum of visual and performing arts.

34171_1474678742866_5731219_n

Ketchikan (/ˈkɛkæn/, KETCH-ih-kan) in the Ketchikan Gateway Borough, Alaska, United States, the southeasternmost city in Alaska. With a population at the 2010 census of 8,050, it is the fifth-most populous city in the state, and tenth-most populous community when census-designated places are included.

34171_1474678862869_376742_n

The surrounding borough, encompassing suburbs both north and south of the city along the Tongass Highway (most of which are commonly regarded as a part of Ketchikan, albeit not a part of the city itself), plus small rural settlements accessible mostly by water, registered a population of 13,477 in that same census.

alaskan-husky_banner

34171_1474679102875_649437_n

Estimates put the 2014 population at 13,787 people. Incorporated on August 25, 1900, Ketchikan is the earliest extant incorporated city in Alaska, because consolidation or unification elsewhere in Alaska resulted in dissolution of those communities’ city governments. Ketchikan is located on Revillagigedo Island, so named in 1793 by Captain George Vancouver.

Ketchikan is named after Ketchikan Creek, which flows through the town, emptying into the Tongass Narrows a short distance southeast of its downtown. “Ketchikan” comes from the Tlingit name for the creek, Kitschk-hin, the meaning of which is unclear.

30477_1474684103000_7537776_n

It may mean “the river belonging to Kitschk”; other accounts claim it means “Thundering Wings of an Eagle”. In modern Tlingit this name is rendered as Kichx̱áan. Ketchikan Creek served as a summer fishing camp for Tlingit natives for untold years before the town was established by Mike Martin in 1885. The area near the mouth of Ketchikan Creek later earned Ketchikan a measure of infamy during the first half of the 20th century for a red-light district known as Creek Street, with brothels aligned on either side of the creek. According to the U.S. Postal Service, Ketchikan’s zip code, 99950, is the highest in the country.

34171_1474678662864_7795587_n (1)

Ketchikan’s economy is based upon government services, tourism and commercial fishing. Civic boosters have dubbed the community the “Salmon Capital of the World.” The Misty Fiords National Monument is one of the area’s major attractions, and the Tongass National Forest has long been headquartered in Ketchikan, mostly in the city’s historic Federal Building. For most of the latter half of the 20th century, a large portion of Ketchikan’s economy and life centered on the Ketchikan Pulp Company pulp mill in nearby Ward Cove. The mill closed in 1997 in the wake of the passage of the Tongass Timber Reform Act of 1990, which reduced timber harvest targets in the national forest.

alaskan-husky_banner

30477_1474684143001_7228073_n

Ketchikan has the world’s largest collection of standing totem poles, found throughout the city and at four major locations: Saxman Totem Park, Totem Bight State Park, Potlatch Park, and the Totem Heritage Center. Most of the totems at Saxman Totem Park and Totem Bight State Park are recarvings of older poles, a practice that began during the Roosevelt Administration through the Civilian Conservation Corps. The Totem Heritage Center displays preserved 19th-century poles rescued from abandoned village sites near Ketchikan.
36206_1474681942946_6704638_n

1916855_1474683342981_1611102_n

36206_1474681622938_2885680_n

Ketchikan is located on Revillagigedo Island, 700 miles (1,100 km) north of Seattle, Washington, and 235 miles (378 km) south of Juneau, Alaska. It is surrounded by the Tongass National Forest, which is managed by the United States Forest Service from headquarters in the Ketchikan Federal Building downtown.

30477_1474684583012_7979272_n

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 5.9 square miles (15.3 km2). 4.4 square miles (11.3 km2) of it is land and 1.5 square miles (4.0 km2) of it (29.14%) is water.

30477_1474684303005_8085087_n

The ½-mile (800 m) wide channel called the Tongass Narrows separates Ketchikan from Gravina Island, where Ketchikan International Airport is located. Deer Mountain, a 3,001-foot (915 m) peak, rises immediately east of the city’s downtown area.

Ketchikan has a climate greatly modified and moderated by its maritime location, featuring an oceanic climate (Köppen Cfb) which is likened to Scotland or Northern Ireland though with much more rain. Winters are cool but far milder than its latitude alone may suggest: January has a 24-hour average of 33.6 °F (0.9 °C). Summers are mild, as August’s high averages 64.4 °F (18.0 °C). Another feature of the area’s climate is the high amount of rainfall, with an equivalent average of 153 inches (3,900 mm) per year, falling more heavily in autumn and winter. The climate is so moderated that even Tallahassee, Florida has recorded an all-time record minimum—−2 °F (−19 °C) in February 1899—lower than that of Ketchikan, although Tallahassee averages around 22 °F (12 °C) warmer over the year. Further east in North America, winters on these parallels are extremely cold.

13452_1474680062899_3240957_n

30477_1474684343006_6599959_n

The record high temperature in Ketchikan was 89 °F (32 °C) on June 20, 1958, and August 14, 1977. The record low temperature was −1 °F (−18 °C) on December 15, 1964, and January 5, 1965. The wettest year was 1949 with 202.55 inches (5,145 mm) and the driest year was 1995 with 88.45 inches (2,247 mm). The most rainfall in one month was 42.69 inches (1,084 mm) during October 1974 and the most rainfall in 24 hours was 8.71 inches (221 mm) on October 11, 1977. The most snowfall in one month was 45.1 inches (115 cm) in January 1971.

alaskan-husky_banner

Climate data for Ketchikan, Alaska
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 62
(17)
63
(17)
60
(16)
75
(24)
87
(31)
89
(32)
87
(31)
89
(32)
80
(27)
69
(21)
65
(18)
62
(17)
89
(32)
Average high °F (°C) 38.4
(3.6)
41.3
(5.2)
43.6
(6.4)
49.3
(9.6)
55.1
(12.8)
60.4
(15.8)
64.0
(17.8)
64.5
(18.1)
59.1
(15.1)
50.8
(10.4)
43.5
(6.4)
39.9
(4.4)
50.8
(10.4)
Average low °F (°C) 28.8
(−1.8)
31.2
(−0.4)
33.0
(0.6)
36.7
(2.6)
41.8
(5.4)
47.1
(8.4)
51.4
(10.8)
52.1
(11.2)
47.1
(8.4)
40.7
(4.8)
34.1
(1.2)
31.0
(−0.6)
39.6
(4.2)
Record low °F (°C) −1
(−18)
0
(−18)
3
(−16)
10
(−12)
27
(−3)
33
(1)
39
(4)
37
(3)
29
(−2)
17
(−8)
5
(−15)
−1
(−18)
−1
(−18)
Average precipitation inches (mm) 13.88
(352.6)
12.74
(323.6)
11.28
(286.5)
11.19
(284.2)
9.25
(235)
7.37
(187.2)
7.43
(188.7)
10.80
(274.3)
14.22
(361.2)
22.17
(563.1)
17.26
(438.4)
15.65
(397.5)
153.24
(3,892.3)
Average snowfall inches (cm) 13.3
(33.8)
8.9
(22.6)
5.4
(13.7)
0.8
(2)
0.1
(0.3)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0.1
(0.3)
2.3
(5.8)
8.6
(21.8)
39.5
(100.3)
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 inch) 20 18 20 19 17 16 15 16 19 24 23 22 229
1916846_1474680662914_8192289_n

Did You Know?

  • At the turn of the century, the Loring Cannery produced more cans of salmon that any other cannery in Alaska. The cannery and related housing had a larger population than Ketchikan.
  • Highschool students use a gravel field to play football. Ouch!
  • Ketchikan receives almost 1,000,000 visitors each year, most arrive by cruise ships.
  • There is a 20 mph speed limit in Ketchikan that all vehicles must obey, including police and fire trucks.
  • Mike Martin purchased 160 acres of land from Chief Kyan in 1885, which later became the Township of Ketchikan.
  • The Cape Fox Tlingits and Tongass used Ketchikan Creek as a fish camp.
  • The Ketchikan Post Office was established in 1892.
  • By 1936 there were seven canneries in operation in Ketchikan.
  • In September after the last cruise ship departs, the buildings in the downtown area are emptied of stock and closed for the winter.

alaskan-husky_banner

Here are 21 Fun Facts to Know About Ketchikan, Alaska

1. Located 679 miles north of Seattle, Washington, and 90 miles north of Prince Rupert, British Columbia, Ketchikan is Alaska’s most southeastern city, and first port call on northbound Alaska cruises.

2. Ketchikan is located on the western coast of Revillagigedo Island. The island (called Revilla Island by the locals) is the 12th largest in the in United States, and was named by Captain George Vancouver in 1793.

Ketchikan and Revillagigedo Island are part of the “Inside Passage” coastal route used by cruise ships, freighters, fishing boats and ferries that weaves through the group of islands on the Pacific coast of North America.

3. The city of Ketchikan is named after Ketchikan Creek, which flows through the town and is filled with salmon each summer. The summer salmon fishing attracted Cape Fox Tlingit Native Alaskans to the area for centuries.

4. The name “Ketchikan” comes from the Tlingit name for the creek, Kitschk-hin.

5. Ketchikan’s abundant fish and timber resources attracted non-Natives to the area. In 1885, Mike Martin bought 160 acres from Chief Kyan, which later became the Township of Ketchikan.

6. The first fish cannery opened in 1886 near the mouth of Ketchikan Creek.

7. The Ketchikan Post Office was established in 1892.

8. On August 25, 1900, the town of Ketchikan was officially incorporated with a population of 800.

9. Four more fish canneries were built by 1912. By 1936, seven canneries were in operation, producing 1.5 million cases of salmon annually in Ketchikan.

Creek Street in Ketchikan, Alaska. Photo taken by Eugeniy Kalinin.

Creek Street in Ketchikan, Alaska. Photo taken by Eugeniy Kalinin.

10. Residents and visitors still fish along Ketchikan Creek, which was once the red-light district of Ketchikan. The wooden boardwalk was built on pilings over Ketchikan Creek.  Between 1903 and 1953, as many as 30 brothels lined either side of the creek.

11. In the early 1900’s, Ketchikan also became a supply center for logging in southeast Alaska. The need for lumber and packing boxes spawned the Ketchikan Spruce Mills in 1903, which operated for 70 years.

12. A $55 million pulp mill was constructed at Ward Cove near Ketchikan in 1954. Its operation fueled the growth Ketchikan until the mill closed in 1997 after the passage of the Tongass Timber Reform Act of 1990, which reduced timber harvest targets in the national forest.

13. Ketchikan is surrounded by the 17 million-acre Tongass National Forest, the largest in the United States.Tongess is managed by the United States Forest Service from headquarters in downtown Ketchikan.

Misty Fjords National Monument, Alaska. Photo by Zarxos.

Misty Fjords National Monument, Alaska. Photo by Zarxos.

14. The 2.2 million acre Misty Fiords National Monument is known for its long, deep fiords carved by glaciers thousands of years ago.  Located 40 miles from Ketchikan, Misty Fiords (or Fjords) is explored only by boat or float plane.

15. Ketchikan has a moderate rain forest climate with a record high temperature of 89 °F and a record low temperature of ?1 °F.

16. It rains frequently in Ketchikan. The city averages 153 inches of rain per year, with the wettest months in fall and winter.

17. One of the ZIP codes for Ketchikan, Alaska – 99950 — is the highest numbered ZIP code in the United States.

18. Ketchikan has the world’s largest collection of standing totem poles. You can see them throughout the city and at Saxman Totem Park, Totem Bight State Park, Potlatch Park, and the Totem Heritage Center which displays 19th-century poles rescued from abandoned village sites near Ketchikan.

34171_1474678942871_6684116_n

19. The Alaska Marine Highway System – a ferry service operated by the state of Alaska — has its headquarters in Ketchikan.

20. The half a mile wide Tongass Narrows channel separates Ketchikan from Gravina Island, where Ketchikan International Airport is located. You must take a five-minute ferry ride (with or without car) to get back and forth to the airport.

21. The Gravina Island Bridge, commonly referred to as the “Bridge to Nowhere”, was a proposed $398 million project to replace the ferry that currently connects Ketchikan with its airport on Gravina Island. After the bridge project encountered fierce opposition outside of Alaska as an example of pork barrel spending, the U.S. Congress removed the federal funding earmark for it.

Here are some more wonderful photos I shot when in Ketchikan, Alaska on those fine sunny days, exploring, eating and generally taking in the clean fresh cool Alaskan air, such a change from the hot humid climate of South Easy Asia where I come from.

30477_1474684263004_2317558_n

13452_1474680022898_2966794_n

13452_1474679742891_6989993_n

30477_1474684503010_1548754_n

13452_1474679502885_818863_n

13452_1474679702890_2497253_n

30477_1474684223003_4889534_n

34171_1474678902870_4882028_n

You really take a holiday to Alaska – and so much has been said about this far away place in the United States and you can be sure that you’ll have a trip of a lifetime which so many American take for granted as so many just hop onto a cruiseship and take this one week voyage from either Seattle, Washington, USA or from a nearer port in Canada – Vancouver.

35858_1474682542961_3145145_n

Not only can you enjoy the fantastic array of Salmon to choose from to great secenery shots of Bears, Eagles and the famous Alaskan Husky. Ive visited Alaska – like Sitka and Juneau many times and I just cant get enough of these gorgeous towns and friendly people. One of these days, I hope to get a close up view of those wonderful Huskies!

Ketchikan_Banner

Kitschk-hin – City Of The Ketchikan Creek

alaskan-husky_banner

Check Also

SOULed Out in two places

MY SECOND FIND OF SOULed Out was not by design but quite by accident. I was …