Alaska – Ketchikan

First port of call on the week long cruise was Ketchikan – “Salmon Capital of the World”. The  first day and a half we’d spent cruising up the British Columbia Coast until finally reaching Alaskan waters – a beautiful stretch alongside forested and snow capped mountains.

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The ship docked in the early hours of the morning, giving us a half day to see the sights of our first Alaskan town.  The view that greeted us as we breakfasted on deck was magnificent. Snow capped mountains in brilliant sunshine and several cruise ships moored along the wharf of the picturesque town.

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Fortunately the sights were all within easy walking distance so our touring party set out on a self guided walking tour.

Ketchikan - "Salmon Capital of the World"

Ketchikan - "Salmon Capital of the World"

This town began as a fishing camp “kitschkhin” of the indigenous Tlingit people. Of course the first white settlers cashed in with salteries and canneries soon producing millions of cans of salmon – hence “Salmon Capital of the World”.  So the salmon hatchery, today producing 400,000 salmon per year,  is a mandatory stop . The fish are released into the Ketchikan Creek. After a hazardous life at sea the surviving fish miraculously find their way back to the hatchery to spawn.

salmon hatchery

salmon hatchery

The Totem Heritage Centre is another worthwhile stop. Here totem poles have been returned from deserted Tlingit villages. The centre exhibits native art and teaches native crafts.

old town dolly's

Old Town - Creek Steet

Old Town - Creek Steet

Back into town Creek Street is the most popular place to be. The Old Town sits on a boardwalk built on pilons above the creek. It’s touristy but picturesque and has a colourful history. Many of the stores formed a red light district in days gone by. The most notorious dwelling “Dolly’s House” is painted red and peppermint green. Now restored, it operates as a museum named after the former Madam Dolly Arthur.

Ketchikan Museum

Ketchikan Museum

I also popped into the Historical Museum to dig a little deeper into the town’s past. Native culture is represented as are the industries that have flourished here over the last 100 years: fishing, timber and mining.

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Today it’s tourism that keeps the town alive, primarily the passengers of the cruise ships (the Norwegian Sun alone has 2000 of them!)

Farewell to Ketchikan

Farewell to Ketchikan

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