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Exploring Ketchikan (Creek Street, Totems, and Brothels)


The weather improved quite a bit today, and after a whole lot of work in the morning we caught the free shuttle bus downtown for more exploring. It was late enough and the cruise ships were leaving early enough today that it wasn't super crowded either. Bonus! We met Margaret for some lunch at the Alaska Fish House (halibut tacos and halibut fish & chips…both good).]


After that we headed over to the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center and wandered through their exhibits (informative and well done). Next we thought we'd walk Creek Street again since the weather was much better for some photos than it was yesterday.

We stopped by the Alaska Eagle Art Gallery on Creek Street again and I bought a beautiful salmon pendant in the Northwest Coast formline design by artist Marvin Oliver. I loved it it when I saw it in the gallery last night when we stopped by, and when we came back today, I still loved it…so now I'm wearing it.

Creek Street:


Dolly's House (brothel, est. 1919), now a museum:



This (below) is the "Married Man's Trail" that leads to Creek Street from the back side of town.

From Destination 360: "At the turn of the twentieth century, before Ketchikan became the thriving tourist and cruise ship destination it is today, the area along Creek Street had a colorful history. Back before shops, galleries, and boutiques lined the waterway, the area was the local red light district. Police raids on the brothels were frequent and being caught at one of the houses meant a hefty fine, so many a wandering spouse looking for a quick exit from the area found the Married Man's Trail to be the perfect escape route."


We walked back toward the main part of town after checking out Married Man's Trail, and hopped on the free shuttle bus to go back to Bar Harbor. After a few minutes, we were passing the Totem Heritage Center, and at the last minute decided to get off the bus and check it out. Wow, we're so glad we did!

"The Totem Heritage Center was established in 1976 to preserve endangered 19th century totem poles retrieved from uninhabited Tlingit and Haida village sites near Ketchikan. Those magnificent, original poles are displayed at the Center in conjunction with other totems and Native Alaskan artifacts.

In addition to functioning as a museum, the Totem Heritage Center also preserves and promotes the traditional arts and crafts of the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian cultures through a nationally-recognized program of Native Arts classes and other activities."



The Totem Heritage Center has quite a few original Tlinget and Haida totems from abandoned tribal villages, held in trust with permission from their respective tribes. It's fantastic to see these 100-150 year old pieces, and we had a wonderful docent/tour guide (Peter) mostly to ourselves for the length of our visit. We asked a ton of questions and he was so knowledgeable. Definitely worth a stop if you're visiting Ketchikan.

Also on the wall, one of the earliest existing photographs taken in Alaska, by British photographer Eadweard Muybridge. He was visiting Alaska in 1868, accompanying a group of U.S. government officials touring the newly acquired Alaska Territory. This photo was taken of the Tlingets at Tongass Island Village:


If Muybridge's name sounds familiar, you might know him from his "Horse in Motion" photographic study:


We returned to Airship for a bit more work, then met up with Mark at the Fish Pirate's Saloon downtown for a beer before dinner at the Bar Harbor Restaurant with Mark and Margaret and Jean and Rob (from the American Tug "Big Red"). It was a delicious meal with many laughs, and a highlight at the end that needs it own post. Trust me.