Tag Archives: Ketchikan

Cruising Alaska Off-Season — Ketchikan’s Infamous Creek Street

I mentioned earlier in this series of articles that Ketchikan is one of our favorite Alaska destinations. Sure, it’s tourist-kitschy and all that, but it has much to offer the shutterbug. And, as you’ll see on this week’s Fun Photo Friday, it also offers up great subjects for over-the-top photo manipulation (Yep… went hog wild for this Friday, so stay tuned). And my favorite Ketchikan seems to heavily concentrate in one area — Ketchikan’s infamous former red-light district along Creek Street.

We begin today’s journey from dockside

Creek Street is an easy, leisurely five-minute stroll (approximately 0.2 miles/.32 kilometers ) if you enter this area from the west end of the street. If you head for the east end, which intersects with Stedman Street, it’s a marginally farther six-minute walk (approximately 0.3 miles/.48 kilometers).

Leaving Ovation and heading inland

The street itself is very short and can easily be covered in much less than two minutes, but plan on spending at least half and hour exploring the many shops… longer if you want to stop at one of the restaurants or drinking establishments.

Spruce Mill Way to the right of the cruise dock

Mill Street is a great way to get to Creek Street if you plan on entering from the east. Or take Mission Street and cross the small foot bridge to get there from the west. Neither way will disappoint, and you can take the alternate route for the return to the ship.

Front Street hooks left and becomes Mill Street

On this journey Ursula and I went via the Mill Street route, entering Creek Street from the adjacent Stedman Street Bridge. One of the first images of Creek Street via this route would be this:

Creek Street

We’ve been here many a time, including during spawning season when Ketchikan Creek is littered with dead salmon. Yes, it does smell a bit during these times, but not distressingly so. Today we were well past the spawn, and not many dead fish remained. Those that did were at the bottom of the creek. Now, looking back from the opposite end of what you see above gives you the view below. To the right is the Stedman Street Bridge. The green structure near the center is the Dolly House Museum, which is billed as Ketchikan’s only remaining “den of iniquity” still standing.

Stedman Street Bridge; the green structure is Dolly’s House Museum

In some areas of Creek Street the walkways narrow between charming, brightly colored buildings:

Creek Street is actually a walkway

As you depart Creek Street on the west side, cross over the foot bridge, and make your way to the inappropriately named Dock Street (no where near the docks), look to your left for the Chief Johnson Totem Pole. Topping that pole is a neat stylized eagle waiting to say, “Cheese,” as you prepare to snap his photo:

Chief Johnson Totem Pole

This next totem pole you might miss if you head straight back along Mill Street, or even Mission for that matter. To find it, hang a right and walk a short distance. It sits just outside of the Tongass Historical Museum:

A Jonathan Livingston Seagull posing atop the Tongass Historical Museum totem

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Cruising Alaska Off-Season — Ketchikan’s Totem Heritage Center

Time to hit the local bus for a side trip Ursula was dying to make. She had her sights on a very specific museum owned and operated by the city of Ketchikan. This particular museum is dedicated to that indigenous art form known as the Totem Pole. Today I present to you the awesome Totem Heritage Center. But let’s take one last look at the navigation bridge of the Ovation of the Seas before we hit the bus:

Crew hard at work on Ovation‘s navigation bridge

It didn’t take long for the bus to arrive, as the city runs buses at 15-minute intervals when the cruise ships are in town. From there it was about a short to the far east side of town. Where the bus drops you off the center will be to your right, but don’t miss the small stone bridge to your left before heading inside for this charming view along Ketchikan Creek:

Ketchikan Creek view at the Totem Heritage Center

Back toward the center is where you start encountering some very impressive totems, beginning with this sentinel alongside the center’s ramped entrance walkway:

The totem guarding the center’s ramped walkway entrance

Lighting inside the center can be rather challenging, and many photographing exhibits is made additionally challenging as many are behind reflective glass. For the later, I got very close to the glass, where I could, to minimize reflections. For the former I set the camera to Handheld Night Shot format to get around the dim lighting. Outside, however, you’re rewarded with an explosion of colors. Here is today’s photo gallery/slide show of some of what you’ll see both inside and out at the Totem Heritage Center:

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Cruising Alaska Off-Season — Arriving Ketchikan

Ketchikan was a one-shot deal on these two off-season Alaskan back-to-back cruises. It was a substitute on Cruise #2 for the previous cruise’s Sitka visit, as weather made Sitka an iffy docking proposition. As Ketchikan is one of our favorite Alaskan destinations, Ursula and I were not disappointed at the substitution. The weather this morning alternated between sunny and drizzly. The picture below, for instance, was taken just 59 minutes after today’s lead photo above:

What a difference an hour makes

We attempted to wait out the alternating weather, but finally gave in as Ursula had in mind a special visit this day. You’ll see that Ketchikan destination on Wednesday. Today, however, we concentrate on the scenes we enjoyed upon arrival.

Dockside Ketchikan is aimed at cruise tourism

And since we had shifted to a balcony for Cruise 2 I took full advantage of sheltered picture taking from on high. Here is a Ketchikan panorama I took at 10:29 a.m.:

Ketchikan Panorama

Three more photos taken as we waited for a potential break in the weather:

Whether it’s the Caribbean or Alaska, there’s an ever-present Diamonds/Tanzanite International
Stedman Street in the distance
Tourist-favorite Creek Street in the background

Well, we’ve waited long enough. Time to grab umbrellas and venture out onto the streets, beginning with this dockside statue entitled “The Rock” dedicated to historical figures from Ketchikan’s past:

The Rock

Coming off the ship you’ll notice Front Street curves into town while Spruce Mill Way continues parallel to the cruise dock. Here are the businesses along Spruce Mill:

Along Spruce Mill Way

But if you want a Ketchikan sign for your scrapbook, turn left instead onto Front Street, walk over a block, and get your camera ready for this sight on Mission Street:

Welcome to Ketchikan

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