“Ketchikan is an Alaskan city facing the Inside Passage, a popular cruise route along the state’s southeastern coast. It is known for its many Native American totem poles, on display throughout town [the largest display in Alaska]. Nearby Misty Fiords National Monument is a glacier-carved wilderness featuring snowcapped mountains, waterfalls and salmon spawning streams. It’s also home to rich wildlife including black bears, wolves and bald eagles… 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. It may mean ‘the river belonging to Kitschk’; other accounts claim it means ‘Thundering Wings of an Eagle’.” — Wikipedia
Ketchikan is around Alaska’s tenth largest city with a population of just over 8,000 – the city of Anchorage, with nearly 40% of the state’s population, has approximately 300,000 residents, whereas Juneau, the capital and second largest city, has a population of only 33,000. Ketchikan is known as a rainy city, with rain occurring over 300 days a year. According to Wikipedia, “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).” Our visit was typical – the first day was sunny and relatively warm (63 degrees F / 18 degrees C) and the next day was rainy, damp and felt much cooler at 58 degrees F / 15 degrees C.
Totem poles are carved to honor deceased ancestors, record history, social events and oral tradition. They were never worshiped as religious objects. The Chief Johnson Totem Pole was carved by Israel Shotridge and raised in 1989, a replica of the Chief Johnson, or Kajuk, Totem Pole raised in this general location in 1901 for the Ganaxadi Tlinghit of the Raven moiety of the Tanta Kwan (Tongrass) group. The original memorial pole stood until 1982. Except for Jajuk atop the pole, the figures symbolize a single story about Raven. Fog Woman is identified with the summer salmon run when fog lies at the mouth of streams. She produces all salmon and causes them to return to the creeks of their birth.
“Dolly Arthur, nee Thelma Copeland of rural Idaho mining country, was a Ketchikan resident from 1919 until her death in July 1975. She is probably Ketchikan’s most famous person today… Dolly said her attraction for men was one of her best traits. ‘I just liked men and they liked me, too!’ Her house on Creek Street is now a museum visited by thousands of tourists every summer. In her lifetime, however, there was nothing much to distinguish it from other small houses of ill repute along the boardwalk. There was always a temporary look to those little rain-scoured houses tottering atop piling, whose residents used the cleansing tides to serve as sewer, plus bottle (and occasionally body) disposal. Dolly’s house, however, was not only her business but also her longtime home. Her claim to present fame was simply because of the more than 50 years she spent on Creek Street. She bought the house in 1919 and was still living there, alone, in the early ’70s. She became the last of the former ladies of the line to remain in residence on the creek until her death, which was 20 years after the red-light district was finally closed for good in 1954. Dolly was not a whore, and would be horrified to be called that. Dolly called herself a ‘sporting woman,’ a distinction that was important to her. More than once she said, ‘I never could stand a whore!’ She thought they were tasteless and crude. She considered herself of a higher class. And while most of the girls worked and lived in pairs in the small creekside houses, Dolly always worked alone – except for her first year in Ketchikan when she worked at Black Mary’s Star dance hall. And there were, of course, the postwar years when her true love, Lefty, shared her home, bed and board, but that was at her convenience and business schedule and between the couple’s zesty spats.” – www.sitnews.org
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