Welcome to Ketchikan
Join us and explore the breathtaking sights of the island oasis we call home.
Ketchikan’s history goes back ages. For millennia, humans have used the mouth of Ketchikan Creek as their base of summer operations, mostly as a Tlingit fishing camp. Each summer, they would make a canoe journey from their winter villages to harvest, dry, and smoke the pink, coho, chum, and king salmon returning to their natal streams. In relatively recent history, these salmon runs attracted the attention of commercial canning interests, and a man named Mike Martin. In 1885, he purchased 160 acres at the mouth of the creek from the land’s Tlingit owners to start a saltery. This attracted other businesses and settlers who established a year-round presence on the creek. In 1900, Ketchikan was incorporated as a City, with Martin as its first mayor.
Like much of the United States, Ketchikan boomed in the 1920s rapidly growing into one of the largest cities in Alaska. The rapidly expanding economy brought miners, loggers, and fishermen who spent the earnings of their labor on Creek Street. This was Ketchikan’s infamous red light district that lined the banks of the creek with bordellos, gambling, and dance halls. Illegal liquor, brought in by enterprising rum runners through trap doors at high tide, flowed freely in the creekside establishments. Acting as monuments to Ketchikan’s colorful history, these historic buildings on pilings are now colorful shops and homes standing brightly painted against the emerald, forested hillside. From Thomas Basin, the harbor at the mouth of the creek, the town spreads narrowly along the shoreline, with fish processing, float plane operators, cruise ship docks, and other commercial interests dominating the waterfront while residential homes cling to the steep mountainside above them.
Ketchikan is our base of operations, not only because it is our home, but it is also a fantastic place to explore the natural wonders of Southeast Alaska. Nestled in the heart of the Tongass National Forest, and right next door to Misty Fjords National Monument, we are surrounded by incredible beauty and solitude. Forested islands and secret passageways connected by deep waters create the ultimate landscape to explore by small expedition craft. Black sand beaches, and colorful tide pools are exposed twice daily during tidal swings while forests of kelp line the rocky shores. Incredible wildlife and peaceful wilderness experiences are found minutes from town. This is where we live, this is where we adventure.