ketchikan, Alaska is known as the gateway the last frontier. Set at the southernmost entrance to Alaska’s famed Inside Passage, a network of waterways that wind through some of the most amazingly beautiful wilderness in the world. Ketchikan is famous for three things; salmon, amazing scenery, and its rich Alaska Native culture.
Founded as a salmon cannery site in 1885, Ketchikan’s economy has always been based on fishing and for years the city was known as the “Canned Salmon Capital of the World.” By 1936 there were seven canneries operating, producing almost two million cases of salmon a season.
The need for lumber fostered the Ketchikan Spruce Mills built in 1903, which operated for over 70 years. The lumber industry collapsed when the Clinton administration moved to reduce timber cutting in Alaska by having the U.S. Forest service cancel contracts for timber in March 1997 on Federal land.
When cruise ships started sailing Alaska and the waters of the Inside Passage, Ketchikan was reborn becoming a very popular port of call.
The town gets its name from the Tongass and Tlingit Indians who named their fish camp kitschk-hin, meaning stream with “thundering wings of eagles.” While Skagway attracted gold prospectors, Ketchikan was a treasure trove of abundant fish and timber that attracted American settlers to the area. In 1885, Mike Martin bought 160 acres from Chief Kyan to found the township. The first cannery was built in 1886 near the mouth of Ketchikan Creek and by 1912 four more were in operation.
Alaska Cruise Destinations
Where Your Ship Docks
Cruise ships will normally dock at the piers right along the historic areas waterfront. A number of shops and malls nearby have public facilities. There is no terminal and disembarking requires the use of the ships boarding ramp.
Ketchikan is a small town with the central district encompassing only a few dozen blocks. Most trips out of town involve specific nature tours by bus, car, boat or plane. The town is located on one of Alaska’s large coastal islands with most of it covered in large tracts of undeveloped forest.
Ketchikan is an American town and uses the U.S. Dollar. Credit cards are widely accepted and ATM machines are available.
Shopping offers a number of opportunities with local native crafts being the traditional gifts and souvenirs. Locally smoked and canned salmon should be on everyone’s shopping list featuring reasonable prices and being a great take-home prize.
Disembarking – This port has a developed cruise ship pier but the ease of disembarking varies by the individual ships gangway designs. For passengers using wheelchairs there can be a moderate ramp incline to deal with.
Port City Characteristics – This port downtown has a well developed wheelchair friendly infrastructure. The port area is flat or has few inclines. Intersection crosswalks have few issues with curbs or other wheelchair obstacles.