Ketchikan, Alaska: The Totem Pole Capital of the World


Ketchikan, Alaska, was the third and final port on my Coral Princess cruise. On Thursday morning, I left the ship and immediately joined a tour of the Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary, where I walked through dripping greenery for about an hour hoping to see some wildlife. Our guide was knowledgeable about the plentiful plantlife and at the end, we were rewarded with some bald eagles flying overhead. But it turned out that I was more enthralled by the sanctuary's other attractions: watching master carver Wayne Hewson create his latest totem pole (pictured above). Totem Poles are really what Ketchikan is all about.

Wayne, a Tsimshian Native American, has crafted 30 totem poles, five of which decorate the Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary. After we left Wayne, I went to admire his work. When the tour dropped me off back in the charming port town of Ketchikan, I decided to go on a treasure hunt to find all of the totems downtown — Ketchikan has more totem poles than anywhere else in the world. I even found some on people's lawns! I then headed up the hill to the Totem Heritage Center, a small museum that houses some of the original totem poles found in the 19th Century in uninhabited Tlingit and Haida village sites near Ketchikan.

Given my new-found love of totem poles, I'm disappointed that I didn't make it to Saxman Native Village and only caught a glimpse through my bus window of Totem Bight Historical State Park. But as you can see in the photos below, I certainly saw plenty of totem poles that day!

Comped but never compromised: I’m on an Alaska Twitter Press Trip with Princess Cruises, but I’m free to write whatever I want.

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5 Responses to Ketchikan, Alaska: The Totem Pole Capital of the World

  1. Amanda
    Twitter: DangerousBiz
    July 1, 2010 at 12:55 am #

    I didn’t make it to Ketchikan on my own Alaskan cruise last week, but it looks like a cute little port town like Skagway. Love all the totem pole pics!

  2. Cruise Buzz July 1, 2010 at 9:42 pm #

    Great post. I also love your photos.

  3. jessiev
    Twitter: WanderingEds
    July 1, 2010 at 11:56 pm #

    VERY cool!! it looks like a must-see! what artistry…

  4. Karen Catchole July 2, 2010 at 10:08 am #

    Ah, Ketchikan! Thanks for bringing back memories of our time in Ketchikan on our Trans-Americas Journey:
    Did you get a chance to eat at Burger Queen? Slogan: Burger Bitch just didn’t sound right.”
    Too true!

  5. Emily @ Maiden Voyage July 8, 2010 at 5:54 pm #

    Very cool! I went on a cruise to Alaska a few years ago, and we took a ride out on a catamaran as our excursion in Ketchikan. It went through the misty fjords, where we passed by seals and had incredible views of uninhabited islands and beautiful waterfalls. Didn’t get to do anything related to totem polls, though!

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