Article Overview: Creek Street in Ketchikan, Alaska
Nestled in the heart of Ketchikan, Alaska, Creek Street stands as a living testament to the town’s rich history and vibrant culture. This charming boardwalk, perched on the rocky shore of Ketchikan Creek, has morphed from a bustling red-light district to a must-visit destination for locals and tourists alike. In this article, we’ll take a stroll down Creek Street and explore its fascinating past, unique architecture, and the lively atmosphere that makes it a cherished part of Ketchikan.
Why Trust Us Regarding Ketchikan’s Creek Street
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Table of contents: Creek Street Ketchikan
- Why Trust Us Regarding Ketchikan’s Creek Street
- Creek Street Ketchikan
- Creek Street’s Colorful Past
- Creek Streets Historic Distinctions
- The Creek Street Salmon Run
- Where to Stay on Creek Street
- Creek Street Restaurants
- Creek Street Shopping
- Map of Creek Street in Ketchikan, Alaska
- Creek Street Ketchikan, Alaska (Post Summary)
Creek Street Ketchikan
Creek Street’s Colorful Past
Creek Street in Ketchikan, Alaska, stands as a living testament to the town’s fascinating history, marked by a series of transformations that reflect the evolving character of this waterfront community. Originally, Creek Street was a bustling center for gold miners, fishermen, and loggers. However, the street took a somewhat predictable turn in the early 1900’s becoming a notorious red-light district. The transformation was triggered in 1903 when the city of Ketchikan passed an ordinance that relocated its brothels from the city center to Creek Street.
Throughout its red-light district era, Creek Street was home to numerous brothels, speakeasies, and backroom saloons. It thrived until the eventual outlawing of prostitution and the closure of its brothels in 1954. Despite the crackdown, Creek Street endured, and today, it serves as a time capsule, offering visitors a glimpse into the town’s risqué past.
One of the unique aspects of Creek Street’s history is its role during the prohibition era. It emerged as a clandestine hub for bootleggers who smuggled Canadian whiskey to supply the local brothels. The street, built over the water, provided an ideal setting for discreet transactions. Bootleggers timed their deliveries with the high tide, rowing their boats up under the houses along the waterway that were equipped with trap doors. A tale as old as time, folks finding a way to drink.
Operated predominantly by independent, business-savvy women, the brothels on Creek Street served as a unique way for female entrepreneurs to acquire land and manage businesses at a time when such opportunities were scarce for women. Among the notable establishments on Creek Street is Dolly’s House, an attraction that has retained its allure from the past into the present. Originally a brothel and now transformed into a museum, Dolly’s House commemorates its former resident, the renowned madam Dolly Arthur. Guided tours offered by the museum enable visitors to journey back in time, delving into the intriguing history of Creek Street and the influential women who played a pivotal role in shaping its narrative.
Married Man’s Way
Take a stroll into the hills above the boardwalk on Married Man’s Way, a historic trail that once had a more sordid purpose. In the past, it served as an escape route for fleeing patrons avoiding potential law enforcement raids on the brothels. The trail was also appreciated just as much by married men attempting to be discrete by using the brothels back door. Today the trail is a lovely wooded path that leads you to the Tram and the salmon ladder.
Creek Streets Historic Distinctions
Alaska’s “First City” served many purposes over the years. Initially a bustling hub for miners seeking gold, it later catered to the fishing and logging industry. This predominantly male work force created a thriving red-light district. A microcosm of the Wild West, Ketchikan embraced the bawdy realities of its burgeoning economy, with brothels woven into the very fabric of the town. But in 1954, what was once tolerated was abruptly relegated to the pages of history. In 2014, Creek Street was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, recognizing its historical and architectural significance.
The Creek Street Salmon Run
Ketchikan’s Creek Street isn’t just a pretty boardwalk on a waterway; it’s a bustling salmon highway during late June to September. The iconic fish stream in from the ocean, revving up the whole ecosystem and drawing in an unexpected cast of characters. Goofy grinning seals enjoy the salmon buffet, frolicking in the water and snagging their share. When the tide goes out, it’s the seagulls turn. They swoop and squawk, tearing into leftover salmon screaming “MINE MINE MINE“.
No visit to Ketchikan, the self-proclaimed “Salmon Capital,” is complete without witnessing the annual salmon parade. Stroll down Creek Street and watch the scaled torpedoes navigate the crystal-clear water. Head to the Salmon Ladder at the end of Married Man’s Trail for the pièce de résistance. There, thousands of salmon climb the rushing vertical waters launching themselves skyward. It’s a pretty awesome display, a truly Alaskan experience.
Chief Johnson Totem Pole
Standing at the entrance of Creek Street in Ketchikan, Alaska, is a 55 foot tall totem pole carved by Israel Shotridge. A replica of the Chief Johnson Totem Pole that once stood at the center of the community. Raised in 1989, it serves as a symbol of reinstating the native people’s rightful claim to the land of their ancestors.
Creek Street’s Stedman Bridge
Creek Street is flanked on one side by the Stedman Bridge, an antique red trestle bridge built in the 1920’s. You’ll often witness fishermen trying their luck from the bridge.
Ride the Creek Street Tram
Depending on weather, the tram runs every day from Creek Street up to the Cape Fox Lodge and back again. The tram lets you out onto the first floor of the main Lodge lobby. On a nice clear day I suggest grabbing a pint and a pie at the lodges pizzeria, Eagles Nest.
Where to Stay on Creek Street
The city of Ketchikan has a lot of lodging options, but if you want to stay directly on or near Creek Street, there are only a few establishments available. Finding the perfect place depends on your priorities and budget. Here are a few options to consider:
- Inn at Creek Street: You can’t get any closer to the action than staying at one of the 26 rooms in 7 different buildings that Inn at Creek Street operates throughout the area. Each room and building is has its own charm. The Star Room for example used to be a popular brothel in its heyday, since then the Inn at Creek Street has transformed it into a charming suite that is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Phone: 907-225-0246
- Cape Fox Lodge: Located just off creek street, the Cape Fox Lodge is tucked into the hillside on the edge of the Tongass National Forest, among broad stands of spruce, hemlock, and cedar. Its breathtaking views of Ketchikan draw visitors from all over the country, who enjoy luxurious accommodations and first-class creative cuisine. A sophisticated retreat for adventurers and who like to toss a pinky out. Make sure to take the tram down! Phone: 907-225-8001
- The Ketchikan Hostel: For the budget-conscious travelers, this is a great option. Located inside the Methodist church in downtown, the Ketchikan Hostel has dorm beds, showers and a kitchen. It’s located just off Creek Street, so you’re still close to all the action but can save on accommodation costs. Phone: 907-225-3319
Not surprisingly, Creek Street restaurants offer a plethora of seafood options. Beyond the bounty of the local waters, you’ll find options to satisfy most cravings. Here are a few highlights to whet your appetite.
- Heen Kahidi Restaurant: Not only the best restaurant on/near Creek Street, Heen Kaidi is the best restaurant in Ketchikan. Located inside the Cape Fox Lodge with panoramic harbor views, this local eatery serves up awesome seafood dishes like Miso Salmon and Thai Curry Halibut. Open everyday from 6:30am-9pm
- Creek Street Reef: Standard Alaskan seafood located right on Creek Street. Think crab legs and fish and chips. Open everyday till 4pm.
- Good Fortune Restaurant: Solid Chinese food served up right on Creek Street. Curiously, sushi is an option as well. Open everyday from 11am-9pm.
- Eagles Nest: For a more casual bite, the Eagle’s Nest Brick Oven Pizza offers steaming hot pizzas and handcrafted cocktails on their outdoor patio located in the Cape Fox Lounge. It’s the perfect spot for soaking up the sun on a summer afternoon.
- New York Cafe: Located just off the waterway under the wonderful New York Hotel, this cafe serves up modern seafood, Mediterranean fair, and a solid breakfast. Open most days from 8am – 8:30, close Sundays.
Creek Street Shopping
Creek Street in Ketchikan offers a slew of souvenir, gift, and trinket shops. With the cruise ships constantly coming through theres a big demand, here are a couple stand out shops that are worth a mention.
- Parnassus Books: Extensive selection of Alaskan books and local art.
- Crazy Wolf Studio: Native Tsimshian owned jewelry, arts and crafts.
- Alaska Northern Lights: Trinkets and Souvenirs.
Map of Creek Street in Ketchikan, Alaska
Creek Street Ketchikan, Alaska (Post Summary)
- Why Trust Us
- Colorful Past
- Dolly’s House
- Married Man’s Way
- Historic Distinctions
- Salmon Run
- Chief Johnson Totem Pole
- Stedman Bridge
- Ride the Tram
- Where to Stay