Alaska's Winter Horizon

Alaska's Winter Horizon

Friday, April 21, 2017

End of Ketchikan trip

I enjoyed a tour of the  Totem Heritage Center one afternoon in Ketchikan. 
 This museum hosts one of the largest collections of 19th century totem poles in the world.
 They also have many artifacts from some of the Tlingit villages around the area.
 Our group was treated to a special educational tour of the vaults below the museum.
 Here are just some of the unrestored poles that are kept in the climate controlled storage.
 After the tour, I got back out and walked around downtown. There are modern totem poles everywhere!
 This is the infamous Creek Street district. This place was kicking in the 1920s.
 During that time, it was a Red Light District. There were over 20 houses of ill repute in operation then.
This was also the time of Prohibition, so smugglers used the fact that this district was built right on top of the water to sneak in the booze. They would wait for high tide and paddle right under the houses. Many had trap doors to allow them to get the liquor up into the houses.
 I continued to walk along the creek and saw this huge salmon sculpture near an overlook. Salmon flood this creek in the summer.
 This made me laugh so much! This is an actual trail that lead from the top of the mountain down to the Creek Street. Yep, married men would sneak down this trail to visit the ladies of the night. It was also a way to get back home if the police came to raid the brothels.
 This was a gorgeous grouping of totem poles near the center where our convention was held.
 This huge eagle was carved by Nathan Jackson. He was the interesting carver we met on the trip to Saxman.
 I took a pic on the 13 minute flight from Ketchikan to Wrangell or maybe it was Wrangell to Petersburg. I don't know. You didn't get very high in the sky before landing on a strip about the length of your driveway! Well, maybe not that short but they were tiny!
I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the city of Ketchikan. It was so interesting and informative.

Monday, March 27, 2017


Here are more pics from my day of touring the totem poles near Ketchikan. The afternoon was spent visiting the area known as Saxman.
Here we met master carver Nathan Jackson.
 He showed us the pole he was currently working on that would honor William Seward.
 He explained about different styles and methods used to carve poles.
 He was a wealth of information and very entertaining.
 This man has dozens of totem poles displayed all over the world! Fascinating.
After we visited Mr. Jackson in the carving shed, you were able to get outside and just wander around in Saxman Totem Park.
This park is the home to the largest number of standing totem poles.
The clan house was gorgeous.
There were many poles lining the streets and walkways.
 What a view! Got the mountains, the water, and impressive totem poles.
 I bet this one has a good story. It made me laugh to see the one figure's hand being held in the character's mouth on the totem pole. Might need to research this one.

 They were all so beautiful. It was interesting to try to pick out the different animals depicted on them.

 This short carving was pointing at you. Lots of detail on the hat.
 It appeared to be Abraham Lincoln on the top of one of the poles here.
 This was a wonderful way to spend a day. You could wander for hours looking at the totem poles just in Saxman and Totem Bight Parks. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Totem Bight State Park

Here are a few more pictures of the incredible totem poles found in Totem Bight State Park.
Myths and legends from both the Tlingit and Haida tribes can be found on these poles.
Our ranger said that characters on the Haida poles usually interconnect and overlap.
 The Tlingit poles have characters that are farther apart and appear more rounded.
 I could have studied them all day and never been able to discern the difference.

 All I know is that they were awesome! 
The colors on these were quite interesting. 
Totems of long ago were painted with natural pigments found in salmon eggs, clam shells, lichen, and minerals found nearby. 

Looks like some of them have paint on them.
No, that is not a carved eagle atop this totem. It seems that spot offered the eagle a perfect place to search for food in the nearby waters.

 There are 14 totem poles to view here.
 Many of these poles had been repaired or recreated around 1938 when the U.S. Forest Service used Civilian Conservation Corps funds to hire Native carvers to bring these works back to their glory.
 Thankfully, they salvaged them and created this wonderful park that we can all appreciate. 
This place was already getting green and lush.
 It will be a shock to return to all that snow still on the ground at home!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Arrival in Ketchikan

I arrived in Ketchikan Wednesday night after taking the milk-run plane ride. You take off from Anchorage, stop in Juneau, stop in Wrangell, stop in Petersburg, and finally make it to Ketchikan! These planes really do deliver groceries and supplies to these small towns, hence the nickname of the milk-run. Got up early Thursday morning to explore the island of Revillagigedo on which Ketchikan is located. In fact,the airport is located on another small island and you have to get on a ferry to make it across the passage to the town. Ketchikan is one of the first stops most people experience when traveling up the Inside Passage from the lower 48.
This historic town is home to the largest collection of totem poles in the world.
Today's pictures were taken at the Totem Bight State Historical Park
Ketchikan is also in the middle of the most northern temperate rainforest in the world, the Tongass.
I was so excited to see grass instead of snow covering the ground!
It rains an average of 152 inches each year. They also get about 37 inches of snow each year. With rain falling about 228 days of the year, most totem poles don't stand longer than 75 years.
A lot of craftsmanship and work goes into making one of these poles.
Tradition dictates that fallen totems are not to be lifted but allowed to decay.

 As I walked in the park I tried to identify the common characters found on many poles such as an eagle, frogs, the mystical thunderbird, raven, bears, orca, beavers, and a watchman.

 Here is the clan house.
 After making it through the small wooden opening,
you are greeted inside by more beautifully carved totems.
The clan house was very important to the tribe. It must have been a safe place also. You have to kind of duck and lean over when coming through the opening head first. If you were an intruder, they could smack you on the head as you entered!

This is such a beautiful area!