July 3, 2012
Totem Bight State Historical Park makes for a fascinating half-day excursion from downtown Ketchikan, Alaska. Started in 1938, the Civilian Conservation Corps hired local Native carvers to duplicate original totem poles that were eroding away in abandoned villages. New poles were carved right next to the originals, which were brought in from the surrounding area. Overlooking Tongass Narrows, Totem Bight includes a clan house and 15 Tlingit and Haida totems, and is now on the National Register of Historic Places.
Park rangers provide regular tours and explanation of the various poles. You will learn about Duk-toothl, who ripped a sea lion in two in revenge of the sea lion killing his brother and uncle. You will also learn how to tell the difference between Tlingit and Haida totem poles: figures on Tlingit poles are often widely spaced apart whereas the Haida often crammed as much content on their poles as possible.
The blue bus makes Totem Bight easily accessible from downtown Ketchikan via hourly runs ($1 each way or $2 for a full-day pass).
On the way back into town, we hiked the short Rainbird Trail above town, providing views over downtown Ketchikan and the Tongass Narrows. Float planes were busy landing and taking off, and we spotted a small pod of whales (likely humpback) heading south in the Narrows.
And here is one more photo of Creek Street, taken at about 3:45am.