SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska
Column - Commentary

A Town Where All Credit Cards Are Welcome!


May 11, 2023

Ketchikan, Alaska -
For as long as I can remember, Ketchikan has dubbed itself “The First City.”


That’s because we are:

A) Alaskas oldest city,

B) the first place to become a city in Alaska, 

C) the southernmost city in Alaska.

 Actually none of the above.

Kodiak, Sitka, Wrangell and even Juneau are significantly older. 

And several other Alaskan cities incorporated before Ketchikan.

And both Metlakatla and Adak are further south.

But Ketchikan was the first city in Alaska that boats docked in heading north after about 1890 or so, so I guess that "first" counts for something.

Lucky for us, for the most part, Alaskan cities are what they call themselves.

 Fairbanks calls itself "Alaska's Golden Heart" because "Freezin' for No Reason" was already taken. Petersburg calls itself "Little Norway" even though it is roughly 25 times the size (in area) of Oslo. Anchorage, a while back, took to calling itself "Big Wild Life" even though that moniker really only has traditionally applied to Spenard.

Of course, anyone over the age of about 40 remembers Ketchikan calling itself the "Salmon Capital of the World" which while catchy (get it, catchy?) was never precisely true.

Sure, we had a big salmon stream, but so did a lot of other places and the number salmon caught here was never larger than quite a few other seafood forward locales.

 "Salmon Canning Capital of the World" was probably close to accurate in the late 1920s and early 1930s before the runs started to crater because more salmon were going in cans than were actually getting up the creeks to make more salmon. My mom used to say that Ketchikan was about the stinkiest place in the world because of all the canneries, but I suspect there are a few other places more "fragrant" than the First City.

I've taken it upon myself to come up with a new slogan for Ketchikan because, well because of this recent interaction that happened between me and an old friend.

"You're really good with....with....with," she started out.

"With?" I replied.

"You know with...."


"You know, you're really really good with..."


"Yeah, with words."

But even with someone who's spirit animal is "Wordsy" the Owl (I made that up) can't always find the right words to write (write words?).

So I set to cogitating.

Natch, I pulled a muscle in my brain and had to go on the IL (Idiot List) for a couple of weeks. But while I was studiously engaged in not thinking for 10-14 days (you can't be too careful), the answer came to me.

Ketchikan has always been "about the economy, stupid." Well, maybe not the stupid part.

We have graciously welcomed miners, fishers, loggers and now tourists, with the single goal of separating them from their hard earned wages. So the Ketchikan motto has to reflect that.

With apologies to Harry S Truman:

Ketchikan: Your Buck Stops Here!

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Dave Kiffer is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.

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