SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

As The Salmon Turns

By Dave Kiffer


September 15, 2014
Monday PM

Ketchikan, Alaska -
As another visitor season winds down…..

jpg  Dave Kiffer

A couple from Switzerland were concerned about the downtown “smell.”

It’s the humpies dying in the Creek, they were told.

“Well, why is that?”

They were told that it was a natural thing that salmon returned to Ketchikan Creek, more than a million and, well, spawned and died.

The couple seemed concerned at this information.

“Well, who cleans it all up?”


What to say, what to say.

“The bears and the eagles and the seagulls and the seals do.”


Yes, it part of that Circle of Life thing. Salmon die so that other creatures, including man, may live. Hakuna Matata and all that Disney stuff.

“Well, shouldn’t someone just clean it up? It really smells.”

Yes, it does. My mother used to tell me that was Ketchikan’s “Smell of Money.”

I’m sure that all the seagull mothers and eagle mothers and bear mothers say the same thing to their children. Along with “don’t you two cubs make me come back there!”

“But how long does it go on?" the visitors persisted. "It really does smell.”

Yes it does.

It was explained that what the other animals don’t scavenge usually gets washed out to sea by the Drizzles of October.

“You mean to say those dead fish go out into the open ocean?”

Uhh, yes, they do.

“Well, then who cleans that all up?”

And now you know why goats aren’t allowed to go potty on the Matterhorn!

Those Swiss, they know clean.

Anyway, we get all kinds each summer here in Our Fair Salmon City.

Like the group of tourists from another country, which shall remain nameless.

They were standing right in the middle of the road at the point where Mill Street becomes Stedman Street, right next to the Majestic Salmon Colored Federal Building.

A patient motorist waited a minute or so as the group milled around, some snapping pictures of the Chief Johnson pole while others consulted either walking maps or their Blinky Toy I-Whatevers.

Finally, patience was lost.

“Excuse me, this is a dangerous intersection,” the driver shouted. “Please get back on the sidewalk.”

Naturally, they did the smart thing.

They all swarmed the car and driver with questions.

“Where is Creek Street?”

“Is there museum?”

“Where here I find eagles?”

Kind of like standing in the middle of the Egan Expressway in Juneau and proclaiming “I don’t see any glacier? Where is glacier?”

Fortunately, we have yet to have anyone arrive in Ketchikan and ask “where is Klondike?”

Cause you know they aren’t taking about ice cream bars.

Visitors have also been asking about bears a lot lately.

Probably because some helpful sort may have mentioned that bears are around when the fish are in the creeks.

And that is true, but you usually don’t see the bears out wandering Creek Street during the daylight hours when 1.3 million visitors are milling about.

Maybe next time someone asks about bears –which someone does just about every day – I should direct them to Tatsudas?

I guess it is not fair to assume that all visitors wander around asking silly questions. Sometimes they can be down right smarty pants about it.

One sideled up to the other day, arched an eyebrow, and said.

“This is Alaska, I bet I can see Sarah Palin from here?”


Speaking of the Former Half-Governor.

She and her family are back in the news again. I guess it is not of good idea for former boyfriends of Palin children to attend Iron Dog parties in Anchorage.

Seems a fight broke out. Blood either was or was not spilled.

According to the rumor mill, the Half-Governor was allegedly heard shouting “Do you know who I am?”

Must have been a rhetorical question.

Like the one asked recently at another local Creek side business.

"Are you gonna call the police?"


"I think someone went potty in the parking lot."


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Historical Feature Stories by Dave Kiffer


Dave Kiffer is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
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Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska


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Ketchikan, Alaska

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