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

Cast Those Stones, Ketchikan is Without Sin!


November 29, 2019
Friday PM

Ketchikan, Alaska -
Ketchikan has come a long way in the last 90+ years.

jpg  Dave Kiffer

The 1920s were a rollicking time in the First City. The city was shaking off the economic doldrums of the teens and the salmon canning industry was booming thanks to the fish traps that supplied hundreds of thousands salmon each year to Ketchikan's 13 canneries.

It was the time when Ketchikan, rightfully, called itself the "Salmon Capital of the World."

But, there was something else that Ketchikan was known for, far and wide.


While Prohibition was making the rest of the country very thirsty, Ketchikan's proximity to ready alcohol in Canada meant that any boat that could float was being pressed into "rum running" across Dixon Entrance.

And, with the hundreds of single fishermen in the community, more than 100 women of negotiable affection were plying their trade on Creek Street and elsewhere.

In fact, vice was getting so prevalent that the leaders of Territorial Alaska were taking to the newspapers and the floor of the Congress to decry how low Ketchikan had apparently sunk.

The previous Congressional representative James Wickersham was quoted in the Los Angeles Times as calling Ketchikan the "wickedest place" in the country.

And the current (1920s) Alaska representative to Congress Dan Sutherland called Ketchikan the "worst pest hole in America" in a speech to Congress.

It was an interesting time in Ketchikan.

Now, apparently, not so much.

Every year, the website Wallethub rates the most "sinful" cities in America based a variety of categories such as level of anger and hatred (violent crimes, sex offenses, firearm deaths), jealousy (theft, fraud), excess and vice (obesity, fast food establishments, DUI fatalities, drug and alcohol use and abuse. personal debt), greed (gambling establishments, lack of charitable giving), lust (adult entertainment, tinder use, teenage pregnancies), vanity (beauty salons, tanning salons, plastic surgery), and laziness (lack of exercise, time spent watching TV drinking beer and smoking pot, high school dropout rate).

Sounds pretty comprehensive, no?

And you would think that Ketchikan - as a nice little drinking town with a fishing problem - would probably stack up pretty high nationally. It wasn't that long ago that we still had more than 50 liquor licenses in a town of 10,000 people!

Well, we don't show on the national list of 180 communities with the most "sin." It could be because we are fairly small in population, but two Alaska "cities" did make the top 180, so I am just going to assume that we didn't make it because in the past century we have become "pure as the driven snow."

So who did make it?

The top 10 were as follows

1. Las Vegas ( #1 in Vanity and #3 in Greed)
2. Orlando, FL (#5 in Anger & Hatred and #6 in Lust)
3. Miami, FL (#5 in Jealousy and #7 in both Lust and Vanity)
4. St. Louis, MO
5. North Las Vegas, NV
6. Henderson, NV
7. Detroit, MI (#5 in Excesses & Vices)
8. Baton Rouge, LA
9. Tampa, FL
10. New Orleans, LA (#9 in Greed)

Wow, residents of Nevada, Florida and Louisiana will clearly have some "splaining" to do when they approach St. Peter at the Pearly Gates.

And I guess that makes sense, apparently a lot of the "what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" is S-I-N, SIN!

Orlando is an interesting choice. The home of Disneyworld and every other theme park known to mankind?  Lot of anger (at the lines) and Lust (the Wicked Queen in Snow White is soooo hot!) apparently.

St. Louis?

Yeah, I get there's a lot of beer there. Okay, there is a lot a lot a lot a lot of beer there.

So, okay, what about the places we are most familiar with. Where did they rank? Lily white? Or something a bit darker?

Portland #22. Generally so-so rankings. Except greed. Portland is the 10th most greediest city in America. That explains why my Voodoo Donut always disappears when I put on my plate and briefly look away. For shame, City of Roses.

Seattle #35. Seems the Emerald city has a bit on an anger problem, #30 nationally, but everything else is pretty mellow despite - or because of - the rampant pot use.

Tacoma #72.  General pretty low rankings, except for jealousy, where Tacoma makes #15 nationally. Which is perfectly understandable. The Queen City of Southern Puget Sound has been deathly jealous of World Prom Queen Seattle for the past 150 years.

And how about Alaska?

Anchorage is #66. But that is only half the story. Anchorage is #2 nationally in terms of anger and hatred. Wow! I get it, I'd be pretty angry if I had to live in Anchorage too. But, even more than Detroit? Wow again!

Juneau #73. Once again generally run of the mill numbers, except Jealousy. Juneau is the 5th most jealous community in America!!

Well, duh. They've been jealous of Ketchikan for past 100 years!





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

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