Dave Kiffer is a freelance
writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
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is an uncommitted independent writer who produces and sells articles
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152 Over Here: When the Canadians came to Annette to help defend Alaska during World War II By DAVE KIFFER - Visitors to Annette Island are often fascinated by the remains of what once was one of the largest airfields along the Alaskan coast. - More...
Sunday PM - March 11, 2018
151 Gillam Crash transfixed Ketchikan; Dramatic rescue of survivors occurred 75 years ago By DAVE KIFFER - Seventy five years ago this month, while most Americans were transfixed by news reports of the World War II battles at Stalingrad and Guadalcanal, Ketchikan residents were following a dramatic local story: The crash and subsequent rescue of the survivors of the crash of famed pilot Harold Gillam's Lockheed Electra in what it now called Misty Fjords. - More....
Tuesday PM - February 20, 2018
150 E.B. White sailed to Alaska in 1923; Famed writer visited Ketchikan as a ‘callow’ youth. By DAVE KIFFER - Alaskans are very familiar with the famous authors who have come to Alaska and used it as their literary canvas. Jack London, James Michener, John Muir, and many others have written of the north, carrying our stories – and sometimes our myths - to a broader public. - More...
Wednesday PM - January 17, 2018
149 2017 Year in Review - Wet Summer Set Local Tongues Wagging in 2017 By DAVE KIFFER - Another year in Ketchikan where “weather” was the big story. At least that’s what everyone was talking about. The summer weather that is. - More...
Tuesday PM - January 02, 2018
148 Japanese immigrant was an early Alaskan casualty of World War II; Kayamori was the “Picture Man” in Yakutat By DAVE KIFFER - Many people know the name of the first Alaskan casualty of World War II. - More...
Friday PM - December 22, 2017
147 Alaska Marine Highway Tested Jet Foils in the 1980s ; Hundreds of residents took rides during demonstrations By DAVE KIFFER - Over the past four decades the Alaska Marine Highway System has looked at a variety of ways to efficiently move passengers and vehicles over Alaska's watery expanses. - More...
Saturday PM - November 18, 2017
146 Deadly plane crash led to creation of Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad; 1947 Pan Am crash on Tamgas Mountain killed 18 By DAVE KIFFER - Seventy years ago this week (Thursday), the worst Alaskan aviation accident up to that time occurred on Annette Island when a Pan American Airways DC-4 slammed into the top of Tamgas Mountain killing all 18 passengers and crew. - More...
Tuesday PM - October 24, 2017
145 Redford movie was based on former Ketchikan resident; Tom Murton was first probation officer and Ketchikan jail manager By DAVE KIFFER - In 1980. Robert Redford starred in a movie called "Brubaker" about a crusading prison warden in Arkansas who tried to eliminate prison corruption and improve conditions for prisoners. - More...
Friday PM - October 06, 2017
144 'The 'Alaska Flag Line' served Ketchikan for two decades; Pacific Northern Airlines was a primary carrier for Southeast Alaska By DAVE KIFFER - It may seem like Alaska Airlines has been Ketchikan's main air connection to the rest of the world forever. But a little more than half a century ago, Alaska Airlines barely served the First City. The primary airlines that brought passengers to the Annette airport were Pan Am and Pacific Northern Airlines. - More...
Wednesday PM - September 13, 2017
143 Ketchikan: A town of few 'highrises'; In the First City, buildings grew outward rather than upward - Ketchikan is not a city of high rises, few Alaskan towns are. - More...
Monday PM - September 04, 2017
142 WHEN DID KETCHIKAN BECOME THE RAINFALL CAPITAL? National magazine article extolled First City Rain in 1947 By DAVE KIFFER - Ketchikan has been known in the national consciousness for a few things. - More...
Thursday PM - August 17, 2017
141 Russel Merrill's excellent Southeast Alaska Adventure; Pioneer Aviator brought the second plane into Ketchikan in 1925 - Many people know that Roy Jones brought the first airplane to Ketchikan in 1922 and that he briefly operated Alaska's first commercial aviation company with his single plane, the "Northbird." - More...
Tuesday PM - August 01, 2017
140 Alaskan cruise industry began transforming 50 years ago; Italia, Spirit of London, Island Princess were among the first of the bigger cruise ships - By 1967, visitors had been coming to southern Southeast Alaska for more than 80 years, but compared to the visitor industry of 2017, tourism was still in its infancy. - More...
Saturday PM - July 01, 2017
139 USCG CUTTER CAPE ROMAIN STILL ON PATROL; Longtime Ketchikan ship still sailing for CA Sea Scouts By DAVE KIFFER - While Ketchikan is all abuzz with the arrival this spring and summer of two brand new 154-foot United States Coast Guard cutters, there are still many local residents who remember the long history of an earlier Cutter, the Cape Romain, which spent more than two decades patrolling the Alexander Archipelago. - More...
Thursday AM - June 08, 2017
138 Coast Guard has been in Ketchikan nearly 115 years By DAVE KIFFER - This summer a major change is taking place at the Ketchikan Coast Guard base as two new 154-foot fast response Coast Guard cutters join the Alaskan fleet. - More...
Sunday PM - May 21, 2017
137 The Day that Margaret Bell saved two plane crash victims; Local author, who wrote about 'heroes', 'heroines,' was also one in real life By DAVE KIFFER - The most successful author to have called the Ketchikan area home was Margaret Bell, who published a dozen novels in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. Focusing on their younger protagonists, Bell's novels - published by major companies like Morrow - are what would now be called "young adult" novels and featured many stories that she had lived in her decades in Alaska. - More...
Monday PM - May 08, 2017
136 Remembering Operation Magic Carpet; 70 years ago, Alaska Airlines airlifted nearly 50,000 Yemenite Jewish refugees to the new state of Israel By DAVE KIFFER - In an era in which airlines tend to trumpet their public goods works with great enthusiasm, it is interesting that very few people, even in Alaska, are aware of Alaska Airline’s efforts to rescue nearly 50,000 Yemenite Jews from danger on the Arabian Peninsula and relocate them to the newly created state of Israel in 1948. - More...
Wednesday PM - April 19, 2017
135 Did a ‘deadhead’ in Funter Bay cause the air crash death of Will Rogers? After 80 years still no clear cause to Alaska’s most famous plane crash By DAVE KIFFER - Could there be a connection between a floating log in Admiralty Island’s Funter Bay and the most famous plane crash in Alaska’s history, which took place more than 1,000 miles away near Point Barrow? - More...
Wednesday PM - March 29, 2017
134 KETCHIKAN PULP MILL CLOSED 20 YEARS AGO By DAVE KIFFER - Twenty years ago this week, the hammer fell on the community of Ketchikan. - More...
Wednesday PM - March 22, 2017
133 The Silent City of Alaska: Was it hoax? Or a mirage? By DAVE KIFFER - One hundred and thirty years ago, the residents of the Outside world knew very little about Alaska. They knew it had glaciers and giant polar bears and not much else. America's purchase of Alaska in 1867 was derided in some quarters as $7.2 million for a giant icebox, or Seward's Ice Box, after the US Secretary of State who had made the deal. - More...
Friday PM - March 03, 2017
132 Only two sitting presidents have visited Southeast Alaska A feature story By DAVE KIFFER - Since the advent of intercontinental air travel, just about every President of the United States has visited Alaska, at least briefly, with Anchorage and Elmendorf Air Force Base serving as hosts for several carefully choreographed speeches in hangers and elsewhere. - More...
Wednesday PM - February 22, 2017
131 Offbeat stories, a 2016 highlight; No major local stories dominated year By DAVE KIFFER - It was a year, in which no major story dominated the news in Ketchikan, but as usual there were several smaller, offbeat, bits of news that reminded us what a unique place Ketchikan is. - More...
Wednesday PM - January 18, 2017
130 Ketchikan's 'railroads' have faded into history By DAVE KIFFER - For decades, Ketchikan residents have been amused by questions on the state driver's test dealing with railroad crossings. Because, like nearly all the other towns in Southeast Alaska, there are no railroads: Except for Skagway which has the famed White Pass and Yukon railroad, which takes tens of thousands of visitors each summer from tidewater to the top of the nearby White Pass. - More...
Tuesday PM - December 27, 2016
129 Trump’s grandfather took part in the Gold Rush; Entrepreneur had hotels in Bennett, Whitehorse By DAVE KIFFER - We know that Donald Trump’s grandfather was involved the Klondike Gold Rush. But like many other stories from that time, some of the details are a little fuzzy.- More...
Friday PM - November 25, 2016
128 Canadians search for lost 'nuke' near Prince Rupert; Two ton 'dummy' bomb was dropped in 1950By DAVE KIFFER - The Canadian Department of National Defence announced recently that it would like to find the remains of a long-lost relic of the Cold War in the waters off Banks Island, south of Prince Rupert. - More...
Friday PM - November 25, 2016
127 Classy Kassie' Took Southeast Alaska to War; Escort Carrier named after Kasaan Bay By DAVE KIFFER - During World War II, the American military machine was cranking out warships almost faster than it could name them and several of the ships ended up bearing the names of Alaskan cities or places. - More...
November 10, 2016
126 Kasaan celebrates Son-I-Hat longhouse restoration By DAVE KIFFER - Nearly 800 people attended a September 3rd ceremony marking the restoration of the Son-I-Hat longhouse in Kasaan, a village of 64 people on the east side of Prince of Wales Island. - More...
Wednesday PM - September 14, 2016
125 Debate over Deer Mountain Logging began more than 20 years ago By DAVE KIFFER - Recent newspaper headlines trumpeting the possibility of the Alaska Mental Health Lands Trust logging land it owns on Deer Mountain behind Ketchikan have stirred up significant community ire. - More...
Monday PM - August 29, 2016
124 Rezanov: Russian 'Romeo' foresaw an empire in Alaska, California and Hawaii By DAVE KIFFER - Most Alaskans are very aware of the history of Russian America and names like Baranov, Shelikov and Wrangell are as a familiar as the names of the Americans in Alaska’s early history. - More...
Monday AM - August 01, 2016
123 The names on the walls; 29 Ketchikan facilities have been named after prominent people, families By DAVE KIFFER - One of the ways that a community honors its important people is by naming buildings and facilities after them. - More...
Monday AM - June 27, 2016
122 Tatsuda's grocery celebrates centennial; Family's 4th generation operates Stedman landmark By DAVE KIFFER - In 1904, Yawatahama, Japan was a bustling town on the western edge of Shikoku Island, the smallest of Japan’s main islands. - More...
Thursday PM - May 19, 2016
121 June Allen: Collector of Characters and the Character of Ketchikan By DAVE KIFFER - It was a rainy night in late August 1964, when June Allen arrived in Ketchikan. With her were her husband, who was taking a job as an English teacher at Ketchikan Community College, her five “tired and whiny” children and the children’s grandfather. - More...
Thursday PM - April 07, 2016
120 - MV Sustina finally leaves Ketchikan but its fate remains uncertain; Ambitious goals eventually led to the $80 million ferry that could not meet its civilian, military objectives By DAVE KIFFER - After nearly a decade, the MV Susitna left Ketchikan in mid-February, under decidedly less pomp and circumstances than accompanied its construction at what was then Ketchikan Ship and Drydock. - More...
Sunday PM - February 28, 2016
119 - Group hopes for information on Alaskans sent to Morningside; Portland mental health facility housed 3,500 Alaskans prior to statehood By DAVE KIFFER - For more than half a century, the territory of Alaska had no facility to deal with mental illness or developmental disabilities. - More...
Thursday AM - February 11, 2016
118 Plane Crash, Gravina Bridge Top local stories in 2015 By DAVE KIFFER - A deadly plane crash and another chapter in “The Bridge to Nowhere” saga were the major stories in Southern Southeast in 2015. - More...
Monday PM - January 04, 2016
117 - Visiting and Revisiting Ketchikan; Two writers record their impressions of the First City, 16 years apart By DAVE KIFFER - Long before “The Bridge to Nowhere” caught the national eye, Ketchikan had already curried favor with one of America’s most famous television journalists. In fact, Charles Kuralt was so enamored with Ketchikan, he gave it a whole chapter in his 1995 best-selling book “Charles Kuralt’s America.” - More...
Tuesday AM - November 24, 2015
116 A Cruise Ship Goes Down; Sinking of the Prinsendam in 1980 led to One of history’s greatest maritime rescues By DAVE KIFFER - At the beginning of most cruise ship sailings, the passengers gather for a safety lecture. It's not really a drill because they don't get into lifeboats or rafts that are then cast off. What takes place is a muster drill in which passengers are told where to gather in an emergency and how to don a life vest. - More...
Saturday AM - October 10, 2015
115 Steinbeck’s famous boat hopes to sail again; The Western Flyer spent decades in SE; nearly sank here By DAVE KIFFER
- One of the most famous fishing boats is American history is currently sitting on dry land in Port Townsend waiting for yet another attempt to preserve it to begin.- More...
Saturday - September 05, 2015
114 Ketchikan’s only Presidential visitor back in the news; Even if Harding did have a love child, it doesn’t change local history By DAVE KIFFER - For a President who spent barely two years in office and is regarded by most historians as one of the least important in U.S. history, Warren G. Harding has a lot of staying power in the public consciousness. - More...
Sunday PM - August 16, 2015
113 Vitus Bering Discovered Alaska, or did he? Some evidence points toward an earlier Russian explorer By DAVE KIFFER - Every Alaskan school child knows that Vitus Bering "discovered" Alaska in 1741. - More...
Thursday - July 16, 2015
112 Fifty years ago, 26 died in the Granduc Avalanch - Fifty years ago, an unimaginable tragedy swept the twin mining towns of Hyder and Stewart, 70 miles east of Ketchikan, at the head of Portland Canal. - More...
Friday - April 17, 2015
111 Hyder border crossing debate: Is Canada still miffed over 1903 decision? - Is Hyder a bit of Alaska isolated by Canada? Or is it a piece of Canada, geographically isolated in Alaska? - More...
Monday - April 06, 2015
110 110 died when Star of Bengal grounded on Coronation Island By DAVE KIFFER - From just about every direction, Coronation Island is a foreboding place. - More...
Saturday AM - March 07, 2015
109 German POWs helped dismantle SE Alaska’s ‘White Elephant’ By DAVE KIFFER - Most of the stories about Alaska’s involvement in World War II deal with the Japanese attack on the Aleutians and the tragic relocation of hundreds of Aleuts from their homeland to camps in Southeast Alaska. - More...
Tuesday PM - February 17, 2015
108 WHETHER OR NOT THE WEATHER RECORDS ARE ACCURATE, KETCHIKAN HAS HAD SOME SPECTACULAR WEATHER OVER THE YEARS By DAVE KIFFER - When it gets a little wetter, or colder, or hotter than usual, Ketchikan residents immediately head to the historical records. - More....
Saturday PM - January 17, 2015
107 2014 Year in Review: Alaska, Ketchikan declare their ‘independence’ By DAVE KIFFER - 2014 was a year of political independency both statewide and locally in 2014. - More...
Saturday PM - January 03, 2015
106 New airline brings echoes of former Ketchikan carriers By DAVE KIFFER - The recent news that Delta Airlines is planning seasonal service to Ketchikan in the summer of 2015, means that the airline DNA of three former Ketchikan air carriers is returning to the First City. - More...
Saturday PM - December 20, 2014
105 CRY VENGEANCE: A video post card from Ketchikan in the 1950s By DAVE KIFFER
- Ketchikan has been the subject in a handful of movies and television shows over the years. In the late 1920s and 1930s, two “major” motion pictures, “Spawn of the North” and “The Silver Horde” were partially filmed here. It is always a bit of a shock to see a young Henry Fonda strolling along the Ketchikan waterfront on the silver screen. - More...
Wednesday PM - November 26, 2014
104 20 years ago, 'Banishment' was in the news By DAVE KIFFER - Twenty years ago this summer, Tlingits from Southern Southeast were at the center of a world-wide media frenzy after a Washington Superior Court Judge chose to agree that two young men were to be “banished” into the wilderness as the penalty for beating a pizza delivery man. - More...
Saturday - August 16, 2014
103 Ketchikan's Iconic Tunnel Turns 60 By DAVE KIFFER - To some Ketchikan’s downtown tunnel seems redundant. - More...
Tuesday PM - June 17, 2014
102 WW II Bomber honored the First City By DAVE KIFFER - Nearly seventy years ago, the City of Ketchikan was taking the war to the Japanese in the Pacific. - More...
Tuesday - April 15, 2014
101 100 Years Ago Grand Trunk Railroad Came to Northwest BC By DAVE KIFFER - A century ago, this week, the railroad came to Northwestern British Columbia. - More..
Tuesday - April 01, 2014
100 Ketchikan Schools Partially Desegregated in 1929 - A quarter century before Brown v. The Board of Education ended separate but equal schools country wide, a case in Ketchikan determined that Alaskan schools shouldn’t be completely segregated. - More...
Thursday - February 06, 2014
99 Ketchikan 2013: A year of moderation in most things By DAVE KIFFER -
In a year in which there was no single overriding story to dominate local interest, it makes sense that a most “moderate” summer weather year would be what people are talking about the most. Indeed, one of the most pleasant summers in the past twenty years seemed to give locals at least a taste of what summer is like elsewhere. - More...
Tuesday PM - January 07, 2014
98 Cable TV came to Ketchikan 60 years ago; KATV was first station in Alaska By DAVE KIFFER - Sixty years ago this Fall, long before digital cable and large screen televisions, the residents of Ketchikan were just beginning to experience the first cable television operation in Alaska and one of the first cable stations in the country. - More...
Saturday PM - December 14, 2013
97 Did Sir Francis Drake visit Southeast Alaska? Author/historian contends Drake was here long before Bering By DAVE KIFFER -
History tells us that Vitus Bering “discovered” Alaska in 1741. - More...
Monday PM - November 11, 2013
96 Ketchikan Borough Celebrates 50th Birthday By DAVE KIFFER - When the Ketchikan Gateway Borough was created in September of 1963, as one of the first boroughs in the state it was big news, right? - More..
Friday - October 11, 2013
95 Anyox: Once Ketchikan’s Rival; Now just another ghost town By DAVE KIFFER - Most longtime residents of Ketchikan have seen the familiar scenes of Ketchikan baseball players playing on the tide flats, now the Thomas Basin harbor, in the early decades of Ketchikan’s existence. - More...
Saturday - August 24, 2013
Fifty years ago, two DC 7 crash in Southeast Alaska eight months apart; Had different outcomes A Feature Article By DAVE KIFFER - A half century ago, two identical passenger planes performing identical missions crashed in the waters off Southeast Alaska. - More...
Saturday - July 27, 2013
93 First State Ferry Arrived 50 Years Ago By DAVE KIFFER - Fifty years ago today, transportation in Southeast Alaska changed dramatically.
Tuesday AM - January 23, 2013
92 SHIPYARD STORIES BIG NEWS IN 2012 By DAVE KIFFER - Much of the significant news in 2012 revolved around Alaska Ship and Drydock, one of the community’s largest employers. - More...
Tuesday AM - January 15, 2013
91 Firsthand Account of Ketchikan's Early Days A Feature Article By DAVE KIFFER - It has been more than a century since Ketchikan was carved out of the Revillagigedo hillside and the mudflats of what was then called Fish Creek. - More...
Wednesday AM - December 12, 2012
90 Infamous ‘Tarp Murders’ were twenty years ago A Feature Article By DAVE KIFFER - Two decades ago, Ketchikan residents were shocked by two murders that were unrelated, except for the fact that they both involved the victims’ bodies being disposed of in blue and green tarps. - More...
Monday PM - October 15, 2012
89 Baranovich: Alaska’s First ‘Industrialist A feature article By DAVE KIFFER - For the past 150 years of American rule, Alaska has been seen as a “land of opportunity” by many people. One of the first was Charles Vincent Baranovich, a European immigrant who came north chasing gold and decided to stay to trade and build a future. - More...
September 06, 2012
88 30 years ago, it was Time for a debate A feature story By DAVE KIFFER - Alaskans are a fractious bunch. - More...
Friday - June 29, 2012
87 Long Lasting Pilot Bread Has a Long History By DAVE KIFFER Pilot Bread, which is also known as hardtack or seabiscuit, may be one of the staples of village life in Alaska, but its history – or the history of a hard baked, long lasting biscuit made mostly of flour and water – goes back thousands of years. - More...
Monday - June 18, 2012
86 Founder of Prince Rupert died on the Titanic 100 years ago By DAVE KIFFER - A century ago, Charles Melville Hays had big plans for the tiny city of Prince Rupert. - More...
Monday - April 09, 2012
85 Battle Between Sheldon Jackson, Father Duncan Played Out In Life of Rev. Edward Marsden A Feature Story By DAVE KIFFER - In the later part of the 19th century two of the most powerful people in Alaska were missionaries, the Rev. Sheldon Jackson, the federal education agent for the unorganized territory; and Father William Duncan, the leader of one of the largest communities in the region, New Metlakatla on Annette Island. The two men often clashed both spiritually and politically. One of their biggest tussles was over one of the first Native Americans to be ordained as a minister, Edward Marsden, who eventually became a prominent spriritual/political leader like his two mentors. - More...
Monday - March 19, 2012
84 2011 Year In Review By DAVE KIFFER - A political shocker and some of the wettest weather on record dominated the year 2011 in Ketchikan. - More....
Monday AM - January 09, 2012
83 Sincerely, Igloo…” Letter, yearbooks, former shipmate recall the life of Ketchikan man who died 70 years ago at Pearl Harbor By DAVE KIFFER - For Ketchikan residents, the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 came very close to home even though it happened more than 2700 miles away. - More...
Wednesday AM - December 07, 2011
82 Seventy Years Ago, Bodding Survived Crash in Canada; Death of other flyers helped him and passenger survive A feature story By DAVE KIFFER -
Despite the fact that the north country has vast expanses of nearly unexplored territory, it is not unheard of for airplanes to crash not far from other downed planes. - More...
Monday PM - October 31, 2011
81 THE LITUYA BAY LYNCHING OF 1899; Miners Create “Justice System” In Order To Execute Accused Murderer A Feature Article By DAVE KIFFER - There is a history of “rough justice” at the many mining camps and towns in the American West. With trouble often so close and the law frequently far away, there are numerous instances of the inhabitants taking the law “into their own hands.” - More...
Monday - September 26, 2011
80 40 Years ago, 111 died in Alaska Airlines Crash Near Juneau; Company blamed faulty locator beacons, NTSB unable to come up specific crash ‘cause.’ A Feature Article By DAVE KIFFER - Forty years ago on September 4, 1971, the unthinkable happened to Alaska Airlines.
Wednesday AM - September 07, 2011
79 Spanish Explored Alaska in late 1700s; Left numerous place names including Malaspina and Caamano - Nearly all Alaskans are aware that the first Europeans to come to the “Great Land” were the Russians in the 1740s. And most Alaskans also know that English explorers such as James Cook and George Vancouver began mapping large expanses of coastal Alaska in the 1770s. - More...
Monday - July 25, 2011
78 Canadian Liners Once Served Ketchikan; ‘Pat’ and ‘George’ were the Prince and Princess of the Alaska Cruise Industry - Once upon a time, there were no great fleets of gargantuan cruise ships plying the Inside Passage and disgorging thousands of visitors each day onto the streets of Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway. - More...
Monday - May 23, 2011
77 Airport Jet Crash was 35 years ago; One died when Alaska Airlines 727 careened off Ketchikan runway A feature article By DAVE KIFFER
- Airplane crashes are not an uncommon occurrence around Ketchikan, but the one that happened on April 5, 1976, 35 years ago this week, was one of the most spectacular. As shocked local residents watched, an Alaska Airlines 727 landed in inclement weather and then went careening off the end of the runway and exploded into flames in a ravine near Government Creek. - More...
Tuesday AM - April 05, 2011
76 Native Rights Leader Turns 102; Dr. Soboleff was longtime preacher, teacher and broadcaster By DAVE KIFFER
- On February 16 of each year, Alaskans pause to remember the great leaders in the fight for Alaskan Native Civil Rights, specifically Elizabeth Peratrovich and the other great leaders of the past. - More...
Wednesday PM - February 16, 2011
75 2010 Year in Review - Elections Get Locals Up On Step By DAVE KIFFER -
The year 2010 was a year in which elections, local and statewide, caught the interest of the Ketchikan populace. - More...
Friday PM - January 21, 2011
74 HISTORY OF ALASKA TOURISM, PART 3: A Steady ‘Boom’ In Tourism Post World War II A Feature Article By
DAVE KIFFER - World War II brought the growing Alaskan tourism industry to a complete halt as nearly all discretionary travel to the Last Frontier ended from 1940 to 1946. - More...
Wednesday AM - December 29, 2010
73 SHAY: Fifty Years of Politics, Plays, And Puns A Feature Story By
DAVE KIFFER - It’s hard to imagine Ketchikan public life without Jack Shay. - More...
Tuesday PM - November 23, 2010
72 The Burning of the S.S. Prince George;
One Crewman died when fire destroyed liner at Ketchikan Dock
in 1945 A Feature Story
By DAVE KIFFER - Sixty five years ago, this week, Ketchikan experienced
one of its most spectacular fires when the Canadian National
steamship Prince George was destroyed after it caught fire at
the Heckman Dock on September 22, 1945. - More...
Monday - September 20, 2010
Celebrates Milestone By DAVE KIFFER - Ketchikan turns 110
years old this week. - More...
Monday - August 23, 2010
of Alaska Tourism, Part 2; Tourism Grew Significantly From Goldrush
To World War II; Alaska Benefited Twice From Uncertainty In Europe
A feature article By DAVE KIFFER - Just as the Klondike Gold
Rush was beginning to wear down, and Alaska was becoming a little
less prominent in the national media, another event took place
that boosted Alaska's national profile and helped boost tourism
to the district. - More...
Monday - August 16, 2010
Hagiwara dies at 91; Former Resident Was Member of Most Decorated
Military Unit in World War II By DAVE KIFFER - Hagiwara was
born and raised in Ketchikan and served in the military in World
War II. Like all local Japanese American residents he was swept
up in the controversy over the World War internment of Japanese
American citizens. - More...
Saturday - July 24, 2010
was one of Alaska's First 'Tourists (A History of Alaska Tourism,
Part One) - It can be argued that the first "tourist"
to visit Alaska was the man who was most responsible for the
purchase of the territory, U.S. Secretary of State William H.
Seward. -- More...
Monday - July 12, 2010
Island Hot Springs was 'good for what ails you'; Local resort
has been private club for the last three decades A Feature
Article By DAVE KIFFER - Oral tradition indicates that the hot
springs on what is now called Bell Island, 40 miles north of
Ketchikan on Behm Canal, have been used for centuries by the
local Native tribes, who recognized the medicinal qualities of
the springs and the mineral water.- More...
Wednesday - June 09, 2010
Rupert Turns 100 By DAVE KIFFER - On March 10, The City of
Prince Rupert is celebrating the centennial of its incorporation
in 1910. - More...
Monday - March 08, 2010
Tsimshian Was A Leader For Alaska Native Rights; Peter Simpson
Also Owned Alaska's First Native Business A Feature Article
By DAVE KIFFER - Although the vast majority of the leaders in
the Alaska Native civil rights movement were Tlingits, one of
the founders and early leaders was a Tsimshian, originally from
Canada, named Peter Simpson. - More...
Thursday - February 18, 2010
64 2009 Year In Review; Some Times No
Big News is Good News By
DAVE KIFFER - Unlike some other years in recent memory, there
was no single story that dominated Ketchikan and set local tongues
to wagging in 2009. - More...
Friday - January 08, 2010
Prest Was First To Fly Into SE; Famous Air Daredevil Nearly Beat
Roy Jones To Ketchikan in 1921 A Feature Story By DAVE KIFFER
- Most locals are aware that Roy Jones flew the seaplane Northbird
into Ketchikan the summer of 1922 and brought air flight to Southern
Southeast. - More...
Wednesday - December 23, 2009
Accident Led To The Founding of Saxman; Tribes had hoped to locate
new village on Annette Island A Feature Story By DAVE KIFFER
- An ill-fated winter canoe trip in Tongass Narrows more than
120 years ago eventually led to the founding of Saxman, and also,
indirectly, to the founding of Metlakatla as well.- More...
Thursday AM - November 26, 2009
War Hero Honored at UW; Van Winkle one of eight UW Medal of Honor
Recipients A Feature Story By DAVE KIFFER - A Ketchikan war
hero was honored at the University of Washington on Veterans'
Day along seven other winners of the nation's highest military
Monday PM - November 23, 2009
Lighthouses Lit The Way; For Safer Southeast Maritime Travel
By DAVE KIFFER - There are few places darker than the waters
of Alaska on overcast nights. Over the centuries, hundreds of
ships and thousands of mariners have come to grief on the rugged,
unforgiving coast line. - More...
Friday - November 06, 2009
a Can in Ketchikan; A History of the 'Canned Salmon Capital of
the World' - In the Spring of 1900, Ketchikan was rife with
rumors of war, a salmon war.-
Wednesday - September 23, 2009
Hoped to Eclipse Ketchikan; Ward Cove Community Sought to Be
"The Town of SE Alaska" - Most Ketchikan residents
are aware that at in 1900 both Ketchikan and Loring were locked
in battle to be the "big town" in southern Southeast
Alaska. - More...
Friday - July 31, 2009
of Creek Street Has Always Been Commerce a feature
story By DAVE KIFFER - In many ways, the true history
of Ketchikan's "infamous" Creek Street is lost in the
fog shrouded mists that often covered the dozens of small bawdy
houses that lined both sides of the Ketchikan Creek boardwalk
for more than half a century. - More....
Wednesday - June 10, 2009
Major Industries Built Ketchikan By DAVE KIFFER - The history
of Ketchikan can be easily summed up in the history of four industries:
Mining, Fishing, Timber and Tourism. - More...
Wednesday - May 06, 2009
Cliff Reopens; Building was West End School for nearly 80 years
- With the reopening of the old White Cliff school as a new office
building housing the Ketchikan Gateway Borough offices and other
commercial tenants this month, a building that has been an important
part of the community's history now has an opportunity to be
an important part of its future. - More...
Friday - April 10, 2009
Inga Brinck Recalls Ketchikan's Early Days - When
Inga (Hanson) Brinck was born, Ketchikan itself was just a child.Brinck was born on March 9,
1909 and recently turned 100, probably the first person to reach
the century mark after spending her entire life in the city of
Ketchikan. - More...
Tuesday - March 17, 2009
53 William Paul Was The "Father of
Native Land Claims"; And A Pretty Fair College Football
- Although Elizabeth
Peratrovich is probably the most honored of the Alaska Native
leaders who fought for civil rights in the first half of the
20th Century, there were other prominent leaders, including William
Paul Sr. of Ketchikan. - More...
Monday AM - January 16, 2009
52 2008 - Top
Bridge, Gas Prices, Weather were Top Stories; Ketchikan's Bridge
Returns To The National Stage - It's Baaaaaaack!!!Ketchikan's "Bridge to
Nowhere" made a big return to the national spotlight in
the Fall of 2008 when Alaska Governor Sarah Palin used her action
"canceling" the bridge project as a major plank in
her "reformist maverick" agenda in seeking the Vice
Presidency of the United States. - More...
Monday - January 12, 2009
Supported Alaska Statehood, Eventually; Chronicle, Daily News
Fought The Battle Locally - Ketchikan, Alaska - When legislation
creating the state of Alaska passed the US Congress on June 30,
1958, several hundred residents of Ketchikan gathered at the
corner of Mission and Front Streets for an impromptu celebration.
Saturday - January 03, 2009
Thompson Reburied In California; Ketchikan War Hero's Remains
Were Identified After 60 Years - A Ketchikan man, who was
Alaska's first casualty in World War II, is a little closer to
home after being reburied last month in a veteran's cemetery
in California.- More...
Thursday - December 18, 2008
'The Great Influenza' Shut Down Ketchikan; More than a dozen
residents died, but Ketchikan had a milder strain than other
communities in 1918... A Feature Story by DAVE KIFFER - Ninety
years ago on November 23rd, the city of Ketchikan let out a collective
sigh of relief. - More...
Wednesday AM - November 26, 2008
48 The Killer Storm of October, 1918; Hundreds died when 'hurricane" raked the North Coast
- Like most of the
world, the eyes of the residents of the Northern British Columbia
and Southeastern Alaska coast were on Europe in October of 1918.
Saturday PM - October 25, 2008
USS Alaska Saw Action In World War II - Part 2 By DAVE KIFFER
- The third USS Alaska was a battle cruiser, a hybrid vessel
that had much of the weaponry of the 1930s era battleships, but
the also the speed of the smaller cruisers because they were
narrower and carried much less armor protection. - More...
Monday - August 04, 2008
THE BIGGEST WAVE EVER; 50 Years Ago, 1,700 Foot Wave Devastated
Lituya Bay - Alaska is a land of geological superlatives:
Big mountains, vast spaces, huge earthquakes. - More...
Tuesday - July 08, 2008
"Alaskas" Have Sailed In US Fleets - Part 1 - A
Feature Story By DAVE KIFFER - Over the past 140 years,
four American naval vessels have borne the name USS Alaska.,
ranging from a 19th Century war sloop to a 21st century nuclear
Wednesday - June 18, 2008
Photos Show Ketchikan in Pioneer Days - Of the handful
of people who helped Ketchikan grow from a collection of beach
shacks to a city in the early 1900s, one would be hard pressed
to find a more crucial family than the Hunt family, which not
only established one of the earliest businesses, but also documented
the founding of Ketchikan with an extensive photo collection.
Saturday - March 22, 2008
Celebrates Civil Rights Pioneer; Peratrovich's Efforts Pre-Dated
Martin Luther King - Elizabeth Jean Wanamaker Peratrovich
is often referred to as the Martin Luther King of Alaska, but
the truth is she was fighting for equal rights for Alaska Natives
a decade before Martin Luther King gained fame during the Civil
Rights movement. - More...
Monday - February 18, 2008
Year In Review: Plane Crashes, Fires Top 2007 Stories By
DAVE KIFFER - 2007 was a year in which tragedies struck during
the summer visitor season and again right before Christmas. -
Thursday AM - January 03, 2008
Ketchikan's Home Grown Utility; Water, Power and Telephone for
more than 7 Decades By DAVE KIFFER - For more than 70 years,
KPU - or Ketchikan Public Utilities as it is officially known
- has been a constant, and sometimes controversial, presence
in the lives of local residents. - More...
Wednesday AM - December 19, 2007
Building Celebrates 40th Birthday - The Centennial Building
has been the home of the Ketchikan Public Library and the Tongass
Historical Museum for nearly four decades, yet the building itself
and the "urban renewal" project that changed the face
of the area near Ketchikan Creek that it was part of nearly didn't
happen at all. - More...
Wednesday AM - November 21, 2007
Navy Bombed Angoon 125 Years Ago; Attack was later called a 'misunderstanding'
- One hundred and twenty-five years ago , the United States Navy
- then the only governmental authority in Alaska - shelled and
burned the village of Angoon after a dispute and an alleged hostage
situation. - More...
Monday AM - October 29, 2007
Family: From Europe to Ketchikan - When a new Ketchikan library
is eventually built, a big thank you will be owed to a family
that may have had its roots in the upper class circles of Europe
but made its home in our small working class Alaskan town. -
Friday AM - September 28, 2007
Plane Crashes Average One a Year; Changing weather is the frequent
cause - By DAVE KIFFER - The fatal crashes of two floatplanes
in the Ketchikan area this summer is a sad reminder that local
air travel can be a hazardous business. - More...
Saturday - August 25, 2007
to Alaska, Circa 1887"; A Journal of a Trip on the Ancon
and An Eyewitness to the Founding of Metlakatla - A century
ago, "cruise" travel in Alaska was much different from
today. - More...
Tuesday AM - August 07, 2007
Salmon 'War' Was 10 Years Ago - Last fall, a delegation of
Ketchikan officials visited Prince Rupert to get an update on
the Canadian city's new $200 million dollar container port and
to learn how Ketchikan shippers could use the port to send products
abroad. - More...
Thursday - July 19, 2007
Sad Chapter of World War II in Alaska; Aleuts Relocated for Safety,
Yet Many Died At Ward Lake a feature story By DAVE KIFFER
- Sixty Five years ago this month, the Japanese invaded Alaska's
Aleutian Islands.In the grand scheme of World
War II, it was only a feint. The idea was to attack American
"home" territory to draw attention away from the central
Pacific where the Japanese hoped to deal a crippling blow to
U.S. forces at Midway and drive the US Navy back to Pearl Harbor
or even San Francisco. - More...
Saturday - June 23, 2007
Tale of Two Cruise Ships; Whatever Happened to the Rotterdam
and the Polar Star? - In the twenty-first century, nothing
becomes obsolete faster than old cruise ships.In earlier days of "cruising"
it was not unusual for venerable liners like the Queen Mary and
Queen Elizabeth to sail the oceans for decades. Now - in an time
of on board climbing walls and ship-wide wi-fi - passenger liners
seem to be outdated the minute their keels hit the water. - More...
Monday - May 28, 2007
When Ketchikan was the Largest City in Alaska; 80 year old article
catches Ketchikan's boom time - Even in 1927, Ketchikan was
thought of by other Alaskan communities as a "suburb"
of Seattle. - More...
Monday - April 30, 2007
took shape 120 years ago - One hundred and twenty years ago
in March, the quiet of Tongass Narrows was broken by the sound
of hammers and saws. - More...
Saturday - April 07, 2007
Rupert: Hays' 'Orphan' Looks To The Future - When the Titanic
sank in 1912 and more than 1,500 people drowned in the North
Atlantic there were many left orphan on both sides of the Atlantic.
But Charles Melville Hays left the biggest orphan of all: The
nascent city of Prince Rupert. - More...
Wednesday AM - February 28, 2007
Famous Artist Runs Aground In Loring - On August 28,
1889, the side-wheel steamer Ancon made one of its regular stops
in the small village on Loring in Naha Bay on Revillagigedo Island,
20 miles north of what would later become Ketchikan. It was heading
back south after a run up the Inside Passage from Port Townsend,
Washington to Sitka, Juneau, Fort Wrangell and Chilcat (Klukwan).
Tuesday PM - February 13, 2007
Am: Once Ketchikan's Link to the Outside World - In 1991,
the original Pan American World Airways ceased operations. After
going under in December of 1991, Pan American World Airways'
name was purchased out of bankruptcy court. - More...
Friday - December 29, 2006
Longest Serving Ketchikan Mayor - When Bob Weinstein completes
his current term as Ketchikan City Mayor in 2009, he will be
the longest serving mayor in Ketchikan's history with 12 years
in office. - More...
Wednesday - November 29, 2006
50 Years, The Shamrock's Luck Finally Ran Out - Taxes
helped spell the death of one Ketchikan's most infamous watering
holes in the early 1980s, but not without a little a help from
undercover cops, religious leaders and a "Modern Day Queen
of the Nile." - More...
Wednesday - November 15, 2006
Shuttered: Ketchikan Photo Shop was nearly 80 years old. Feature
story By DAVE KIFFER - One of longest lasting businesses in Ketchikan
history is ending its run this winter according to current owner
Joe Shinn, but at least there will be plenty of photographs to
remember it by. - More...
Wednesday PM - October 18, 2006
'Wickersham' sailed on after leaving Alaska - Although the
MV Wickersham was only part of the Alaska Marine Highway System
for five years, many locals still fondly recall its stately figure
cruising the Inside Passage. - More...
Wednesday - October 11, 2006
Family Returns to Guard Island - From the time it was built
in the early 1900s to the time it was automated in the 1970s,
dozens of people lived on tiny Guard Island at the northern end
of Tongass Narrows near Vallenar Point on Gravina Island. Last
year, a family that had lived on the island in 1950s came back
for a visit. - More...
Tuesday - September 19, 2006
First State Election Was All Tied Up - Once upon a time,
Alaska was a very Democratic state, politically speaking. - More...
Monday - September 18, 2006
Look Back At Alaska's Worst Unsolved Mass Murder - A morning
fog blanketed Craig on Sept. 7, 1982.The nearly 75 boats in the
District 4 seine fleet had left port for a next-day opening in
the waters west of Craig near Noyes Island. A few boats were
still at the dock awaiting the inevitable repairs that are needed
during the hectic, brief summer openings. - More...
Wednesday - September 06, 2006
Iwo Jima to Icy Strait, the long, colorful history of the Acushnet
- The Ketchikan based cutter Acushnet celebrates its 60th
birthday in the US Coast Guard this week, but it faces an uncertain
future. - More...
Wednesday - August 23, 2006
Founding of Metlakatla By DAVE KIFFER - Nearly 120 years
ago today, an American coastal steamer pulled into Port Chester
on the west side of Annette Island. On board the "Ancon"
was the federal commissioner of education Nathaniel H.R. Dawson
who was on a tour of educational facilities in the territory.
Monday AM - August 07, 2006
ONCE KETCHIKAN'S PRINCIPAL INDUSTRY By DAVE KIFFER - These
days, when millions of dollars worth of non-native gemstones
are sold each summer in Ketchikan, it pays to remember that once
upon a time mining was the principal industry in town.- More...
Friday - July 28, 2006
GRAND SHIPS OF THE ALASKA MARINE HIGHWAY SYSTEM By DAVE KIFFER
- By all accounts, it was one of the largest traffic jams in
Ketchikan's history. - More...
Friday - July 07, 2006
Federal Building Added to National Register of Historic Places - To some locals it is the "Big Pink."The workers within its walls
often call it the "Pepto (Bismo) Palace." - More...
Wednesday - June 15, 2006
Sparhawk Young: Woman Pioneer By DAVE KIFFER - The history
of Ketchikan is full of stories of the pioneering men who built
the community out of the rainforest. But little is known about
the pioneer women who also made Ketchikan what it is today. -
Wednesday - May 31, 2006
Long Day's Journey into Behm Canal - It takes a special event
to get nearly 400 Ketchikan residents out of bed and standing
in line at 7 in the morning. - More...
Tuesday - April 25, 2006
Heckman, Captain Sayles and the San Francisco Earthquake
- A century ago today, a massive earthquake devastated San Francisco
area. It - and the fires that followed - wiped out more than
half of the city of 400,000 people. More than 28,000 buildings
and 500 city blocks were destroyed. Contemporary accounts downplayed
the loss of life, but modern estimates place the death toll at
nearly 4,000 people. - More...
Tuesday - April 18, 2006
Erwicks of Ketchikan - In the first two decades of the 20th
Century several hundred Norwegian families migrated to Southeast
Alaska, primarily to take part in the fishing industry. - More...
Tuesday - March 21, 2006
Town, Ketchikan in the 1950s - The years immediately after
World War II were lean ones in Ketchikan.While the Depression had had
less of an effect here than elsewhere in the country, the economic
boost of the war years had artificially supported the local economy.
With the end of the war, it became obvious that the dominant
industry - the canned salmon industry - was in sharp decline
and as the fishing industry waned so did Ketchikan. - More...
Monday - February 20, 2006
Village of Port Gravina By DAVE KIFFER - Every so often Ketchikan
residents - squeezed between Tongass Narrows and the mountains
- look over at the relatively flat bench land of Gravina Island
and wonder "why didn't someone build a town over there?"
Saturday - February 04, 2006
IN REVIEW: 2005 - Gravina Bridge story spans country2005 was the year in which
Ketchikan and its "bridge to nowhere" were national
news. - More....
Friday - December 30, 2006
Grounding of the Princess Sophia - There was a light dusting
of snow on downtown Juneau as John Fraser "Jack" Pugh
waited at the steamship wharf for the arrival of the Canadian
Pacific steamship Princess Sophia shortly after dark of Oct.
22, 1918. - More...
Monday - December 05, 2005
Ferries To Gravina - While the "Bridge to Nowhere"
steals all the headlines, Ketchikan's airport ferries continue
to chug back and forth to the Ketchikan International Airport
as they have a dozen or more times a day for the past 30 years.
Thursday - November 17, 2005
of Alaska's Death Penalty - In 1938, a Native woman was murdered
on a hillside above what is now Tatsuda Way in Ketchikan. Her
killer - her son-in-law - became the only Ketchikan man to ever
be executed for first degree murder. And the execution - along
with a handful of others in the territory - helped convinced
officials to ban the death penalty when Alaska became a state
20 years later. - More...
Saturday - October 15, 2005
RIPPLE ROCK - Half a century ago, sailing the Inside Passage
from Seattle to Alaska wasn't as safe as it is today. A pair
of dangerous underwater peaks jointly called Ripple Rock created
severe whirlpools in the waters near Vancouver Island, sinking
numerous ships and claiming more than 100 lives. It took the
largest non-nuclear explosion in history to finally end the threat.
Friday - September 23, 2005
HEIGHTS, TODAY'S DEERMOUNT - Only the truly old-timers remember
when the neighborhood now called Deermount was known as Mahoney
Heights. - More...
Wednesday - September 07, 2005
Over A Century Old - In the mid 1890s, Ketchikan was a still
a collection of rough shacks gathered around Clark and Martin's
mercantile store just north of the Ketchikan Creek mudflats.
The town population was somewhere between 100 and 200 people,
but less than half of that were year round residents. - More...
Thursday - August 18, 2005
War II: 60th Anniversary - Sixty years ago this week World
War II was about to come a sudden end, but like most other Americans,
Ketchikan residents were preparing for many more months of sacrifice. - More...
Thursday - August 04, 2005
Giegers in them thar hills; Bokan Mountain and the Alaska uranium
"Boom" - Fifty years ago this month, Mrs. John
Thomas of Ballston Spa, New York performed a historic act. According
to the Associated Press, she turned on her electric stove and
cooked a hamburger. -
Copyright 2005-2018 Dave Kiffer
Sunday - July 10, 2005
All Rights Reserved