Ketchikan in Ketchikan Gateway Borough, Alaska — Northwest (North America)
South Front Street
Ketchikan Grows Up Downtown
(Top photo) Illegible
The young city of Ketchikan (remainder illegible)
The Sideboard Saloon was operated by town co-founder Mike Martin from early in the century until 1917, when the city bought him out and tore down the building to widen Dock Street's approach to the wharf, where steamship-borne commerce was growing even faster than the tavern trade. From around 1910, the next-door Grand Theater exhibited silent movies where the Alaska Restaurant had been. By 1913, the Cross Theater was in business at this address. Four different movie houses and a vaudeville stage operated downtown 1905-1925, but only the Coliseum lived to the '50s.
Ryus Drug Co. staff pose framed by postcards and the Saturday Evening Post around 1915. The pioneer pharmacy was opened in 1901 by J.R. Beegle. Joseph Emmett Ryus bought the business in 1906 and expanded it into the former Grand Theater building in 1917. Ryus Drug was a mainstay downtown for more than five decades until the arson fire of January 1958 that destroyed the Ferris block.
[Right side, top to bottom]
Front Street stroll Alice and Julia Kincaid flank the visiting Ann Wilson of Reno, Nevada in August 1913. Lazing dogs and an idled boat belied the bustle of the frontier. Hard-rock mining and salmon canning were dominant industries. The young town's restaurants and saloons did brisk trade, as did hotels such as the turreted Reville.
1914 fire map is a snapshot of a district that tended to change very often.
Fire, fast and furious, took out the Ketchikan Wharf Co. block in two hours in June, 1941. Lost: steamship offices, Walker Drug Co., Charles Insurance, Hunt Bookstore, Kubley lounge.
Tongass Trading: First of its type and built to last Ketchikan was a rough-hewn outpost when Tongass Trading Co. opened in 1898. But the decade-old town boasted nearly 800 people and was ready for a big general store. In fact, J.R. Heckman & Co. opened just a year behind Tongass Trading and proved the populace could support two big department stores. Tongass Trading Co. put up its
Portal to the First City's future
A crowd gathers in 1951 for dedication of a new welcome arch over Mission Street at Front Street. It was more than just a neon greeting to steamship-borne tourists. It was a portal into a new era in the First City. The old days were hard-rock mining, fish traps and territorial administration. The 1950s were a timber industry, burgeoning tourism and paved streets; they were a pulp mill, Pan-American Airways and, in 1959, statehood. In 1996 the community put up a new welcome arch that replicated an earlier model — a tip of the hat to earlier generations' portals and passages.
Erected by Historic Ketchikan, Inc. • The Waterfall Group, Ltd. (sponsor) • The Ingersoll Hotel (sponsor) • Schallerer's Photo and Gift Shop (sponsor).
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & Commerce • Waterways & Vessels.
Location. 55° 20.445′ N, 131° 38.784′ W. Marker is in Ketchikan, Alaska, in Ketchikan Gateway Borough. Marker is at the intersection of Front Street and Mill Street, on the right when traveling south on Front Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Ketchikan AK 99901, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Spirit & Sparks (here, next to this marker); Trials by Fire (here, next to this marker); Ketchikan Waterfront from Pennock Island, 1905 (within shouting distance of this marker); When 'Steam was Queen' (within shouting distance of this marker); Proud Canoes & Coastal Traders (within shouting distance of this marker); Star-crossed Square Riggers (within shouting distance of this marker); Tongass Trading Company (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Gilmore Hotel (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Ketchikan.
Credits. This page was last revised on November 16, 2021. It was originally submitted on September 16, 2021, by Duane and Tracy Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 149 times since then and 55 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on September 16, 2021, by Duane and Tracy Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.