Ketchikan is the first city on the Inside Passage of south-east Alaska, situated on the island of Revillagigedo. The buildings of the town are set into steep hills, partly propped on wooden pilings, with boardwalks, wooden staircases and totem poles dotted throughout. By 1886, white settlers had opened the first of dozens of canneries in what was soon to be the 'salmon capital of the world'. Forests of cedar, hemlock and spruce, which had provided timber for Tlingit homes and totems, also fed the town's sawmills. The timber and fishing industries have declined, and with the closure of the antiquated pulp mill in 1997, the town is now known more as a beautiful tourist attraction, giving a wonderful insight into Tlingit culture.
Native culture and art flourishes throughout Alaska, and perhaps no more so than in Ketchikan. Totem poles, dances, and tribal houses are all accessible from the town, most only a short walk or drive away. In town, the Totem Heritage Centre is not to be missed, with its large display of poles that were found in abandoned villages. North of town is Totem Bight State Park, which boasts another collection of famous poles along with a native community house.