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VIsiting Downtown Ketchikan, Alaska: The Rock — Conspicuous Public Art Sculpted by Dave Rubin, Unveiled in 2010

Updated on February 4, 2020
State flag of Alaska
State flag of Alaska | Source
Downtown Ketchikan with Deer mountain at dusk.
Downtown Ketchikan with Deer mountain at dusk. | Source

Representing various aspects of the history of Alaska's First City

In Downtown Ketchikan, Alaska, at Berth 1, unveiled in 2010, stands a striking sculpture named 'The Rock'. It depicts seven figures each representing aspects of Ketchikan's past.

The work, executed in bronze, is by Dave Rubin (1), assisted by Terry Pyles and Judy Rubin.

'The Rock''s various figures are life-size, and represent the following:

Chief Johnson, The Logger; The Fisher, The Miner, The Aviator, A Native Elder Woman, and an Elegant Lady (2). Thus, prominent Native Alaskans, the logging, fishing and mining industries, the historic, great reliance locally on air links and — despite its relative isolation — its maintenance as a centre for cosmopolitan fashion are all included in the work.

'The Rock' is tastefully floodlit at night.

Many thousands of visitors to Ketchikan, Alaska have become familiar with this strategically placed work of art, given its proximity to the quayside where cruise liners berth.

In the photo which I have supplied, above, the sculpture is depicted close to a highly visible, illuminated sign welcoming visitors to the City — traditionally known as Alaska's First City. The sign reads: "Welcome to Alaska's 1st City KETCHIKAN The Salmon Capital of the World". The photo also shows imposing Deer Mountain, with its peak in the clouds, which overlooks Downtown Ketchikan.

'The Rock" was the fruits of collaborative planning by Ketchikan Area Arts and Humanities Council, the Greater Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce and the City of Ketchikan.

Indeed, the City of Ketchikan has been active in budgeting for the support of projects of public art.

Ketchikan Visitors' Bureau

'The Rock' stands adjacent to Ketchikan Visitors' Bureau (3), a log structure which contains a mine of information for the traveller. (I myself was also glad of its function as a shelter from the seemingly ever-present Alaskan rain...) But do not let the rain dissuade you: having been to Ketchikan, I would indeed be inclined to go again to this distinctive, fresh and spectacularly located destination.

February 4, 2020


(1) Principally an artist engaged in painting, Dave Rubin has here proved very versatile at sculpture also.

(2) See also:

(3) Mailing address for Ketchikan's Visitor Center is: 50 Front St., Suite 203 Ketchikan, AK 99901; website: ; this website contains a prolific amount of information about local attractions.

Map location of Ketchikan Gateway Borough, Alaska, United States
Map location of Ketchikan Gateway Borough, Alaska, United States | Source

Also worth seeing

In Ketchikan itself, visitors to the city often frequent the many gift stores specializing in Native Alaskan and other artwork; First Lutheran Church in Newtown was built in 1930 principally on account of the city's Norwegian population; St. John's Episcopal Church dates from 1904; the city is well known for its totem poles; nearby Deer Mountain overlooks the City.

Misty Fiords National Monument (distance: 64 kilometres / 40 miles), governed by the US Forest Service, consists of 9,246 km2 / 2,294,343 acres of often near vertical glacial valleys, some of which rise to 600 to 900 metres / 2,000 to 3,000 feet above sea level and descend to 300 metres / 1000 feet below it; boat and floatplane tours [NB: Please check the FAA status of these floatplane tours] are organized from Ketchikan.

How to get there

Alaska Airlines and Delta Connection fly to Ketchikan International Airport, (distance — travel via ferry — from Downtown Ketchikan: 2 kilometres / 1.43 miles) from Seattle/Tacoma, WA, with wide North American connections; Princess Cruises and other cruise companies offer services to Ketichikan, often on a seasonal basis; some facilities may be withdrawn without notice. You are advised to refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada


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