http://www.digitaljournal.com/life/travel/creek-street-ketchikan-s-historic-red-light-district/article/452722

Photo Essay: Creek Street, Ketchikan historic red-light district Special

Posted Dec 20, 2015 by Igor I. Solar
Ketchikan, a historic town built along the seafront on Tongass Narrows, is known as "the salmon capital of the world," but its past evokes an infamous village which in the first half of the 19th Century was known as “the Pacific Coast's wickedest city".
A notorious brothel known as Dolly’s  located at 24 Creek Street (light-green house on the right) ...
A notorious brothel known as Dolly’s, located at 24 Creek Street (light-green house on the right), was run by Dolly Arthur, Ketchikan’s most famous madam.
Ketchikan, Alaska, is a photographer’s paradise. Several beautiful natural locations provide plenty of opportunities for wonderful images. The town is located within the Tongass National Forest, a 69,000-square kilometer rainforest full of western red cedar, Sitka spruce, and western hemlock. The old-growth forest is crossed by many rivers and waterfalls inhabited by five species of salmon. On the hills live brown and black bears, mountain goats and black-tailed deer; the skies are full of bald eagles, Tufted Puffins, and marbled murrelets. Among the most spectacular natural sights are the blue lakes, the snow-capped mountaintops, and the mist-shrouded sea cliffs of Misty Fjords National Monument.
Ketchikan was founded in 1885 as a salmon cannery site near the mouth of Ketchikan Creek. As such, in the beginning, the town’s main economic activity was fishing. Later on, in the late 1800s and the first decade of the 1900’s, the Klondike gold-rush attracted a diverse crowd of miners and merchants of mining supplies, gamblers and crooks, bootleggers and saloon owners, and with them of course also came “working women” ready to make their own fortune in the gold-rush era.
Historic Creek Street is a boardwalk supported by wooden stilts on a high slope mostly on the east b...
Historic Creek Street is a boardwalk supported by wooden stilts on a high slope mostly on the east bank Ketchikan Creek.
Ketchikan’s red-light district  known as Creek Street  was built haphazardly on pilings over Ketch...
Ketchikan’s red-light district, known as Creek Street, was built haphazardly on pilings over Ketchikan Creek.
A bridge over the creek s rapids located at the end of Creek Street.
A bridge over the creek's rapids located at the end of Creek Street.
Ketchikan’s red-light district, known as Creek Street, was built haphazardly on pilings over Ketchikan Creek. Miners, salmon and halibut fishermen, sawmill, and cannery workers from all over southern Alaska came for entertainment and female companionship to what was by then known as “the worst pest-hole in America”.
By 1920, at least 21 brothels with no less than 37 prostitutes operated on Creek Street. The ill-reputed neighborhood on the boardwalk by the river developed and prospered from the 1920’s to the 1950’s. A notorious brothel known as Dolly’s, located at 24 Creek Street, was run by Dolly Arthur, Ketchikan’s most famous madam.
Thelma Dolly Copeland was born in 1888. She grew up in Idaho and endured a miserable childhood. At age 13 she left home, moved to Montana and then to Vancouver, BC, where she became embroiled in an unhappy love affair. While working as a waitress, Thelma was often hounded by male admirers. She sagely concluded that negotiating the affections of men could be more profitable than waiting on tables. In 1919, she changed her name to Dolly Arthur, moved north to Ketchikan, and set up her own business at 24 Creek Street.
Dolly Arthur  moved to Ketchikan in 1919  and set up her own business at 24 Creek Street. Dolly s li...
Dolly Arthur, moved to Ketchikan in 1919, and set up her own business at 24 Creek Street. Dolly's liquor and prostitution business operated at the light-green house on the right side of the picture.
The old boardwalk has been restored and the former “houses of ill repute” are now souvenir shops...
The old boardwalk has been restored and the former “houses of ill repute” are now souvenir shops and art galleries.
At a time when prostitution was legal, but liquor sales were not, Dolly operated a highly lucrative business that combined the clandestine sale of alcohol as the main enticement and the sex trade as a sideline.
The brothels on Creek Street closed down in 1954, but Dolly continued living at 24 Creek Street until frail health forced her to spend the last year of her life in a nursing home. She died on July 1975 at the age of 87.
Currently, Dolly’s House is a museum full of antiques, old photographs, and memorabilia of her life. The old boardwalk has been restored and the former “houses of ill repute” are now souvenir shops and art galleries. The ancient fish cannery no longer exists, but the salmon are still swimming upstream Ketchikan Creek.
The ancient salmon cannery and saltery no longer exists  but the salmon are still swimming upstream ...
The ancient salmon cannery and saltery no longer exists, but the salmon are still swimming upstream Ketchikan Creek to reproduce and die.
These rapids are near the top of the boardwalk of Creek Street. Salmon must swim upstream to reach t...
These rapids are near the top of the boardwalk of Creek Street. Salmon must swim upstream to reach the spawning grounds in the upper reaches of the Ketchikan Creek.
Lots of seagulls spend time on the banks of the creek to try their luck at catching salmon.
Lots of seagulls spend time on the banks of the creek to try their luck at catching salmon.
In 2014, the legendary Creek Street Historic District of Ketchikan, Alaska, was listed on the United States National Register of Historic Places.