The Schoenbar Trail is looking at a rise in prominence.
The trail for decades amounted to a break in the trees, the place for a City of Ketchikan water main.
It is likely about to become a visitor attraction, with the Ketchikan Gateway Borough — in conjunction with the Ketchikan Arts and Humanities Council — placing a KichXaan Heeni canoe at the trail’s juncture with Harris Street. The trail extends from behind Schoenbar Middle School to Grant Street.
Presently, the Borough Assembly has the canoe project on its Monday agenda.
The trail is within city limits, but the borough has parks and recreation powers across the community.
The trail used to be a most-often muddy path between the school and Grant Street. Middle school students and ball players living in the downtown sloshed through it or hopped from one rock or stump to the next to stay out of the mud in hopes of saving time on the way to and from school or the nearby Norman Walker ballfields. (This was before the Shane Howard White Skate Park next to Schoenbar.)
Brush grew close to the trail, which made it dark, especially in the rain. It was like many trails, with discarded items occasionally littering it and the surrounding area, evidence that a few youth chose to smoke and drink there.
At some point in the past half century, the trail received an asphalt surface and had its brush cut back to increase openness and enable light to filtrate through.
It didn’t take long for visitors off the spring and summertime cruise ships to find the trail, and it’s with them in mind that the trail might be about to enter its next regeneracy.
Should the canoe project proceed, the Arts Council would contract with an artist to create it. Then, the canoe would be suspended above the trail, which is parallel to Ketchikan Creek. The creek itself is significant in Ketchikan’s Native history and renown for salmon in late summer. The canoe would be illuminated.
One day the trail could be incorporated into what is described as a Salmon Walk (the length of the creek), from Ketchikan Creek to Married Man’s Trail, Park Avenue, Harris Street, the Schoenbar Trail and the Totem Heritage Center near the ballfields.
The borough would maintain the project upon its completion, according to the proposed agreement with the Arts Council that will be before the Assembly, and, with its participation and the tourists’ interest, cruise passenger vessel funds could be used to cover that cost. Essentially, the tourists would be paying the borough’s expenses related to the project.
It all sounds lovely, keeping other uses of the trail in mind. Occasionally, it is opened to equipment too heavy for the wooden trestle on Grant Street. This equipment is used to maintain the upper end of Grant Street and its driveways. When the canoe project is designed and how to place the canoe is discussed, an avenue should be allowed for this situation.
But the canoe project would delight tourists, and it also would enhance a trail that downtown Ketchikan in particular has used for decades.
The project would well serve locals, too.