President Theodore Roosevelt signed the bill on 22 May 1902 for Crater Lake National Park to become nation's fifth oldest park.
Size and Visitation
Acreage - as of September 23, 2000
Federal Land - 183,223.77
Non-Federal Land - .28
Gross Area Acres - 183,224.05
Visitation - 1999
Total Recreation Visits - 417,992
About a half million people visit the park each year, with Jul and Aug being the busiest months.
The Klamaths revered the lake and the surrounding area, keeping it undiscovered by white explorers until 1853. That year, on June 12, three gold prospectors, John Wesley Hillman, Henry Klippel, and Isaac Skeeters, came upon a long, sloping mountain. Upon reaching its highest point, a huge, awe-inspiring lake was visible. "This is the bluest lake we've ever seen," they reported, and named it Deep Blue Lake. But gold was more on the minds of settlers at the time and the discovery was soon forgotten.
Captain Clarence Dutton was the next man to make a discovery at Crater Lake. Dutton commanded a U.S. Geological Survey party which carried the Cleetwood, a half-ton survey boat, up the steep slopes of the mountain then lowered it to the lake. From the stern of the Cleetwood, a piece of pipe on the end of a spool of piano wire sounded the depth of the lake at 168 differnt points. Dutton's soundings of 1,996 feet were amazingly close to the sonar readings made in 1959 that established the lake's deepest point at 1,932 feet.
William Gladstone Steel, the father of Crater Lake National Park, devoted his life and fortune to the establishment and management of Crater Lake National Park. He had been preoccupied with Crater Lake since 1870 when he was a sixteen year old boy in Kansas. He learned of Crater Lake by reading a newspaper that was use to wrap his lunch. Two years later he moved to Oregon and in 1885 he and a druggist named John Beck joined a group headed for Crater Lake.
When the two men, Steel and Beck finally spotted the lake, the water was so blue it startled them. "All ingenuity of nature seems to have been exerted to the fullest capacity to build a grand awe-inspiring temple the likes of which the world has never seen before," said Steel. His involvement with Crater Lake covered 49 years. After it was made a national park, he realized his work had just begun.
In his efforts to bring recognition to the park, he participated in lake surveys that provided scientific support. He named many of the lake's landmarks, including Wizard Island, Llao Rock, and Skell Head.
Steel's dream was realized on May 22, 1902 when President Theodore Roosevelt signed the bill giving Crater Lake national park status. And because of Steel's involvement, Crater Lake Lodge was opened in 1915 and the Rim Drive was completed in 1918.
The clean, clear, cold lakewater contained no fish until they were introduced by humans from 1888 to 1941. Today, rainbow trout and kokanee salmon still survive in Crater Lake. Wildflowers bloom late and disappear early here, thriving in wet, open areas. Birds and other animals often seen are ravens, jays, nutcrackers, deer, ground squirrels and chipmunks. Present but seldom seen are elk, black bear, foxes, porcupines, pine martens, chickaree squirrels and pikas.
Crater Lake was the basis of much local Native American legend, as the stories of its creation have been passed down through the centuries. Local Native Americans witnessed the collapse of Mount Mazama and kept the event alive in their legends. One ancient legend of the Klamath people closely parallels the geologic story which emerges from today's scientific research. The legend tells of two Chiefs, Llao of the Below World and Skell of the Above World, pitted in a battle which ended up in the destruction of Llao's home, Mt. Mazama. The battle was witnessed in the eruption of Mt. Mazama and the creation of Crater Lake.
Crater Lake National Park stands at or near the territorial boundaries of four Indian peoples. To the east and southeast lay the lands of the Klamath, to the southwest the lands of the Takelma, to the west the lands of the Upper Umpqua, and to the northwest the lands of the Molala.
Native peoples of the region travelled to the Crater Lake area for many purposes. The Park environs were used for both hunting and gathering. Huckleberry Mountain, an important gathering site for the Klamath, lies about ten miles southwest of the lake. Nonetheless, the primary significance of Crater Lake appears to have been as a place of power and danger, renowned as a spirit quest site, yet also feared for the dangerous beings residing in the lake.
For the Klamath, spirit power could be found in many sources, among these "such natural features as mountains, streams, rocks, or even landmarks like Crater Lake". The ritual significance of giwas, or Crater Lake, reflects a more general Klamath understanding of the natural world, involving not only reverence but the capacity for significant interaction with certain mountains, lakes, and streams, as the individual sought comfort, assistance, or power.
Shamans in historic time forbade most Indians to view the lake, and Indians said nothing about it to trappers and pioneers, who for 50 years did not find it.
The lake was formed after the collapse of an ancient volcano, posthumously named Mount Mazama. This volcano violently erupted approximately 7,700 years ago. That eruption was 42 times as powerful as the 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens. The basin or caldera was formed after the top 5,000 feet of the volcano collapsed. Subsequent lava flows sealed the bottom, allowing the caldera to fill with approximately 4.6 trillion gallons of water from rainfall and snow melt, to create the seventh deepest lake in the world at 1,932 feet.
Rolling mountains, volcanic peaks, and evergreen forests surround this enormous, high Cascade Range lake, recognized worldwide as a scenic wonder. On summer days, neither words or photographs can capture Crater Lake's remarkable blueness. For much of the year, usually October to July at higher elevations, a thick blanket of snow encircles the lake. Snowfall provides most of the park's annual 66 inches of precipitation.
Crater Lake rarely freezes over completely; it last did in 1949. Heat from the summer sun stored in the immense body of water retards ice formation throughout the winter. On the earth clock, natural forces only recently constructed this landscape. Lava flows first formed a high plateau base on which explosive eruptions then built the Cascade volcanoes. Humans probably witnessed the cataclysmic eruption of Mount Mazama about 7,700 years ago.
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