CHAPTER SEVENTEEN: Planning and Development at Rim Village: 1886 – present D. Post War Planning: 1942-1956

Crater Lake National Park: Administrative History by Harlan D. Unrau and Stephen Mark, 1987

 CHAPTER SEVENTEEN: Planning and Development at Rim Village: 1886 – present
 D. Post War Planning: 1942-1956

With the onset of World War II, planning responsibilities began to be shared with park staff. Although little seemed to result from these efforts, a fundamental shift in the NPS perception of Rim Village began to occur. Plans aimed at building a visitor center within what was going to be a day use area were eventually shelved, however, in favor of additional concession development in the mid 1950s.

The outbreak of World War II resulted in the dissolution of the CCC. This depleted the NPS of the manpower it needed to keep the master plans updated on a yearly basis. Although the large colored sheets in the plans for Crater Lake went without an update from 1941 to 1947, development outlines (which were an expansion of the narrative in master plans) were produced and revised during the war. The 1942 master plan proposed that the Rim Campground be converted to a picnic area because the overnight use was seriously damaging the vegetation. [31] A study was launched less than a year later to determine whether the campground was to be relocated to a site about one mile northwest of Rim Village. [32]

Connected with the campground relocation study was a proposal to build a tunnel from the new site to the lakeshore. Condemned by some NPS officials as mutilation, Director Newton Drury ruled out further consideration of a tunnel or elevator to the lake’s surface in early 1944. [33]

The question of how to best facilitate the visitor experience at Crater Lake remained. In 1943, there was a proposal to relocate the concession’s service station in Munson Valley to a site next to the cafeteria, but Superintendent Leavitt was in favor of a site west of the wye that separated Rim Village from the Rim Drive. [34] Some improvements were made to the Munson Valley facility in 1948, but the proposal would resurface again in the master plans of the mid 1950s. Another government contact building was designed by NPS architect Cecil Doty in 1943. Doty incorporated a museum, an exhibit area, and office space into a two story, multi-purpose structure. [35]

The “museum” proposal encountered opposition from E.A. Davidson, regional chief of planning (Crater Lake had been part of the NPS’s Region Four, headquartered in San Francisco, since 1937). Davidson objected to the possibility that the building’s size might approach “monumental character” and that it would increase congestion at Rim Village.[36] Leavitt, however, supported Doty’s design in a memorandum to Regional Director O.A. Tomlinson. He was convinced that the building would be a good example of “package” development (an idea that was being advocated by Davidson’s department) so that the need for other, smaller buildings dotting the landscape would be eliminated.[37]

Connected with this proposed “package” development was a prospectus for the building. This arose from the realization by NPS planners that development had been the ultimate result of master plans, so there had to be a statement of requirements for the proposed development. [38] The prospectus was to include an examination of the need for the development(s), an analysis of local factors (including the physical environment, visitation, and location of the proposal), an outline of the proposed development, and an estimate of costs. [39] A prospectus for the proposed government contact building was first prepared in 1942, and revised in 1947 by the park’s Chief Naturalist George Ruhle.[40]

In his revision, Ruhle mentions that it was NPS policy to bar any structure between the parking area and the rim of the caldera. This seemingly confined the proposed government contact building to the site first selected by Vint in 1926. In carrying this policy further, Crater Lake’s 1948 operations prospectus recommended that the NPS should be:

prepared to eventually condemn the existing public accommodations on the Rim and refuse to permit any rebuilding of such accommodations within the park area with the possible exception of a lunch room which could be located as to provide year-round, simple meal service and would not encroach upon the featured portion of the park. [41]