CHAPTER FOURTEEN: Maintenance Activities In Crater Lake National Park: 1916-Present

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

 CHAPTER FOURTEEN: Maintenance Activities In Crater Lake National Park: 1916-Present


During the early years of National Park Service administration, maintenance activities at Crater Lake National Park were performed by seasonal crews under the direct supervision of the park superintendent. Many of the laborers were young men who worked in the park during their summer school vacations. Local sawmills provided stiff competition, however, by paying higher wages. Thus it was often difficult for Superintendent Sparrow to find plentiful labor. Nevertheless he reported in 1922 that he hired “a crew of from 30 to 40 men” for “general maintenance and construction work” between July 1 and September 30. During the summer of 1923 about 50 men were employed for similar purposes. [1]

A report prepared by Sparrow in August 1920 provides a glimpse into the nature and extent of maintenance activities in the park during the early years. Some 49 miles of park roads were repaired and regraded during fiscal year 1920 at a cost of $4,862.97 or $99.24 per mile. The cost of administration for the road maintenance was $190.37 or 3.91 percent of the total. The roads to Crater Lake Lodge were cleared of snow by June 26, and the Rim Road around the lake was cleared of snow on August 2, the latter being accomplished with “a liberal use of T.N.T. to remove deep drifts.” The snow removal efforts were aided by personnel of the park concessionaire.

Twenty-three miles of trail were cleared and repaired, the most costly being the 1.2-mile stretch from the rim to the boat landing where many slides occurred every spring. The trails were maintained and repaired at a cost of $694.48 or $30.20 per mile. The cost of administration of the trail work was $11.12 or 1.6 percent of the total. The trails maintained were Watchman, Garfield, Wizard Island, Rim to Lake, Copeland Creek, Dewie, Anna Spring to Rim, and Union Peak.

Building maintenance during fiscal year 1920 was carried out at a cost of $719.62. The superintendent’s residence at Anna Spring and the ranger’s cottage at the south entrance were repaired and painted. The log rangers’ cabins at the east and west entrances were varnished, and the roofs of all buildings, including those at Government Camp, were painted.

Fifty-four miles of telephone line, thirty-four of which was of temporary construction, was repaired and kept in operation during the working season. Eight miles were maintained all year. Total cost of telephone line maintenance was $373.87 or $6.92 per mile.

Seven free campgrounds were maintained at a cost of $383. The campgrounds were located at the Rim, Anna Spring, Cold Spring, White Horse, Lost Creek, Wheeler Creek, and Munson’s Meadow. [2]

In his annual report for 1922 Sparrow devoted considerable attention to maintenance operations in the park. His discussion included sections on roads, trails, telephone system, buildings, and miscellaneous maintenance and improvements:


Clearing the roads of snow in the spring, replacing wood culverts with galvanized iron, repairing bridges, and constant regrading and graveling of the more badly worn sections of the 57 miles comprising the park road system, requires a crew of 30 men and 12 to 16 horses throughout the season, besides motor trucks and other equipment. But even with the expenditure that this entails there are some stretches of road that are so dusty and rutted, owing to the ash-like texture of the soil, that it is a hardship to ride over them.


There are 34 miles of trails in the park system, made up of 11 short units of which the shortest is three-quarters and the longest 8 miles in length. About two-thirds of the funds allotted for trail maintenance are expended on the trail from Crater Lake Lodge to the boat landing on the lake, 1-1/4 miles, but at least four-fifths of the travel by trail is over this section. . . .