Rehabilitation of Highway 62 West, Crater Lake National Park, Klamath County, Oregon
This section provides a brief summary of the historic context of the project area and the known cultural resources within it.
The earliest constructed route in the vicinity of Highway 62 was built by the United States Army in 1865 to connect Fort Klamath with the Rogue River Valley. The military used and maintained this road for a period of about 30 years. Following the abandonment of Fort Klamath in 1890, maintenance of the route fell to the care of private citizens who were interested in keeping the route open to reach livestock markets and railroad access in the Rogue Valley. After the creation of Crater Lake National Park in 1902, William F. Arant (first park superintendent) recommended improvements to park roads. Soon after his arrival on duty, Superintendent Arant surveyed and located the entrance road to the park following the general alignment of the Fort Klamath-Jacksonville wagon road. The following year, improvements to the wagon road, in the form of bridges, leveling the grade, and straightening a number of short turns were made. (NPS Unrau, Administrative History, Crater Lake, 1991). In 1906, work was begun on a realignment of the upper portion of the wagon road within the park near Annie Springs Junction to improve the road grade and construct a new road surface.
Upon completion of the new road segments, stretches of the old wagon road were no longer maintained. Around 1910, park roads became the responsibility of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Army Corps conducted a comprehensive survey of park roads in 1911. The road system proposed by the engineers included realignment of major sections of the old Fort Klamath-Jacksonville wagon road within the park. By this time the wagon road had become little more than a narrow, rutted track cut through the trees and brush and eroded into the soft volcanic soils by as much as 2 to 3 feet. Over the next five years, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers carried out some improvements to park roads consisting mainly of rough grading. In 1919, the Army Corps turned responsibility for road construction and maintenance over to the National Park Service, and in the 1920s, improvements, including realignment and widening of park roads occurred. Large segments of the west entrance road were relocated away from the original alignment of the Fort Klamath-Jacksonville wagon road. In 1925, “…6.8 miles of the Medford (West) entrance were realigned, grades and curvatures reduced, and two bridges replaced with fills” (NPS Unrau, Administrative History, Crater Lake, 1991). Due to the realignment of the park’s west entrance road away from the old wagon road, segments of the Fort Klamath-Jacksonville wagon road remain intact. The National Park Service recommends, and the Oregon SHPO concurred on 16 June 2003, that the Fort Klamath-Jacksonville wagon road is eligible for the NRHP.
In 1926, National Park Service engineers revised the road program for the park and coordinated their activities with the Bureau of Public Roads, which took over the responsibility of road construction in the park. In 1926, as a part of this road program, both the west and south entrance roads were surfaced with crushed rock macadam treated with light road oil (NPS, Unrau 1991). In 1927, Crater Lake National Park moved forward with plans for the development of the rim area, and in the 1930s, as a result of the worsening depression economy, government public works programs grew at the park and became an integral part of the park’s development program. As a part of these government public works programs, the formation of the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1933, increased funding and provided manpower for park construction, development, and improvement projects. Civilian Conservation Corps-era projects at Crater Lake National Park that are eligible for or listed on the NRHP are located primarily at Munson Valley, Rim Village, and Rim Drive, and are well outside of the area of potential effect. The many repairs and realignments of Highway 62 West entrance road have altered its association with the Fort Klamath-Jacksonville wagon road. Highway 62 West entrance does not occupy the old alignment of the Fort Klamath-Jacksonville wagon road. Highway 62 West does not retain integrity of association, materials, or workmanship with the old wagon road, and the National Park Service recommends, and the Oregon SHPO concurred on 16 June 2003 (see Appendix 2), that the west entrance road is not eligible for the NRHP.