54 Chapter 14: Maintenance Activities In Crater Lake National Park: 1916-Present

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


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


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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. . . .

Telephone System

All of the 48 miles of telephone line comprising the park system was practically rebuilt this season and gives a better service than ever before.


A new floor was laid in the sleeping quarters for crew at Government Camp; the roofs of the mess hall, office, and shelter cabin painted; and new joists and ceiling put in the shelter cabin. A temporary protection to portable oil tank was erected at Government Camp. Tanks and tank houses were erected at Devils Backbone and Wineglass for supplying water to maintenance crews and automobiles making the rim drive. The fence around Government buildings at Anna Spring was rebuilt, and a new cesspool dug at that place to take care of sewage from the ranger’s house. Eight dry toilets on public camp grounds were moved and new vaults dug. The location of wash and bath house for crew at Government Camp was changed, the old building torn down and rebuilt on the new site, and the entire water system at Government Camp amplified and improved.

Miscellaneous Improvements

A gasoline pump and 500-gallon tank were installed at Government Camp, the oil shed moved and improved, and several dying trees removed from the grounds as a protection to buildings. [3]

Various Park Service reports during the early 1920s indicate that park maintenance efforts consisted primarily of varied improvement projects. In 1923, for instance, Superintendent Thomson reported that “a large amount of miscellaneous work was accomplished.” The list of varied projects included:

Disused corral fences were taken down; all living areas thoroughly policed; equipment gone over and renovated; accumulations of manure and trash disposed of; new cesspools made; rub logs placed at certain critical points; additional latrines put up at three entrances and two camp grounds; sanitary drinking fountains installed at Anna Spring and at the west entrance. By felling 4 large and 11 small trees a lovely canyon was opened on the main road. The public camp grounds were so popular that it was necessary to extend them; two men maintained them immaculately throughout the season.

In addition all permanent buildings at Anna Spring were painted “tobacco brown with dark green roofs,” and several dilapidated structures were razed and the material salvaged. [4]

The following year Superintendent Thomson reported that “major effort has been directed toward road maintenance, but a considerable amount of miscellaneous work has also been accomplished.” This work included

the roofing with shakes of the west and east entrance cabins and the Anna Spring bunk house; reconstruction in whole or in part of four bridges; construction of two new latrines near the boat landing; construction of a new powder house; erection of an appropriate log boundary arch; shingling of tank house; installation of small generating sets at Government Camp and the Rim; improvement of water-heating devices at the Rim comfort station; painting or staining of several structures; erection of new park signs; repair of buildings; and a general overhauling of trucks, pumping, and miscellaneous equipment. [5]

In 1925 Superintendent Thomson observed that “as usual, endeavor necessarily was concentrated upon road maintenance, sanitation, and all those other problems incidental to the safety and comfort of tens of thousands of visitors.” Beyond that “a considerable miscellany of alteration and repair was accomplished,” including

new shake roof on two buildings, alteration and painting of superintendent’s residence, new floors and windows in the information office, remodeling of kitchen at Government camp bunkhouse, installation of generating plant and wiring of Anna Spring buildings, construction of a fine massive log arch at south entrance, some general painting and staining, and a general clean up of functional areas. Much of our alteration was accomplished with material salvaged from condemned structures.

More than twenty percent of the park road funds were devoted to snow removal, and heavy spring slides necessitated an unusual amount of work on the trail to the lake, practically exhausting the entire park’s trail allotment. [6]

Snow removal, especially during years of heavy snowfall, was a major undertaking of park maintenance crews. For instance, the winter of 1926-27 witnessed a total snowfall of more than 51 feet, the snow being heavily compacted by spring thaws. This amount of snow was difficult to remove, since there was no mechanical snow removal equipment available. To permit visitors to enter the park it was necessary to clear more than fifteen miles of heavy snow by using explosives and shovels. This gargantuan feat was finally completed on July 2, thus causing the park’s 1927 summer season to commence five weeks later than the year before. [7]

By 1929 park maintenance operations had been assigned to various departments, including engineering, landscape, sanitation, electrical, and mechanical. This division of responsibilities for maintenance would continue into the 1940s. The engineering department was in charge of Engineer Ward P. Webber who was connected with the field headquarters office in San Francisco and loaned to the park during the travel season. The division had charge of road and trail maintenance and improvements, snow removal, and building upkeep. Concerning these responsibilities and related problems, Superintendent Solinsky observed:

Road maintenance–Due to the lack of proper equipment, maintenance work was held to a minimum, with the result that all of our roads, with the exception of about 22 miles of pavement, were in very poor condition. The soil in this vicinity is principally a dry pumice ash and makes an extremely poor roadbed, with the result that our roads become very dusty and rough and are very disagreeable to travel over. This is particularly true of the Rim Road.

Snow removal–There is no mechanical snow removal equipment in this park, and it becomes necessary each spring to expend considerable sums for labor to clear our roads of snow in time for the opening date. The roads of the park were opened this season on the following dates: Klamath-Medford Loop, June 12; Anna Spring to Rim, June 22; east entrance, June 24; north entrance, July 6; Rim Road, July 13.

Road improvement–The east entrance road from its connection with the Dalles-California Highway to the park entrance, a distance of approximately 5 miles, was reconstructed and surfaced with crushed rock. This road was also improved in a like manner for a distance of 1.9 miles within the park boundary.

The pavement on the Government camp Rim Road had to be torn up, reprocessed, and relaid. This was due to improper mixing last fall during the cold weather. A crew of three men were employed during August in repairing and patching holes in the paved park roads.

As to building maintenance Solinsky noted that the interiors of the new employees’ residences at Government Camp were painted.

In 1929 the sum of $1,500 was allotted to the park for roadside cleanup and landscape improvement. The work was confined to one mile along the Anna Spring-Government Camp road. Debris and trash, resulting from road and trail construction, were cleaned up in the rim area, and planting was done to eliminate the dust.

The sanitary department was handled by a crew of four men with the use of a light truck. The campgrounds were kept clean, and garbage and refuse from the camps and concessioner facilities were disposed of on a daily basis.

The park electrical department kept the telephone system in repair, and the mechanical department under the direction of a master mechanic (with the aid of several seasonals) had charge of the overhaul and repair of park vehicles and equipment. While the vehicles and equipment had been overhauled during the fall and winter, the park vehicles were a continuing source of trouble and expense. With the exception of two trucks, all of the park vehicles “came from war surplus stock” and had “long since outlived their usefulness.” [8]

Road maintenance and snow removal operations in the park were facilitated by the acquisition of new equipment in 1930. According to Superintendent Solinsky marked improvement was made in the condition of Rim Road and the north and east entrance roads with the “new road equipment and funds that allowed extensive work in grading and smoothing up the road surfaces.” Because of the heavy increase in travel, considerable maintenance was necessary on the oiled roads. Several sections, ranging in length from 1/2 to 1-1/2 miles, had to be torn up, reprocessed, and relaid. The type of pavement used on these roads was such, according to Solinsky, that “with the increasing use each year the annual maintenance costs will increase until such time as a more permanent pavement can be laid.”

In 1930 snow removal from roads was aided by the acquisition of a new “mechanical snow remover”–a Bates 80 tractor with rotary snow plow and Hall backfiller attached. With its use the road to the rim from both the south and west entrances was open to traffic on May 24, the earliest opening date in the history of the park. The north entrance and Rim roads were open to travel on June 26, the earliest that either road had been opened.

Solinsky noted that considerable expense was necessary in opening and clearing the slides from the Crater Wall Trail. The trail was “so located with the number of switchbacks on the loose sliding sides of the crater wall that it necessitates handling of the slide material several times before it can be disposed of.” This in turn made the “annual maintenance costs exceedingly high and out of proportion to its original cost.”

Roadside cleanup continued to be a major concern of park maintenance in 1930. Using an allotment of $4,000 some five miles were cleared of debris and trash. [9]

In May 1931 Superintendent Solinsky reported on the park snow removal operations to NPS Director Horace Albright. He observed that the park’s snow plan

has proven the theory that it is much easier and more economical to remove the snow while it is still soft or following each of the winter storms rather than to wait until spring when the snow becomes packed and almost solid ice.

Snow plow operations had started on November 15, and two operators were employed at a salary of $100 per month each plus board.

Solinsky went on to describe the advantages of snow removal operations and its impact on park operations and visitation. Among other things he noted:

Another fact to be considered is that we are able to set a definite date for the opening of our park roads with assurance that the park will be opened on the date set. Last fall we set April 1 as the date on which we would open the park and permit visitors to travel to the Rim. On March 31 I drove from Medford through the West Entrance to the Rim without the use of chains on my car. Visitors entered the park from both the South and West Entrances and drove to the Rim on April 1 and the roads have been maintained and kept in good travelable condition ever since. We have received many congratulatory expressions from all who have visited the lake during the past month and I am sure that the early opening of the park has met with much favorable enthusiasm from everyone.

Notwithstanding the fact that April proved a rather stormy month and provided very few good days for travel, over 6,000 people in about 2,000 cars visited Carter Lake during the month. We registered cars from twenty-four states and two Canadian provinces. I feel that it is well worthwhile to open the park early for the reason that we have many eastern visitors traveling up and down the Pacific Coast during April and May who have never had the opportunity of visiting Crater Lake while passing through this locality. I believe it quite important that these people, particularly the easterners, be given the opportunity of visiting the park and think the advertising we receive through this contact is well worthwhile.

I am quite sure that you will agree that we have received a lot of very favorable publicity throughout the important papers on this coast in connection with the early opening of Crater Lake. We have taken a number of pictures and have broadcast them through the press and we have also taken a number of reels of moving picture film which show the Snogo plow in operation and some splendid winter scenes about the park including a reel or two taken from a boat on Crater Lake early in March on a day when the reflections were perfect. We plan to use these reels in our lectures during the coming season and I am sure they will prove most interesting to the visitors. [10]

Itemized report of weather conditions and cost of snow plow operation for Crater Lake winter 1930-31:

Month Stormy
Days snow
Gals. Cost:
@ $.185
Gals. Cost:
Labor: Repair
Nov. 5 54″ 39″ 10 173.9 906 $167.61 15 $5.33 $154.56   $327.50
Dec. 9 40″ 38″ 8 120.2 530 98.05 7 2.49 276.00 $22.40 398.94
Jan. 11 53″ 60″ 18 235.6 1404 259.74 25 8.87 276.00   544.61
Feb. 7 44″ 73″ 7 93.8 530 98.05 10 3.55 264.96 49.00 415.56
Mar. 15 59″ 84″ 19 255.6 1638 303.03 25 8.87 276.00   587.90
Apr. 7 21″ 78″ 8 119.4 714 132.09 15 5.32 44.16 10.00 417.89













Snogo Model 58 rotary snow plow used in this operation.

Snow plow operations stated November 15th.

Operators paid at rate of $100.00 per month and board.

Snow measurements shown taken at Government Camp. Approximately 50% more snow removed from road than precipitation shows on account of drifting in road cut.

Average depth at Rim April 1 – 10 feet, drifts up to 17 feet deep between Government Camp and Rim were kept open.

The winter of 1931-32 taxed the park’s snow removal capabilities to the limit. All known records of snowfall in the park were broken as 65 feet of snow fell at Government Camp and between 85-90 feet fell at the rim. Despite the heavy snowfall the park was able to keep “the upper sections of the park roads, from the Rim to points below Annie Springs towards both the west and south entrances, open all winter” with one rotary snow plow. It required two crews of two men each working almost constantly during the months of December and January to remove the snow from the upper park roads During those months the plow was operated continuously for 117 eight-hour shifts, an average of approximately sixteen hours per day. The south entrance road was open to the public on April 10, and the west entrance road on May 5. The delay in opening the west entrance road was caused by the refusal of the State Highway Commission to open its section of the highway from Union Creek to the west park boundary, and “considerable persuasion” by the Medford Chamber of Commerce and local residents was necessary to get the commission to take action. Heavy snow drifts delayed the opening of Rim Road until July 26.

Road and trail maintenance continued to pose problems for park management in 1932. Lack of funds for proper road maintenance resulted, according to Superintendent Solinsky, in “rather unfavorable comments from park visitors, due to the rough and cut-up condition of these highways.” As all of the park highways were of “the light oil mixed type,” they required “constant attention under heavy traffic to keep them in travelable condition.” According to Solinsky, “a vast amount of work” was required if these highways were “to be maintained in as good condition as the state highways leading to our park entrances. ” Of primary importance in this work was the necessity for widening the shoulders to support the pavement, resloping of the cut banks, and rounding of the slopes.

Because of the heavy snows during the winter the Crater Wall Trail was not opened until July 1. After the snow banks had melted, slides continued to fall on the trail, in some places almost obliterating it. The cost of maintaining the trail was extremely heavy with large cracks appearing in its path after the snow melted, thus leading to concern that sections of it could be lost.

In 1932 roadside cleanup was carried out along the south entrance road from Annie Spring to the south park boundary. This completed all the roadside cleanup work along the completed park highways with the exception of approximately two miles on the west entrance road.”[11]

By 1934 road maintenance had become a critical problem for park operations. Lack of adequate maintenance of hard surface roads, coupled with the heavy visitation of the previous several years, had caused the roads to become potentially dangerous. During the year funds became available to purchase a road patching machine and commence repairs “which consisted mainly of patching the more dangerous chuck holes that had developed in profusion.” [12]

Low appropriations and staffing levels prevented the park from instituting a comprehensive building maintenance program for many years. Following the visit of Secretary of the Interior Harold L. Ickes in 1934, however, a major program was authorized for rehabilitation and completion of existing park structures. In January 1935 a survey was made of nearly 60 park buildings [a copy of the survey may be seen below] Superintendent of Construction E.E. Etherton, analyzing “how the Government can complete, repair, and improve its property to the condition in which such property should be, to safeguard its investment, and also to prevent the buildings from falling further into disrepair or obsolescence.” The general conclusions of Etherton as to the condition of park structures were appalling and led to calls for greater appropriations for building maintenance and the correction of these problems. Etherton described in rather stark terms the dilapidation of park structures. He observed that the

condition of the buildings in the park is such that thorough modernization is not only impractical, but too costly. There is not one that is completed, all are in dire need of repairs, and many will have to be improved to meet the demands placed upon them. It is difficult to conceive how an organization could have allowed such squandering of money on physical improvements, supposed to be permanent, yet permit them to continue in their present state so long. Chimneys have been built into nearly every building, yet there is but one that is not a serious hazard to fire and life.

Mice, pack rats, and gophers infest and run rampant through the buildings. I have seen a gopher with her litter sitting on the apparently solid stone walls, disappear through the wall. Smoke exudes through another stone wall, and a stream of water turned into another, apparently solid, continued to flow. Previous to the past season the stones of the exterior walls were set in place without being bedded in mortar, and were backed with a thin layer of concrete, mixed by incompetents, and not bonded to stonework with reinforcing. Rot, rust, and decay go unchecked. The electric substation, through which several thousand volts of electricity flow, is a serious hazard to life, as are the third floor sleeping quarters in two of the dormitories. Hundreds of meals are served each day; workmen, professional men, college professors, eat at the public messhall, where there is no refrigeration for food, and the meals are prepared in an antiquated kitchen. The dormitories are equipped with insanitary wood troughs to wash in, and there are still several very insanitary shower baths. The temporary employees residence area, commonly known as “Scabtown”–not an entirely inappropriate name for the area–is a disgrace to the park and the Government.

Although not entirely self-liquidating, there is no place where the Government could spend money to greater advantage than in rehabilitating the physical improvements in this park. Not only would it be a boone to the many employees, but also to the many hundreds of thousands of citizens who will visit the park in the future. [13]



Ranger Dormitory Park Headquarters
Machine Shop Park Headquarters
Messhall Park Headquarters
Warehouse Park Headquarters
Equipment Shed Park Headquarters
Fire House Park Headquarters
Gas Station Park Headquarters
Comfort Station Park Headquarters
Garage and woodshed Park Headquarters
Blacksmith Shop Park Headquarters
Grain Storage Shed Park Headquarters
Administration Building Park Headquarters
Barn Park Headquarters
Lumber Sheds Park Headquarters
Residence No. 8 Park Headquarters
Residence No. 7 Park Headquarters
Residence No. 6 Park Headquarters
Residence No. 5 Park Headquarters
Residence No. 4 Park Headquarters
Residence No. 3 Park Headquarters
Residence No. 2 Park Headquarters
Residence No. 1 Park Headquarters
Ranger Residence North Entrance
Watchman Observation Station Watchman Peak
Checking Kiosk North Entrance
Information Bureau Rim Area
Community House Rim Area
Comfort Stations (4)
A. Lower Station
B. East Station
C. Central Station
D. Cafeteria Comfort Station
Rim Area
Sinnot Memorial Rim Area
Mt. Scott Lookout Mt. Scott
Comfort Station – Employees’ Campground
Employees Cabins (4) – Employees’ Campground
Cabin A
Cabin B
Cabin C
Cabin D
Ranger Station (Log Cabin) Annie Spring
Checking Kiosk Annie Spring
Residence (Board and Batten) Annie Spring
New Comfort Station Annie Spring
Two old comfort stations Annie Spring
Old Superintendent’s residence Annie Spring
Two ranger cabins Annie Spring
Barn Annie Spring
Checking Station West Entrance
Superintendent’s Residence Medford, Oregon
Warehouse Medford, Oregon
Checking Station East Entrance
Ranger Station Lost Creek
Old Barn Lost Creek
New Barn Lost Creek
Wineglass Wineglass
Old Tank House Rim Area
Electic system
Water and sewer systems
Telephone system

Because of inadequate appropriations snow removal operations were not attempted during the winter of 1934-35, resulting in the park opening five weeks later than during the previous several years. In April snow removal commenced at which time a rotary Snogo and two bulldozers were used to clear the heavily-packed snow (13 feet at Park Headquarters). Visitors made their first trip over a two-way road to the lake rim on June 1. Once the snow was removed major road patching on the south and west entrance roads was undertaken.[14]

Crater Lake was kept open on a year-round basis for the first time in 1935-36. The acquisition of an additional high-powered rotary snow plow facilitated the task of maintaining open roads in the face of heavy winter storms, leaving a total snowfall of nearly fifty feet. Bulldozers were used to cut through the frozen drifts on Rim Road. Cooperation from the Oregon State Highway Commission for snow removal on approach roads was an important factor in the winter accessibility of the park. [15]

In 1937 Superintendent Canfield reported on the merits of snow removal and its relation to winter accessibility of the park. Among his observations were:

The value of winter accessibility of Crater Lake National Park was again shown during the 1936-37 season when open entrance highways were maintained from Klamath Falls on U.S. Highway 97 and Medford on U.S. Highway 99–both gateway cities. Approximately 23 miles of park highways were involved. The Oregon State Highway Department maintained open roads to the park boundaries in cooperation with the National Park Service.

Up until the acquisition of powerful snowplow equipment, the wonders of Crater Lake during winter months were viewed only by the eyes of persons who skied or snowshoed over 20 to 25 miles of snow. The park was practically inaccessible from November until late June or July 1. Snow was removed entirely by hand labor, making only a one-way traffic lane possible. The one-way traffic would persist until after the middle of July. It is of important interest to note that nearly 50,000 visitors arrived in the park during the time travel had been impossible in previous years. [16]

World War II had a significant impact on park operations and maintenance activities. In 1942 the park turned over to the armed forces on a loan basis its fleet of trucks and snow removal equipment. The loan consisted of nine pickup and dump trucks, one Snogo 1929 model, one Snogo 1936 model, and one Rotoblade snow removal machine. The loan of this machinery, together with reductions in park personnel, appropriations, and visitation, resulted in closure of the park in November 1942. The park would be open on a summer basis only until year-round operations were resumed in 1946. [17]

The reduction of park personnel during the war resulted in the decimation of experienced maintenance crews. Hence the chief ranger and the park naturalist undertook the major responsibility for road and trail repairs and other essential summer maintenance work. They furnished crews or individual employees to assist the park carpenter, plumber, road foreman, and engineer in their various duties. This cooperation by the more experienced and trained park personnel was important to the ongoing maintenance operations of the park during the war. According to Superintendent Leavitt, “the only unskilled labor we were able to procure was a few young boys just old enough to qualify under the age regulations, and a few old men.” [18]

One of the problems that resulted from the winter closure of the park during the war was increased road and building damage occasioned by heavy snow. The park was manned by skeleton winter crews, and snow was not removed from roads or buildings. Thus, the condition of park roads, buildings, and facilities deteriorated as the war continued. Damage to park buildings became a problem of particular concern to Crater Lake administrators, evidence of which may be found in a memorandum prepared by Leavitt for NPS Director Drury on July 21, 1943:

The building that has sustained the greatest amount of damage is the ranger club. The heavy load of snow on the roof brought about stresses and strains in the framework of the building, which resulted in reopening and widening many of the old cracks that existed in the plaster in this building, and in addition caused buckling and sagging of the plaster on the ceilings of a number of the rooms to such an extent that it is about ready to fall. The cracked and buckled plaster on the side walls is much more likely to remain in place.

Cracks in the plaster on the walls and ceilings in the Superintendent’s residence and other employees quarters where plaster has been used were found. Some of this was recracking or widening of old cracks that have been sealed or painted over, and in addition there were many new cracks found.

The administration building which is one of the newest buildings and more soundly constructed of heavier material, seems to have come through the winter in good shape, as has also the quarters of the Assistant Superintendent.

There is little or nothing that can be done to avoid this damage in future winters when the park is closed. In past winters a spike camp of CCC boys has been kept at Crater Lake during the winter months to remove at least a part of the heavy snow load on these weaker buildings, and thus prevent excessive damage.

As far as could be ascertained from inspection of the rooms, there has been no breaking or splitting of rafters or studs or other parts of the frame of the building, but it is conceivable that over a period of years these stresses and strains due to heavy snow load may finally result in breakage that may be really serious. . . .

A portion of the porch of the old community house at the rim was crushed by the snow, and all of the roofs of the buildings show the effect of a heavy winter. Sliding snow has scoured the green stained shakes or shingles practically white, and the overhung eaves of some buildings show the effects of winter storms and the tremendous crushing effect of settling snow.

Evidently there were some very heavy windstorms during the winter, for window and door shutters and storm barricades have been ripped off to a greater extent than usual. This was particularly noticeable at the Crater Lake Lodge at the rim. The steel fire escape ladder on the north side of the building had been crushed down about 18 inches and the siderails telescoped on itself. [19]

When the park reopened on a year-round basis in July 1946 prewar maintenance activities and standards were gradually reestablished as funding and personnel permitted. The most immediate maintenance needs were addressed during the summer of 1946. The trail to the lake was opened to the public on August 4. The maintenance crews encountered many difficulties in opening the trail, including heavy snow drifts, rock slides, and washouts. The major roads in the park were patched with crushed rock and oil, the crushed rock being obtained from the summit of Dutton Ridge. By late summer the roads, according to Leavitt, were in “fairly good condition” with the exception of the west and south entrance roads where the outer edge of the pavement was “continually breaking because of lack of metal underneath the paving.”

Snow-related maintenance activities continued to comprise a large portion of park operations during the postwar years. The months of October and November 1946 witnessed extreme cold and heavy snowfall. The early winter weather conditions resulted in a variety of maintenance, snow removal repair activities as reported by Superintendent Leavitt:

. . . As usual, visitors got caught in the early storms and had to be helped out when their cars became stalled or skidded off the road. It was necessary to widen and improve the detour around the Annie Spring section to provide room for the operation of the big, heavy snow plows. Snow poles had to be erected all along the roads from the southwest and to the Rim of Crater Lake. Snow sheds had to be installed at Park headquarters and to the entrance-way of every building that is used or occupied during the winter. These include not only quarters, mess hall, dormitories, etc., but also comfort stations at the Rim and at Park headquarters. The temporary ranger station used on the Rim during the winter months in pre-war time and which was moved to a point about midway between the South Entrance and Annie Spring for an emergency ski patrol cabin, was moved back to the Rim and placed in readiness for service during the winter. . . .

The extended and heavy storm from the 16th through the 29th required the services of all personnel to keep the highways open and utilities operating. The 1936 3-auger Sno-Go broke down early in the storm and this threw an added burden on the old 2-auger 1929 model Sno-Go, as well as the operators. In spite of the extraordinarily heavy snow fall, part of the time with an admixture of rain which created slush out of the packed snow on the highways, the roads were never closed, although travel was discouraged. The 3-auger Sno-Go was still in the shop awaiting parts for repairs at the end of the month.

The heavy snow fall throughout the Park, coupled with a “silver thaw” in the lower elevation, snapped power and telephone lines promiscuously. Electric power service was off for three days with breaks from one end of the transmission line to the other, while both the Chiloquin and Ft. Klamath telephone lines were still out at the end of the month, due to numerous breaks. Telephone service between Park headquarters and Annie Spring, however, was restored, so employees in that area could keep in touch with Park headquarters. [20]

During the postwar years maintenance standards, personnel, and park appropriations were gradually restored to their prewar levels. Because little maintenance or repair had been accomplished during the war, the condition of park roads, buildings, and facilities were greatly in need of rehabilitation during the postwar period while funding and personnel levels were slowly increasing. Thus park management was confronted with a backlog of maintenance and repair needs that it could not meet for several years. In July 1948, for instance, Superintendent Leavitt reported:

Loss through decay of the Goodbye Creek Bridge, Annie Creek Bridge, and closing of Rim Road at Anderson Bluff through slide, seriously handicaps safe and satisfactory travel; detours at these points are dangerous and at the Goodbye Bridge detour many accidents have occurred, especially during the winter time. The main, public campground at the Rim is in deplorable condition; too small, no room for trailers, inefficiently laid out, covered by snow till middle of July; Annie Spring campground development never completed; comfort station only modern feature; existing campground should be improved and new ones developed; South and West Entrance roads badly need seal coating job; should be rebuilt; buildings, constructed for summer use only, used on year-round basis; are unsatisfactory and inefficient, expensive to maintain and operate; utilities generally need rehabilitation.

Good results have been obtained in every park activity within the funds that have been made available for personnel, supplies, and equipment, which, in general, are too limited. Economy-minded Congress, whose purpose is to reduce and close out war-born expansion or new bureaus, works hardship on the National Park Service, which reached an all-time low during the war and now must expand to give proper protection to areas and provide for tremendous increase in travel. There has been no new construction in the park since before the war. [21]

Snow removal continued to be a major expenditure of the park’s operating budget during the early 1950s. In 1952 NPS Director Conrad L. Wirth pointed out that snow removal placed “abnormal demands for maintenance and abnormal maintenance costs” on the park’s operating budget. He observed, “about $400,000, or 10 percent of maintenance funds, is spent annually to remove snow, with no permanent benefit to road conditions. Less than 4 percent is spent for professional services.” [22]

As park management rebuilt its staff and organizational structure in the postwar years maintenance operations were placed under the engineering division for administrative purposes. An organization chart prepared in June 1955 indicated that maintenance activities were assigned to the engineering division headed by Park Engineer William N. Loftis, Jr. The functions of the division were:

Programs and supervises all work required to maintain and operate the physical plant, including all essential utilities, garage and repair shop for maintenance of motorized and mechanical equipment, general building and grounds maintenance and road and trail maintenance, Is in part responsible for the planning, design, specifications and construction of all physical facilities. Makes preliminary engineering field studies for needs of additional physical facilities. Prepares and reviews specifications for purchasing regular and heavy duty machines and equipment. Prepares fiscal estimates and operating budgets.

The division had five sections under various chiefs: communications and power (electrician); roads and trails (mixed gang foreman); garage and shop (mechanic); water-sewage-sanitation (plumber); and carpentry-painting. [23]

By 1962 park maintenance activities had been assigned to a “maintenance and operation of physical facilities” division. The new division was headed by the park engineer and had three sections each directed by a foreman: buildings and utilities, roads and trails, and garage and shop. [24]

By the 1970s a maintenance division had been established in the park organizational structure. The division was headed by a maintenance general foreman. The three primary foci of the division’s activities were buildings, grounds, and roads and trails. Building maintenance included a wide range of efforts from minor repairs, routine painting, and refinishing of floors to major structural rehabilitation and improvements to electrical, sewer, and heating systems. Grounds maintenance included campground and roadside cleanup, tree planting and rim area landscaping. Roads and trails maintenance included snow removal, resurfacing, repairs, and clearing of debris and rocks. Park maintenance crews were aided by Youth Conservation Corps personnel in road, trail, and building rehabilitation and campground clean up. [25]

During recent years the Crater Lake staff has sought to professionalize its maintenance operations. Such efforts have been made to bring park maintenance programs into compliance with the servicewide initiative for maintenance management systems.