Oregon’s Greatest Wonder: Lake, Which Fills the Bowl of Extinct Volcano – June 14, 1904

Oregon’s Greatest Wonder: Lake, Which Fills the Bowl of Extinct Volcano.

The Lincoln Evening News

June 14, 1904

Congress last year created Crater Lake National Park, in this state writes a Grant Pass correspondent of the New York Herald. Within the 249 square miles embraced by this park there are as many natural wonders of mountains, snow-clad peaks, forests plains and streams as are to be found in any similar area of the west. Though comparatively unknown, the new park possesses many natural distinctions that may make it a rival of the Yellowstone.

The lake and its surrounding wonders, comprising the new park, are located on the range of the Cascade mountains, northwest Klamath county, and eighty miles from the railroad. A spur line is being built from the Southern Pacific into that part of Oregon, and will ultimately reach the park.

The present method of reaching Crater Lake is by team. Traveling up the Rogue from the railroad, one finds the valley narrowing and the farm houses lessening, while the river grows swifter, the forests grow denser and the mountains more rugged. At a distance of fifty miles from the valley the Rogue narrows to a width of seventy-five feet and flows with a great rapidity through a deep gorge. Here the river has an average fall of 200 feet to the mile.

Great columns or pyramids of cement rise from the bottom of the gorge. These columns are forty to fifty feet through at the base and attain a height of 100 and more feet. These strange formations were composed of a harder substance than that which surrounded them, and did not yield so readily to the action of the water as it cuts its wav deeper and deeper into the gorge.

When within twelve miles of the lake evidences of volcanic action are seen along the Rogue. These are a silent reminder of the time when Mt Mazama, then the greatest mountain of the Cascades, threw forth volumes of fire, smoke and lava. Then the day came when the great volcano had spent its energy and its fires died out. The crater cooled and filled with water, forming a lake of matchless beauty.

This body of water is elliptical, having a length of six miles and a width of four. In the early days the Indians viewed Crater lake and its surroundings as holy ground and approached it with reverence. To them it is one of the spots made sacred by the presence of the Great Spirit. None but medicine men visited it and when one of a tribe felt called upon to become a teacher and healer he spent several weeks on the shore of the lake lasting with the dead and in prayer to the Shahullah Tree.

The shores of Crater lake are precipitous and rugged towering at many points to a height of 2,000 feet above the water. The water’s edge can only be reached by a few narrow, winding trails.

The expanse of the lake, is unbroken save by Wizard Island, a cone-shaped mountain that rises 900 feet above the surface near the wester shore. Wizard island was the last smoking chimney of the volcano.

The water of the lake is cold, clear and pure as the melted snowdrops of the surrounding peaks can make it. There are no fish save some placed there in recent years, and the scarcity of vegetation will make it hard for these to survive. Over the deep blue expanse and its surrounding solitude reigns a silence that borders on the sublime. It is but little wonder that the savage red man believed the Great Spirit slept in the bosom of Crater lake.