Crater Lake was crossed much earlier, by George
Herald and News
Klamath Falls, Oregon
April 01, 2001
By LEE JUILLERAT
CRATER LAKE — Teddy didn’t, but George did.
For years historians have debated whether Theodore Roosevelt, the president who proclaimed Crater Lake a national park in 1902, actually visited the lake.
Those reports of Roosevelt’s visit, largely bolstered by a photograph of what has been determined as a “Teddy” look-alike sitting with others by the lake, have been discounted as a case of mistaken identity — and wishful thinking.
But investigations into Roosevelt’s now-dubious visit have surprisingly revealed evidence of an earlier Crater Lake visit by an arguably more important historic figure, George Washington.
“By George, Washington was here,” reports Steve Mark, Crater Lake National Park’s historian.
“It appears to be the real thing,” says Mark of a historic, one-of-a-kind postcard that shows Washington in a boat being rowed across the lake in front of Wizard Island.
The image is already causing Mark and others to reconsider the discovery of the lake, which has generally been credited to a party of gold miners from Jacksonville that included John Wesley Hillman in 1853.
In sharp contrast, the card indicates the lake’s discovery by non-Native Americans was much earlier than previously believed. According to printing on the image, which is actually a hand-colored black-and-white photograph, the picture was taken on April 1, 1776.
Based on the photo, it’s now theorized that Washington and his boat-mates were at the lake to prepare for the crossing of the Delaware River, done later that year on Dec. 25. The surprise attack that followed the crossing was a major turning point for the beleaguered Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.
“If Washington and his troops spent time at Crater Lake, it’s no wonder they were able to handle the Delaware crossing,” believes I. M. Fooling, a National Park Service historian.
Mark, likewise, is convinced.
“If you can’t believe this,” says Mark, “you’d have to be an April Fool.”
Regional Editor Lee Juillerat covers Lake, Siskiyou, Modoc and northern Klamath counties. He can be reached at 885-4421, (800) 275-0982, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.