Going postal for Crater Lake
Herald and News
Klamath Falls, Oregon
January 13, 2002
By LEE JUILLERAT
People and postcards have always been a big part of Crater Lake National Park visits.
For many visitors, the Crater Lake “experience” involves a stop at Rim Village, stroll to a nearby overlook for views and photographs of the lake, and stop at the cafeteria-gift shop to buy a snack and postcards for the folks back home.
Unusually large volumes of lake postcards are expected to find their way through the mails this year as Crater Lake celebrates its 100th year as a national park. The park was created on May 22, 1902, when enabling legislation was signed by President Theodore Roosevelt.
The centennial celebration will kick into high gear this summer, when the bulk of the half-million tourists visit the park.
Historically, postcards have played a major role in stimulating interest in the lake and park. Since the park was created, it’s been a haven for photographers whose images, usually as postcards, were sent around the nation and world.
The building that serves as the Rim Visitor contact center was actually originally built as a photo studio for Fred Kiser, a Northwest photographer who gained fame for his colorized photos of the lake. Kiser and others earned livelihoods taking and selling photographs, including black and white that were hand-colored in the days before color photography.
If a visitor center is eventually built on the rim, plans call for using the Kiser building as an exhibit area. Many of Kiser’s stunning photographs, some from locations all over the park and inside the caldera, are currently warehoused away from public view.
While most of the postcards typically feature dramatic and beautiful views of the lake, others have occasionally taken a different tact. Some have been intentionally light-hearted, others seem amusing over the passage of time and change in tastes. Others have historical interest because they show places like the Cleetwood Cove boat docks and Crater Lake Lodge as they were, not as they exist in 2002.
A few of my personal favorites are included here, including a Penny Postal, images taken from a NASA satellite and views framed in sunglasses.
If you’re planning a lake visit and likely to buy and mail postcards, consider a stop at the Rim Village headquarters or Rim Village contact station. Profits from sales at those areas, operated by the Crater Lake National Park History Association, are directly returned to the park for park-related projects.
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