Snow job at Crater Lake National Park in Oregon
Daily Journal of Commerce
By DAN CARTER
September 7, 2006
Upon arrival at Crater Lake for a remodeling project, Tom Gerding and his crew met with a daunting sight.
“When we got back in here at the first of May to continue our work, the snow was 23 feet deep,” recalled Gerding, president of general contractor T Gerding Construction Co. in Corvallis. “It was a bit daunting to see that much snow, but we used it to our advantage.”
In June 2005, Gerding and his crew began work on their sixth project at Crater Lake National Park. Two buildings in the Rim Village – one built in 1928 and the other in 1972 – were in need of a remodel. The newer building was to get two dormers to let in more natural light to its second floor.
“The snow was even with where the dormers were to go, so we decided to start work on them first,” Gerding said. “We didn’t need to put up scaffolding or provide fall protection. We got them pretty well finished just as the snow began to melt.”
Although the snow aided Gerding’s crew by serving as a platform, the weather provided the biggest obstacle to construction at Oregon’s only national park. At an elevation of 7,000 feet, Rim Village annually receives on average more than 44 feet of snow that usually doesn’t melt until July.
“We’ve been dealing with this work environment on projects since 1990,” Gerding said. “The building season is short. If we get to do exterior work past the first of October, we consider that we are working on borrowed time.”
Crater Lake was formed 7,700 years ago by the eruption and subsequent collapse of Mount Mazama, a 12,000-foot peak in the Cascade Range. A crater six miles in diameter was formed and slowly filled with pure snow melt, creating the clearest, and many say bluest, lake in the world with a visibility of 143 feet.
After years of exploration and research of the natural wonder, President Teddy Roosevelt declared Crater Lake a national park in 1902. Crater Lake Lodge, the first structure of the Rim Village, opened in 1915, and the Rim Drive around the lake opened three years later.
Gerding Construction’s first part of the restoration work on the two buildings was to remove the additions that had been built onto the structures in recent remodels. The parking lot that was between the buildings and the lake was then moved behind for pedestrian safety, to ease traffic congestion and to make the approach to the lake more spectacular for visitors.
The larger structure will be the visitor services building, which will house offices, a deli and a new interpretive center that will be well lit thanks to the new dormers. A new rock-faced snow tunnel will give visitors a protected entrance into the services building as well as provide an underground connection between the buildings.
“We are very pleased with the work so far and the exteriors will be ready for the snows that are right around the corner,” Gerding said. “It is a pleasure to work on historic structures like these at Rim Village. And, the view of all that blue from the construction office is the best, by far, we have ever had.”