Stone Woman of Crater Lake No Longer Mystery
The Fresno Bee
October 24, 1923
Carving That Baffled Party From Bay Was Work of Dr. Earl R. Bush
The Mysterious Woman in stone, the strangely sculptured boulder near Crater
Lake is a mystery no longer and all save one of the numerous conjectures
advanced by members of the recent expedition which investigated the carving are
It is not a petrified human body nor the lava filled cavity that resulted
when the body of a woman enveloped in mud, distinguished, according to the
ingenious theory of Samuel Hubbard, curator of archaeology in the Oakland
It is the work of human hands, to be exact, the hands of Dr. Earl H. Bush, of
the United States public health service.
This was revealed when George S. Nickerson, Sacramento engineer and former
resident of the Klamath district, unearthed a copy of the Crater Lake edition of
the year book of the Mazama Club of Oregon of which he is a member, which
contains the true account of the mysterious carving.
In 1917, Dr. Bush was in Crater Lake on a health trip. Being possessed of
some ability as a stone mason he did some work in connection with the erection
of Crater Lake Lodge and while camped at Government Camp, a little over a mile
and a half from the lake rim, he conceived the idea of carving the figure of the
woman upon the face of a huge lava boulder.
Dropped in October, 1917
The Winter season came on and the work was never finished, and remains as Dr.
Bush left it in October of 1917.
In a letter to Anne Shannon Monroe, reproduced in the Mazama Year Book, Dr.
Bush tells of his work as follows:
"Since you were the first one to discuss the merits of the statue it seems no
more than right "that you should likewise solve the mystery by receiving an
official account of the details surrounding its accomplishment.
"The statue as it is to-day was conceived and executed between October 4th
and 19th, 1917. It took as many hours of labor each day as my right arm would
tolerate. Unfortunately, I was compelled to leave it uncompleted, as a longer
stay in the mountains would have been hazardous.
Tribute to the Forest
"This statue represents any offering to the forest, my interpretation of its
awful stillness and repose, its beauty, fascination and unseen life. A deep love
of this virgin wilderness has fastened itself upon me and remains to-day.
"It seemed that I must leave something behind. It it arouses thought in those
who see it, I shall be amply repaid. I shall be satisfied to leave my feeble
attempt at sculptural expression alone and unmarked for those who may happen to
see it and who may find food for thought along the illness it arouses in them
"It would be sacrilege to assign a title and decorate it with a brass plate."
At the time Dr. Bush was at work he was camped at the headquarters of William
G. Steel, now United States commissioner for Crater Lake National Park and the
man who conceived the idea of the park and successfully urged it before
Steel is a close, personal friend of Nickerson and the whole story of the
woman in stone is verified by him so that there can be no question of its origin
as a work of the public health official.
Held Work Of A Rodin
The stone woman of Crater Lake which has gained fame as the "Silent Woman of
the Cascades," is a carving of the figure of a woman with her head resting upon
her arms as if asleep. A San Francisco artist who viewed it recently is quoted
as declaring it the work of a second Rodin.
The figure is well proportioned and was chiseled in almost full relief on a
large piece of hard lava of which there are considerable quantities in the
vicinity. It is located 1.7 miles from Crater Lake Lodge, at the rim of the
lake, and within the national park boundaries.
Its real origin cam to light last year when the Mazama Club of Oregon, an
organization similar to the Sierra Club of California held its annual encampment
at Crater Lake. Representatives of the club conducted an investigation at that
time, which revealed the true identity of the sculptor of the figure as Dr. Bush
of the federal health service.
The present address of Dr. Bush is not known, but he is believed to be in the
Expedition Was Baffled
Recently representatives of the Southern Pacific Company, which is now active
in the vicinity, secured a photograph of the form, and the fact of its existence
was revealed generally for the first time.
Expedition Studies Discovery
To see what definite information could be obtained on the ground, a party was
organized recently in San Francisco and a trip made to Crater Lake. In the
expedition were Samuel Hubbard, curator of archaeology in the Oakland Museum;
Geoffrey Holt, the San Francisco artist; R. E. Kelly of the Southern Pacific
Company, and Robert H. Wilson of the editorial staff of the San Francisco
After some difficulty the location of the mysterious woman in stone was
ascertained. The party was told that no one in that region was able to throw any
light on the origin of the carving. It was evidently not the work of the Indians
that roamed through the forests in the past for the vicinity of Crater Lake was
avoided by them with a superstitious dread.
The nature of the rock and its isolation made the suggestion that it might be
the work of some wandering erratic sculptor seem foolish and it appeared to the
investigators as more probable that it was a petrified woman.
Propounding a plausible theory Hubbard said:
"Let us see, if we cannot reconstruct a bit of history that might conform to
these conditions. Suppose a woman of prehistoric race were fleeing from the
eruption of the volcano above. She throws herself into a hollow of the rock and
buries her face in her arms to escape the smoke and fumes. She was suffocated in
"A flow of volcanic mud come down and enveloped her-not hot enough to destroy
the body, but soft enough to completely envelop it. This mud quickly solidified,
and then the body of the woman disintegrated, leaving a perfect mould. The mould
may have stayed there for many years until there was another eruption, which
poured down fresh volcanic mud. This found its way into the mould and there
solidified into the figure of the woman as we see it now."