Smith Brothers' Chronological History of Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake Institute -


Garfield Peak





August 19

A camper caused fire spreads to 1/8 of an acre near the summit of Garfield Peak. Three men spend the night on the peak working to extinguish the blaze in a small grove of 400 year old White Bark Pine.




July 29

John White, NPS seasonal employee, runs from Headquarters to the top of Garfield Peak and back again without stopping, in 45 minutes.






June 28

Mrs. Aline Smith slips and fall on Garfield Peak trail, braking her hip. Dr. Lloyd Smith, assists his mother during the emergency carry-out.


Seasonal Ranger John White runs from Park Headquarters through Rim Village, to the top of Garfield Peak and back again to Headquarters without stopping.





A large passive telephone microwave reflector is flown to the top of Garfield Peak by helicopter replacing an older and smaller reflector. (Replaced again in September, 1995)




June 25

Rescue off Garfield Peak of an injured hiker.



September 15

The Watchman Fire Lookout reports seeing a strange cloud of smoke or fog rising sharply from the Lake’s surface, then mushrooming. Two days later a similar cloud is seen from the summit of Garfield Peak. A third was seen from Devil’s Backbone. All three clouds were seen on a clear day and over the deepest part of the Lake. Miss Linda Newhall, the fire lookout, reported the cloud as a dust colored fog or smoke cloud forming on or arising from the waters of the lake. It rose sharply, then mushroomed out, and finally spread and drifted away with the wind currents.

September 17

Dale Vincent, while on the summit of Garfield Peak, observes a column of grayish smoke or steam extending about 1000 feet in height, 200 feet in width, and about 300 feet above the surface of the water of the Lake. He estimated the smoke to be one mile from the east shore of the lake. Mr. Vincent had his camera with him, but was so frightened he thought only of getting himself and camera down off the Peak.




June 15

Rescue of two men off Garfield Peak, down toward the Lake.




A new water system is being constructed that will replace wood pipe with steel. Munson Spring water has been pumped into five wooden tanks located on a hill in the campground area, but the new Garfield reservoir will eliminate two of these tanks.

1931 Season

New 200,000 water tank completed on Garfield, replacing 5 wooden tanks on the hill behind the Rim Campground. Power lines are extended to the Rim. Lights are planned to illuminate the Rim area over a mile north of the Lodge. A 35 inch trout reported to have been caught in the Lake. The new Rim Drive is completed to the North Junction. One hundred laborers are working two 8-hour shifts.


Judge Steel continues to push for his idea of a road down to the Lake, connecting the Lodge with Kerr Notch below Garfield and Applegate Peak. Will Steel expressed a low opinion of those who opposed his plan on a theory that the road would mar the beauty of the natural landscape. “Crater Lake belongs to the people. If they want to deface the wall, they can do. What good is scenery if you can’t enjoy it? Every person who visits Crater Lake wants to go to the Lake shore and out on the beautiful Lake in a boat. With the road, I propose every person, be he aged, crippled, or otherwise unable to make the present long trip down to the water and back, can drive down in comfort.” “This newspaper (Portland Oregonian) is entirely behind Judge Steel in his visionary project.”



The Lake Trail (Sparrow Trail), located between the Lodge and Garfield, and the Garfield Peak Trail are extensively rebuilt during the summer season. Superintendent Sparrow rides his horse to the top of and the bottom of both trails. It starts on the north side of the Lodge and is called the Lake Trail. The Trail is 1.25 miles long with a 15 percent grade. The Watchman Trail is built.




1910 Season

716 guests accommodated at the Park’s two hotels. Four trails in the Park, one runs from the wagon road 3 miles south of the Lake to Garfield Peak, Applegate Peak, Sun Creek and Sand Creek and Mt. Scott, 10 miles. One trial runs from Anna Spring to Union Peak, 5 miles, and one runs from Anna Springs to Beebe Prairie for 8 miles. All trails, except the Lake Trial are little more than horse tracks. The Lake Trail measures 3, 580 feet in length. Season: 3,736 visitors.



July 15

William Steel names Garfield Peak for James R. Garfield, Secretary of the Interior. Mr. Garfield was the first cabinet member to visit Crater Lake. The peak is 8060 feet high and is 1883 feet above the lake’ surface. Formerly the peak was known as Castle Mountain.



July 17

At 7:30 a.m., the Cleetwood begins its decent behind the present Lodge, on Garfield Trail. Fifteen men work 8 hours to launch the boat. Wizard Island is visited by both the Cleetwood and the two skiffs. The lowering of the Cleetwood: Weighed 900 pounds and was 26 feet long, constructed of spruce and ash. Cleetwood Canyon, located behind the present Lodge, was named by William Steel because this was the location where the Cleetwood was slid down to the Lake. With the launching of the Cleetwood, soundings of the lake are begun under the direction of Captain Clarence E. Dutton, chief of the Geological Survey party. Captain George W. Davis spends the first day testing the effects of tension on the wire which is to be used in sounding the lake. The Watchman Peak receives its name from the fact that “watchmen” were stationed on its summit in order to determine the positions of the survey boats.

Will Steel remembers the launching as: “On Saturday morning I stood on a snow bank with a watch in my hand and every man in his place. At exactly 8 o’clock I gave the word and all jumped to their positions and the serious launching was underway. For eight hours, without stopping to eat or otherwise, 16 men labored with every nerve strained in an earnest desire to do his best. Then we found ourselves at the foot of the canyon, with the Cleetwood’s nose projecting over an embankment 10 feet high, directly over the water, and not a foot of cable to be had. The oars were secured in the boat, a man sat in the stern bracing himself as best he could. With a single stroke the cable was cut, the boat shot forward and down and the man gathered himself up in the bow with blood upon his face and bruised all over, but the happiest man in Oregon, for, had he not driven the mules that drew the Cleetwood 100 miles into the mountains and finished the trip on the water? We he the only many who ever went from Ashland to Crater Lake by boat.”