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Smith Brothers' Chronological History of Crater Lake National Park

 

 

   

Ralph Peyton

 

 

1982


July 12


Ralph Peyton and the Crater Lake Lodge Company file an additional $117,515 lawsuit against the National Park Service claiming that the Government was at fault for the 1975 outbreak of water-born illnesses associated with the sewer overflow into the Park’s water system.

August 31


The Federal Government agrees to settle out of court a $90,000 law suit filed against the government by former Lodge owner, Ralph Peyton stemming from the 1975 sewer/water problems. Peyton claimed that he had already paid out $81,989 in judgments to Park visitors who had either stayed or eaten at the Lodge and that he had paid out an additional $35,525 in legal fees. By now 76 claims have been settled and two more cases are still under arbitration.

 

 

1981


August 12

 


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Crater Lake Lodge’s former owner, Ralph Peyton, wins his $1,082,205 lawsuit against the U.S. Government and the National Park Service in Federal Court with U.S. Magistrate Edward Leavy issuing the award. The Lodge was sold in 1976 for 1.6 million, but had been valued at 2.6 million prior to the water contamination crisis.. Leavy ruled that, “the Park Service was negligent in its design, location, construction and maintenance of the Park’s water system.”

1980


June 23


The Oregon Court of Appeals is asked by former Crater Lake Lodge owner, Ralph Peyton, to set aside the $15,000 in punitive damages formerly awarded to Janice Joachim in 1978. Her lawyer accused Peyton and other officials of a “massive cover up”. The lawyer said there is evidence that most of the Lodge staff was sick by June 30, and that Peyton allowed sick employees to serve food and that he did not notify authorities of their gastrointestinal illnesses.

September 22


The Oregon State Court of Appeals rules that a McMinnville, Oregon woman, who became ill after drinking contaminated water in the Park five years ago is entitled to $15,000 in punitive damages. Crater Lake Lodge Company and Ralph Peyton, president of the Company in 1975 had earlier been ordered to pay Janice Joachim $4,000 in compensatory damages and $15,000 in punitive damages. Peyton had appealed to the Appeals Court contending that the punitive damage award should not have been allowed.

1979

 


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A suit seeking $8.6 million in damages is filed by Ralph Peyton and Crater Lake Lodge Company against the U.S. Government in Portland’s U.S. District Court. Peyton seeks $4,000,000 for alleged loss of business, physical damage to the property, medical expenses for his employees, loss of credit standing, and lost profits. The suit also seeks recovery from the government of $4,616,180 to cover pending claims against the Lodge. The suit claims that the national Park Service was responsible for sewage contamination in the water supply during the summer of 1975.

1976

 

March 1


Canteen Company of Oregon completes the purchase of Crater lake Lodge Company from the Peyton family.

June


Ralph Peyton resigns as president/manager of Crater Lake Lodge Company after 17 years.

One-way road moved to Cleetwood Cove. It is felt that when the West Rim Drive was designated as a one-way drive, too many Park Visitors were being forced to drive around the East Rim against their will.

1975


June 1 - 23


Park and Concession employees begin reporting in sick. Many people thought it was probably just the annual “Crater Lake Crud” that normally strikes many employees during their first week of arrival. Within three weeks of the first report of employee illness, (except for the Rangers stationed at Annie Spring, and the Lodge owner, Ralph Peyton, who claimed “I never drink water”), 90% of all Park employees come down sick with diarrhea, vomiting, cramps, dehydration and weight loss.

June 26


With so many Government, Youth Conservation Corps Enrollees and Concession sick, many employees feel that the source of the sickness must be the water. Bruce Stubblefield, YCC director, asks Chief Ranger Jim Wiggins about the water quality. Bruce is told that the water is tested frequently. When Stubblefield suggests contacting the Klamath County Health Department in Klamath Falls, Wiggins tells him that the county has no jurisdiction in the park. All water problems would have to be handled by the U.S. Public Health Service.

Ralph Peyton, president of Crater Lake Lodge Co., calls two private doctors in Klamath Falls and Portland and is told that there is a lot of “flu going around”.

Dr. John Googins, state epidemiologist, and other members of his team meet with Superintendent Sims. Illnesses seem to be declining, part of a regional problem with the “flu” they feel. While checking food services at the Lodge, Lodge President Ralph Peyton challenges the health team’s authority to come onto federal land and clams they are on a “witch hunt.” The team finally leaves the Park in the evening, “puzzled by the information collected” and confused as to whether the State of Oregon has jurisdiction to follow the situation any further, but is convinced that the source of the employee illnesses is most likely the water supply.

July 9


Notices are being handed out to Park visitors at both entrance stations warning them that the Park’s water might be contaminated and that they should first boil or treat the water with iodine before using. The notice is signed by Superintendent Sims. Signs with the same wording are posted at all Park facilities, campgrounds, the Lodge and over all drinking fountains.

TO ALL VISITORS


OVER THE PAST SEVERAL WEEKS THERE HAS BEEN AN OUTBREAK OF GASTOENTERITIS IN CRATER LAKE NATIONAL PARK. THIS ILLNESS IS CHARACTERIZED BY DIARRHEA, ABDOMINAL CRAMPS, NAUSEA, VOMITING, AND CHILLS. IT CAN LAST ANYWHERE FROM A FEW HOURS TO SEVERAL DAYS. IT IS UNCLEAR HOW THIS ILLNESS IS CONTRACTED OR HOW IT IS SPREAD. WE HAVE PROFESSIONAL U.S. PUBLIC HEALTH PERSONNEL ACTIVELY WORKING ON THIS PROBLEM NOW.

WHILE USING THE PARK FACILITIES, WE RECOMMEND USING NO WATER FOR DRINKING, FOR FOOD PREPARATION, OR TOOTH BRUSHING THAT HASN’T BEE PREBOILED OR TREATED WITH IODINE OR CHLORINE TABLETS. WATER MAY NOT BE A FACTOR IN CONTRACTING THE ILLNESS, BUT WE FEEL THIS PRECAUTION IS IMPORTANT AT THIS POINT.

WE HOPE TO CORRECT THIS SITUATION AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE.

THANK YOU, RICHARD H. SIMS, SUPERINTENDENT CRATER LAKE NATIONAL PARK

Willard Titus, Oregon Health sanitarian, checks the Park’s water system’s pressure and chlorine. Titus discovers that the water to Munson Valley is not being chlorinated.

Ms.. Gena Wright, supervising sanitarian, checks the food service areas of the Lodge and Cafeteria and notices that some of the workers are ill. The medical team suggests closing down the food service, but Dr. Koplan asks for another 24 hours since the method of transmission has not yet been determined. Dr. Koplan asks for more help and Dr. Googins sends three additional staff members.
 


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After phoning Headquarters and applying pressure, Superintendent Sims allows Lodge President Peyton to replace the Health Service signs with one of their own. The Lodge company posts signs above all Rim Village drinking fountains reading, “THIS WATER HAS BEEN ADEQUATELY CHLORINATED AND IS TESTED DAILY BY THE U.S. PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE.” Seasonal patrol rangers are dispatched to remove all Public Health Service warning signs. The rangers complete their job around midnight, after several nasty confrontations with Mr. Peyton. Peyton wants to know what all the excitement is all about, “After all, nobody has died yet.”

July 11


General Superintendent Ernie Borgman is contacted at 12:30 by Superintendent Sims. After talking with Peyton and other health specialists, the decision is made to close the Park. More dye is placed in the sewer line and it soon appears in the Munson Valley sewer lagoon. Lime and chlorine are spread on the raw sewage around the overflowing manhole.

At 8:15 a.m. the Park is closed to the public with all entrances being manned on a 24-hour basis. This becomes the first closure of a major National Park in the history of the NPS.

By noon a National Guard helicopter arrives with medical supplies so that Public Health people can begin administering gamma globulin shots.

120 Crater Lake Lodge employees and about 50 Park Service employees are temporarily furloughed, some with full pay.

TV news crews from ABC, CBS, and NBC arrive in the Park, some by helicopter, to cover the breaking story of the Park’s closure. 

1972


July 9


Two additional 60 passenger, $30,000 (some sources report $45,000) tour boats are added to the ever growing Crater Lake navy. The two boats, the “ Ralph Peyton” and the “Jim Griffin” (Crater Lake Lodge owners) were built during the winter by the Rudy Wilson Boat works of Portland, Oregon and trucked to Discovery Point. The two lake launches were air lifted, minus their engines, from Discovery Point parking lot to Wizard Island by a Sikorsky Sky Crane logging helicopter. The Peyton and Griffin will replace the aging launches “Fisher” and “Minn”. On the return trips, the helicopter brings out the Ranger’s patrol boat, which was sent to Olympic National Park, and an O.S.U. Research Boat. (The Griffin is renamed the “Glen Happel” in 1983 following the sale of Crater Lake Lodge.) Mrs. Kathy Peyton dutifully christened the two launches with two bottles of Champaign moments before the airlift began.

August 8


The Lodge Company’s boat house is destroyed by a disastrous fire on Wizard Island. Rudy Wilson, boat builder, attributed the fire to a “faulty generator”. A spark from the muffler of the generated, vented through the rear wall fell on a rotten log, smoldering for several hours and finally bursting into flames about 8 p.m. Fire crews were immediately dispatched, but because of the distances involved, three hours passed before the initial attack began. The fire loss is estimated at $50,000. Since the boat house had been built in a heavy grove of 400 year old Shasta Red Firs, to help camouflage the building, dozens of the giant trees were destroyed in the 5 acre forest fire. Lodge owner, Ralph Peyton, blamed the boathouse fire on lightning so that the insurance claim could be settled faster and the company would not be held responsible for irreplaceable damage done to one of the most photographed areas in the World.

August 9


Lodge employee dorm construction begins between the Rim Campground and the Lodge. The government plans called for it to be built next the Cafeteria, but Ralph Peyton, Lodge owner decided on his own, without government permission, to move it so as to be better hidden from public view and not further clutter up Rim Village.

August 16


The newest tour boat, the Peyton, breaks loose from its mooring at Cleetwood Cover during a snow storm, tearing a four foot hole in the bow as it crashes into rocks lining the shore. ($5,000 worth of damage.)

1970


Early 1970’s


The boat crew, led by Lodge owner’s son, Mike Peyton, turns Crater Lake into their own private lake by water skiing behind the launches and fishing after hours around Phantom Ship.

 

 

1966


November 23

 


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An appraisal is done of the concession and NPS buildings at Rim Village and Munson Valley, so that Peyton can ascertain the value of NPS property at Park Headquarters. Peyton is willing to trade his Rim Village property for much of Munson Valley. He hopes to use the proceeds from the sale of the Lodge to finance this new development. Development of the new two-story visitor center is planned to be accomplished by 1970.

1962


February 13


Lodge Concessionaires, Peyton and Griffin want to match the money they will receive from the sale of the Lodge and put it toward construction of a new hotel. They are adamant that the new building should have a view of the Lake since they are give up a site with a view.

1960


November 27


Larry Ralph Peyton, the 19 year-old son of Ralph & Kathryn Peyton, Crater Lake Lodge owners, is found stabbed to death in his car which was parked at Forest Park in Portland. Peyton had been stabbed 23 times. The interior of the car showed evidence of “a terrific struggle”. Missing and presumed kidnapped or slain was Peyton’s girlfriend, Beverly Ann Allen, also 19, from Washington State. Peyton and Allen had met the previous summer while employed at Crater Lake Lodge. Miss Allen had been visiting the Peytons during the Thanksgiving weekend. The two college students had left for an evening drive following dinner. Allen’s body was discovered nearly two months later lying in roadside brush, alongside a highway, west of Portland. (The murders were eventually solved 10 or so years later, but not conclusively.)

 

 

1959


Ralph Peyton and Jim Griffin acquire the Crater Lake Lodge Company from the Smiths. Negotiations begin with the new concessionaires for the NPS to buy the Lodge for $285,000 and convert the building into a visitor center. The new concessionaires were to take the purchase price and construct a new motel accommodating 250 people adjacent to the cafeteria building. A new access road was planned from the south that would diverge from the existing road below Rim Campground and allow visitors to avoid the congested plaza area as they made their way to the new visitor center.




 

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