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Smith Brothers' Chronological History of Crater Lake National Park

 

   

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October 21


Chauncey Nye and a party of prospectors, unaware of the previous Lake discovery, accidentally stumble upon the Lake and name it “Blue Lake”. They were heading for Jacksonville, coming from the Eastern Oregon gold fields of John Day. 

November 8


The first published article about Blue Lake (Crater Lake) appears in the Semi-Weekly, OREGON SENTINEL, published at Jacksonville, on Saturday evening. HEAD WATERS OF ROGUE RIVER, BLUE LAKE: On the afternoon of the 21st day of October late, a small party of us were wending our way up the Cascade range of mountains, about fifteen miles south of Diamond Peak, leaving behind us the Black Pine Desert of the Klamath Lake country, and anxious to reach the summit in time to obtain a view of the promised land--vis: Rogue Valley. reaching the summit aimed at, one of the highest points of the range, our course was changed by an unlooked for obstacle, and one that even a John Day party were obligated to go around. Before us, and at our feet, lay a large lake, encircled on all sides by steep and almost perpendicular bluff banks, fully as high as that we were standing upon. The circumference of this land we could not estimate at less than twenty-five miles, and from the banks down to the water, not less than three thousand feet. At no place could we see the remotest chance of being able to climb down to the water, without the aid of long ropes and rope ladders. Near the south end of the lake high, and drifts of snow lay clinging to the crevices of the rocky banks, The water was of a deep blue color, causing us to name it Blue Lake. It lays about one mile west of Mt. Scott; fifteen miles south of Diamond Peak, and eighty miles northeast from Jacksonville. In the distance, and situated in the low pass that connects the Klamath country with head waters of Rogue River, another lake was visible, not as large, apparently, and accessible, bordering as it does on a large prairie. From the banks of Blue Lake no outlet is visible, but on descending the west side of the mountain, which is densely covered with heavy hemlock timber, we found water gushing out, and fine grass on what we called the water level of the lake, and following this level around the west and sough sides, springs and small streams were crossed every few yards. The waters of which joined together in the large basin or valley below form an important feeder to the North Fork of Rogue River, in fact empty into it a volume of water equal in amount to one quarter of the whole river at Table Rock Ferry.


UNION PEAK Five miles south of the Blue Lake, on a spur of the Cascades, stands a high rocky peak, which we ascended to lay out our route down the almost unknown regions of the head waters of the river. Reaching the summit of this peak, after an hour of hard climbing up the loose, rocky sides, with many a pause, when the wind blew the hardest, in order not to be blown off into the canyon below, we found ourselves standing on a space about ten feet by six, walled around carefully with loose rock to the height of three or four feet, evidently the work of Indians in olden time. Below us, to the northwest, lay the large basin in which are collected the waters of the North Fork, and beyond the Cascades we looked down upon the waters of the Klamath Lakes, the deserts and prairies that we had so slowly toiled over last Spring; Shasta Butte in full view to its base; Mt. McLaughlin, seemly, almost within reach; and down the river, dense forests covering the innumerable mountains and hills that form the west side of the Cascades. Beyond, in the southwest, lay the Main valley, with Jacksonville snugly stowed away in the far corner, and all the view in this direction backed by the Siskiyou range, running either way as far as the eye could reach. Christening our standing place, Union Peak, we scrambled down, mounted our animals and took our course for the lorks (sic). Union Peak can be seen from our town any clear day. ROAD By cutting a trail from the forks to Blue Lake Basin, up the valley of the North Fork, a distance of twenty miles, the road in open, and good, from Jacksonville to the head waters of Des Chutes, on the old Dalles Trail, and the distance will not exceed one hundred miles to the point, by the spring trail, was 175 miles - avoiding, also, almost the whole of the Klamath desert of black pine and pumice stone; with grass and water abundant, and not mountain to climb. by this route, a wagon road can be cut through on to the Des Chutes, by any one who is acquainted with the country, at a very small expense. (signed) “One of the Party”

 

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