Charles McCuller, 19, of Virginia, sets out from Roseburg,
telling friends that he plans on hitchhiking to Crater Lake in
order to take winter pictures of the Lake. Several people
remember seeing him in the Diamond Lake area, but that is the
last time anyone sees or hears from McCuller. There is reason to
believe that he planed to hike to Crater Lake along The North
Road. A heavy snowfall during the previous two weeks dropped
over five feet of fresh snow. Cross country skiers report that
the snow was so soft and powdery, that even with skis, they were
sinking up to their waists. McCuller’s father flies out to
Oregon two weeks later and conducts an extensive air and ground
search of the northern section of the Park, but no clues as to
McCuller’s disappearance are uncovered. (See October 13 & 14,
A blue Cessna 182, with a Klamath Falls teacher and two of his
students on board, is reported lost at 9 p.m. about 35 miles
northeast of Klamath Falls. Searchers feel the plane possibly
could have gone down over the Park. No wreckage found. (See July
A new elevation of 6,179.34 feet establishes a new record Lake
level. This is 16 feet above the 1942 Lake level.
Master Plan Public Workshops are held in Klamath Falls, Portland
and Medford, respectfully. Master Plan issues and alternatives
are presented and discussed.
Water samples taken at two sites in the Park show positive
Coliform Bacteria count. Chlorine release into the water supply
Park’s water is retested with one site still showing evidence of
Coliform Bacteria present in the water.
All water samples sent in by the Park test negative at the
Oregon Health Lab in Portland.
Reconstruction begins on the last 4 miles of the West Entrance
road for an estimated cost of $929,000.
Elva Michael, after five years of Park employment, leaves the
Park for her home in Corvallis.
Datsun pickup rolls below Rim Village.
A $50,000 remodeling begins on the Lodge kitchen.
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.
Cliff Stock and Burke Gurney slip on an overhanging snow bank
and fall 400 feet inside the caldera at the Watchman Overlook,
suffering only minor injuries.
The son of Park Superintendent Richard Sims becomes ill. Doctor
feels it is appendicitis.
Sick employees are instructed to “Use Kaopectate” for their
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”.
Reports begin to filter in about Park visitors being struck down
with a strange illness. Some claim it is Llao’s Revenge. Service
station operators complain of soiled restrooms all the way to
the California line.
Two YCC leaders meet with the Park’s administration and ask
permission to take water samples to the Klamath Health
Center. At first the request is granted, and then Chief Wiggins
overrules the leaders telling them, “Don’t bother.”
$7,500 contract let to continue corrective work on the Mazama
Several young Peregrine falcons are successfully raised in the
Park by their parents. The nest is never located.
Waldo Nye, 198 Mill Creek Drive, Prospect, Oregon grandson of
Chauncey Nye and grandson-in-law of Superintendent Arant, visits
Jack Stump, YCC counselor, collects two water samples from the
Ranger Dorm and Mess Hall, and along with several fecal samples
collected from sick employees, Jack heads for Klamath Falls.
90 employees are known to be sick, which is about 40% of the
Peter von Ohlen, regional engineer, Oregon State Health
Division, arrives in the Park to find 6-8 feet of snow covering
the watershed area. Peter learns of inadequate training of water
system personnel, questionable record keeping and that the
runoff melt water from the Rim Village parking lot drains
directly into the Park’s watershed at Munson Spring. Because of
the heavy snowpack, and inadequate maps, von Ohlen doesn’t
realize that the Rim Village sewer line passes directly above
Munson Springs, the main source of the Park’s water supply. Von
Ohlen leaves the Park, reporting that the employee illness is a
form of the “flu”.
Klamath Basin Water and Soil Testing Laboratory reports that the
YCC furnished water samples show that “water does not conform
with accepted bacteriological standards of purity for drinking
water. Fecal coliforms present. Negative for pathogen”.
State health and medical people arrive in the Park to
investigate the sudden out-break of so much wide spread
illness. An extensive water testing lab is eventually set up in
the Administration Building. The Park’s water supply is suspect,
but exhaustive testing over the next several days reveals
nothing unusual in the water.
Some employees decide to boil their water.
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.
Dr. Jeffery Koplan, Palo Alto, California, of the Center for
Disease Control of Public Health’s Bureau of Epidemiology
arrives in the in the Park. He views the snow covered sewer line
area from the Lodge parking lot and sees no evidence of any
YCC leaders meet with Chief of Maintenance, Jeff Adams and Chief
Ranger Wiggins and are told that their water samples showing
“fecal coliform” were probably not taken properly. YCC Director
then shows the results of the water test to Dr. Koplan who says
it makes the water suspect and that it should be boiled, but
says that he is still undecided as to the method of illness
Dr. Mark Rosenberg, CDC, Atlanta, arrives in the Park. His
reaction to the YCC water report is, “You have been drinking _ _
_ (human waste).
A State Health Division staff nurse who had just returned from a
bus tour of Crater Lake calls Dr. Googins to say that 14 out of
15 people on the bus tour, which had visited Crater Lake on July
4, are sick. This call establishes the incubation period of the
illness - 36 to 48 hours.
Dr. Koplan is notified that individuals on the serving line in
the Cafeteria have been observed taking Kaopectate so that they
can continue working.
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
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
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
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.”
Miss Wright learns that 4 out of 10 water samples show evidence
of sewage contamination. This evidence she feel is sufficient,
in her opinion, to close the Park.
Ryan Gilmore, food service manager, following a food service
inspection by Drs. Koplan and Rosenberg, decides to close the
Lodge dining room tomorrow to consolidate employees who can
still work in the cafeteria.
The YCC staff decides to close camp on July 12.
Dr. Koplan is still concerned that the transmission method is
unknown, but feels there is “insufficient evidence” to close the
park. Dr. Googins, disturbed about the indecision, calls Dr.
Conrad, Dr. Koplan’s supervisor in Atlanta. Dr. Conrad concurs
with Dr. Koplan that there is not sufficient evidence supporting
a closure of the Park. After several more calls, the director of
the CDC is contacted in Atlanta and the local doctors are told,
“Let’s consider this overnight and we’ll give you a call on July
11.” Several of the doctors now feel that the method of illness
transmission is “person-to-person” contact.
Dr. Barns digs through the snow pack to find the chlorine line
at Munson Springs and finds that the chlorinator’s position and
lack of mixing, allows the water in the Headquarters line to
bypass the chlorinator completely. Another chlorinator is
installed on the Headquarters line. Barns then digs through the
snow to take samples in the Headquarter’s reservoir.
At 7:30 p.m. Jeff Adams discovers an area directly below the
Lodge where the snow has fallen in and discovers an overflowing
manhole on the sewer line leading directly from the Lodge. The
exposed ground is covered with sewage, solid waste and toilet
At 8:10 p.m., fluorescein dye is placed in the manhole above the
overflow. Green dye appears at the plugged manhole within a few
minutes. Forty minutes later the dye appears at Munson
Springs. Barns crawls into the collection caisson at the springs
and finds evidence of dye coming in from the collection
pipes. Titus, Barns and Dr. Koplan pry the cover off of the
collection caisson and discover solid sewer waste floating in
the cement box.
Titus and Barnes walk the watershed between Munson Spring and
the Lodge, checking all holes in the snow. Solid human waste and
paper are visible. The odor of human waste is very evident.
At 10 p.m. a flat 6-inch rock is removed from the sewer
line. Superintendent Sims is notified and Park rangers start a
massive house-to-house operation to warn residents to stop using
any water immediately. When Dr. Rosenberg was asked by
dispatcher ranger, Larry Smith, why the residents couldn’t just
continue boiling the water the doctor answered rather
agitatedly, “You can’t boil out Human Feces” Memos follow. All
Park residents are notified by midnight.
Drs. Koplan and Rosenberg recommend gamma globulin shots as
precaution against hepatitis by all who visited Crater Lake. The
doctors recommend the closing of the Park.
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.
All available Park staff are assembled at Headquarters to begin
a massive mailout to all Park Visitors who had spent at least
one night in the Park warning them of the water problem and
suggesting that they seek medical attention. No addresses exist
for the hundreds of visitors who had camped at Mazama and the
Rim Campgrounds. It was interesting to find that many of the
Lodge visitors had used fictitious or nonexistent addresses.
The North Entrance is chained and closed to all travel. Numerous
cases of illegal entries are reported during the three-week
Water lines are flushed with a high concentration of
chlorine. With all the reservoirs drained, the Park is left
without fire protection.
Theft of 40 year-old “Wizard Island” sign with the old style
raised lettering. The “Vidae Falls” sign is the only old style
sign still remaining on display in the Park.
Helicopter search of the Park looking for a missing blue Cessna
182 that went down on February 26 with three persons on
board. The overflights hope also to find clues of Charles
McCuller, missing for the past 6 months. Negative results.
Crater Lake National Park reopens for visitors. Because of
limited water supplies, water conservation is urged. The
and the Rim Campground remain closed. The Park’s water is being
supplied by three Army portable water purifying units from Ft.
Lewis, Washington set alongside the road at Munson Springs.
Kelsay E. Hinshaw, age 75, dies of a heart attack after climbing
A large arrowhead emblem is stolen from the South Entrance sign.
Kimberly Brown, age 9, falls from Mazama Campground into Annie
Creek Canyon and is rescued by Park personnel. Kimberly receives
numerous bruises, cuts and a fractured skull.
Mrs. Lois McLeary (??) dies of a heart attack at midnight in
front of the Administration Building.
A Volkswagen bug is driven off the road and into the canyon one
mile below Rim Village. The car rolls several times and the
driver is thrown from the car. The driver, who had been
drinking, is unhurt, but the car is a total loss. The soldier,
who was on leave, had just purchased the car and was not yet
covered by insurance.
A massive ground and air search is conducted for Charles
McCullar at the direction of the young man’s father. Mr.
McCullar spends much of the summer camped at various locations
in the Park searching most of the Northern area. During a one
week period, YCC and Park personnel conduct a through grid
search for the boy along the North Entrance Road. No trace of
young McCullar is found until October 14, 1976.
Completion of a new water line connecting Annie Spring to the
Park’s water system. Munson Spring is abandoned as a water
source of massive contamination. A full-time sanitarian and
water control person is hired.
HEARING BEFORE THE COMMITTEE ON INTERIOR AND INSULAR AFFAIRS OF
THE UNITED STATES SENATE, NINETY-FOURTH CONGRESS. FIRST SESSION
ON THE OVERSIGHT TO CLARIFY CIRCUMSTANCES WHICH LED TO THE
CLOSURE OF CRATER LAKE NATIONAL PARK, Medford, Oregon. Conducted
by Senator Mark Hatfield.
The hearing has been called to investigate serious allegations
that have been raised concerning the circumstances which led to
the closure of the Park on July 11. The allegations of a cover
up has cast a shadow over the performance of the various
officials and enterprises who have the responsibilities
for preserving the integrity of the Government's custodianship
of the national parks. The allegations have raised the
possibility of a cover up that was supposedly engineered by the
park, concessionaire and the NPS and that pressure was brought
on officials to ignore the serious threat to the public and that
the concessionaire’s employees who handled food at the park were
made to work while sick, which endangered the public.
The hearing lasts for 13 hours and covered 226 pages of
Mr. Hatfield is astounded to learn that Park Superintendents do
not receive specialized training before assuming their positions
Senator: “Do you have a superintendent’s manual or some printed
outline of your duties and responsibilities as a park
superintendent?” Mr. Sims: “I have never seen anything.”
Senator: “Did you receive any instructions from any person on
the conduct and responsibilities of the Superintendent of Crater
Lake National Park/” Mr. Sims: “No sir.”
Mr. Hatfield becomes very upset that, with the all of the
documented cases of employees and visitors becoming sick after
visiting Crater Lake, that the Park had not been closed
sooner. “Closing the Park even one day sooner than you did, had
the potential of saving thousands from potential illness. What
were you waiting for...someone to die first!?” (paraphrased)
Senator Hatfield concludes that there has not been a cover up as
such by Park officials, but rather a series of serious blunders
compounded by inexperience, inattention and poor training by
many of the Park and U.S. Health personnel involved in the water
crisis. There had been also a breakdown of command because: Park
authority was not clearly defined, there was much confusion
because of overlapping jurisdictions and nobody seemed to be in
charge. Senator Hatfield: “Rather than trying to save the people
who were on fire, you were out looking for the cause of the
Rescue of two Park visitors from below the Mather Overlook. The
rescue operation cost the government $774.
Frank Betts enters on duty as the Park’s 20th Superintendent,
transferring in from Grand Teton National Park.
A wolf is spotted near Sentinel Rock. Tracks measured 2.5 inches
wide and 3.5 inches long. The animal had been digging for
rodents when startled.
Third highest lake level recorded since 1892.
Lake water completely covers the permanent dock at Cleetwood
Cove. For the next two years the dock is covered by about 5 feet
of water, forcing the boat crew to raise the ticket shack up to
the Lake Trail.
Season Visitation: 427,252. Down 20% due to the three week
closure of the Park during July and August.