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Smith Brothers' Chronological History of Crater Lake National Park



<< 1975   1976   1977 >>


January 18

Chief Ranger Dan Sholly enters on duty from Yosemite National Park (a Viet Nam Marine), thus begins a new and unique era for Crater Lake because of his dynamic and energetic leadership.

January 19

Legislation introduced into Congress that would remove mining claims from most National Parks, including Crater Lake.


Large Headquarter’s mantle photo (transparency) is installed, taken by John Davis and Superintendent Frank Betts from an elevation of 16,000 feet.

March 1

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

March 6

Forced entry into the Rim Center discovered. 

March 8

Superintendent Betts issues orders to prohibit cattle grazing within the Park.

April 16

Forced entry into the Lodge dorm by four men seeking shelter from the cold. The four had been warned that accommodations were not available during the winter.


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.

June 8 or 9

George Morrison, Chief Park Naturalist, spots a “Big Foot” creature crossing the South Road at dusk, headed into Annie Creek Canyon. With four steps, the up-right creature crossed the road. Because of distance and tree shadows, a description is difficult. Morrison could not locate any footprints. George is an experienced ornithologist and experienced in nature observation. Morrison was shaken by his sighting.

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.

July 17

Mr. Jack Jackman becomes separated from his son while hiking along the Pacific Crest Tail and ends up walking 15 miles north to Highway 130. The Park mounts an extensive search for Jackman.

July 18

$209 in tips stolen from the Lodge wine cooler and $50 stolen from a flight bag left behind the Lodge desk.

July 19

$80 stolen from Lodge dorm.


It has now been a year since the closing of the Park because of water contamination. Law suits and tort claims continue to be filed against the government and Lodge Company. Over 1500 people have been affected by the water contamination. Costs and claims mount into the millions of dollars.

July 20

Self-service gas pumps at the service station are damaged as vandals pull off covers.


Wettest August on record - 5.94 inches.        

Superintendent Frank Betts sights a wolf in the vicinity of Mt. Scott and Anderson Meadow. Betts, having been assigned to parks in Alaska was well trained in wolf sighting.

New Headquarters area sewer lines are installed connecting every building and residence.

First Annual Crater Lake Rim Run marathon. The event attracts 49 runners. This may be the highest elevation marathon in America. A cool, foggy day.

Rim Run Winners:

Men: 6.5 miles, Dave Ellison, Klamath Falls, Oregon  37.28
      13.0 miles, Bruce Manboyl, Crater Lake, Oregon 1:21.25
      26.2 miles, Frank Shields, Chiloquin, Oregon 3:28.21

Women: 6.5 miles, Nancy Kurth, Klamath Fall, Oregon 52.46

August 3

Verbal threat of rape reported by YCC enrollee while hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.

Seasonal Ranger, Phil Hixson rides the first horse over 5 miles of the new PCT Trail near the South Park boundary.

August 8

Arrest of James MacGregor for the burglary of $30 from a cold water cabin and for larceny of a car for $225.

August 9

Six inches of snow closes the Rim Drive for two days.

August 13

Large landslide scars the face of Cloudcap and “Chief Red Cloud’s” face.

August 15

Eight inches of snow closes the Rim Drive for three more days.


The YCC (Youth Conservation Corps) becomes the direct responsibility of the Park Service, rather than being handled on a contract basis.

Major rerouting of Pacific Crest Trial at Pumice Desert. The trail was moved east into the trees so as to cut down on plant damage in the desert and to line up with a rerouting of the trail around Mt. Thielsen.

Chief Ranger Sholly establishes physical standards and testing for all employees.

24 hour operations are moved from the Headquarters building to the Annie Spring Entrance Station.

Seasonal Ranger Phil Hixson’s only arrest when he takes in an 18 year-old man for trying to sell marijuana to a younger person in the Headquarter’s comfort station.

Horse patrols begin for paroling the back country and Rim Village.

The old Stone Pump House at Munson Springs is torn down.


Filming continues on the Park’s new film, “The Crater Lake Story”, written and directed by award winning filmmaker, Kevin Peer.


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

September 2

$300 worth of vandalism done to a MG convertible top.

September 4

Rescue of two hikers from below the Watchman. The hikers had been attempting to reach the Lake.

September 5

A Jacksonville man claims that he was offered $1,000 to go over the Rim Wall and retrieve a wallet containing $2,000 that had dropped from the owner’s coat as he leaned over the parapet to look at the Lake.

September 6 - 7

NPS Director, Gary Everhart and Deputy NPS Director visit Crater Lake. Director Everhart holds a press conference to discuss President Ford’s announcement of a $1.5 billion proposal for additions to and up-gradings of the country’s National Parks.

September 10

Brian Thomas, 26, a Viet Nam veteran suffering from a severe case of post battle shock, arrives at Crater Lake, along with his wife, hoping that the peaceful, mountain surroundings will calm his troubled spirit. Brian had been threatening suicide while battling bouts of depression. Thomas spent much of the night, sitting in the Lodge lobby, wrapped in a sheet, talking and praying. Mrs. Thomas keeps an all night vigil, hoping to be able to intervene in case her husband becomes violent or dangerous to himself.

September 11

At about 8:00 a.m. Brian Thomas suddenly jumps up, announcing that he is going to kill himself, and runs out of the Lodge. Mrs. Thomas screams for help, and is quickly joined in the chase by the boat crew and several other Lodge employees. Thomas leads his pursuers along the Rim Promenade toward the Visitor Center and the Sinnott Overlook. Running down the long stone stairway, with the boat crew yelling for him to stop, Thomas, without missing a step, jumps to his death from the curving parapet of the entrance walkway in full view of Ranger Linda Appanaitis and a group of Park visitors.

September 19

Four airmen, stationed at Kingsley field in Klamath Falls, are arrested for stealing nine interpretive and informational signs valued at $650. The four men spend six days in jail and each are assigned to 40 hours of community work in the Park.

September 25

A prescribed burn of 250 acres takes five weeks to burn itself out among the Ponderosa Pines of the south Panhandle.

October 13

Two hikers, from Texas, turn in to Park Headquarters a ripped and torn backpack they found while walking along a little used trail in the Sphagnum Bog area of the Park. The two Texans had been hiking the Pacific Crest Trail when they mistakenly took the abandoned spur trail into the bog.

October 14

While inventorying the contents of a nearly empty, dirty, ripped and torn backpack, Rangers Larry Smith and Marion Jack discover a Volkswagen key in a zippered side pocket. A suggestion is made to compare the VW key with a Xerox copy of a VW key from the Charles McCullar file, who was thought to have disappeared somewhere in the Park a year and half earlier. An “electric charge” went through the two rangers as the overlaid key made a perfect fit. A horse patrol, lead by Marion and Dave Lange set out immediately to search the area where the backpack had been found. At 1:30 p.m. the radio call came that McCullar’s remains had been found, scattered over and down a steep bank of the Bybee Creek drainage, four miles from Lightning Springs. The FBI is called in to complete the investigation.

McCullar’s cause of death is ruled by natural causes, but the mystery remains how it was possible for McCullar to have walked from the North Entrance, on top of 105 inches of new snow, 14 miles into Bybee Creek, especially considering that the young man was not prepared for winter survival. One theory is that McCullar may have followed snowmobile tracks, but the machines are not allowed into remote areas of the Park and secondly, the new snow was so fresh and deep, it would have been impossible for snowmobiles to have traveled the distance.

So, just how McCullar was able to get into the Bybee Creek drainage remains conjecture, as does his exact cause of death. The boy’s father remains convinced that his son was the victim of foul play because none of McCullar’s expensive camera equipment was ever found.

October, 1976 to June, 1977

The Lake level drops 2.16 feet, the greatest winter decline on record.

December 9

The second latest measurable fall snowfall on record. October 1 is normal for the beginning of the winter snow season. 50% of the time, the Rim Road is closed for the season by the third week of October.

December 31

Supervisory Park Ranger Bruce Wadlington and family drive completely around the Lake on the Rim Drive. This is the latest seasonal drive on record.

Season 1976

Snowfall for the past 60 years averages 650.66 inches (54 feet) or 16.53 meters. The average yearly precipitation averages 65.99 inches or 1.676 meters.

Season 1976 Visitation: 606,636, the second highest on record. This is an increase of 179,384 over 1976 and an increase of 81,606 over the visitation in 1974. Good summer weather and a dry fall contributed to the increase. 

<< 1975   1976   1977 >>





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