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Smith Brothers' Chronological History of Crater Lake National Park



<< 1982   1983   1984 >>


83 The Rim Center Building is severely damaged during a record snowfall at Rim Village of 25 to 28 feet. This becomes the deepest recorded snowfall in the state. The Headquarters weather station measures a record 22 feet of snow on the ground on Easter Sunday morning.

Sleepy Hollow cabins #41, #43 and #45 are crushed by the winter’s excessive snow load and are abandoned.

The research boat, “The Queen ll”, is destroyed as it smashes on rocks and the wreckage is strewn around Cleetwood Cove. Styrofoam from the boat’s floats continue to visually pollute the Cove for several years.


Kevin Peer, free lance film maker begins filming winter scenes for a new informational film about Crater lake. Kevin spends a week on top of the Watchman taking time-lapse photographs of storms passing over the Lake. Peer also spends the winter writing the movie’s scripts. Returning in the summer, Peer films additional footage, including an reenactment of the Lake’s discovery and the staging of William Steel’s famous School House lunch box discovery of Crater Lake. The new film will replace the 30 year old “Crater Lake Story”.

February 10

An avalanche from off of Castle Crest closes the Rim access road just above Headquarters.


148 inches of wet snow falls during the month.


A snow pack of emergency proportions sends out all able-bodied employees to shovel snow from the flat roofed residence buildings. Some of the houses in Steel Circle had up to 252 inches of snow on their roofs. Many Park buildings suffered extreme snow and ice damage.

April 3

Easter Sunday Morning. A new snow depth record of 252 inches (or 21 feet) is established at Park Headquarters, breaking the previous record of 18 feet set in . Rim Village set a new Oregon State snow depth record of 27 feet. The seasonal total of accumulated snowfall reaches 635 inches, or 52.9 feet.

May 9

The Warehouse building is declared unsafe for entry because of snow damage.

Summers 1983 and 1984
A two year experiment conducted by contracting out the operation of Mazama Campground to the Lodge Company in an attempt to see if contracting services will save operational money. All camping fees in the Park are tripled to “match the prices of the private sector.”


A bacteriological survey of ground water inflow into Crater Lake shows nitrate and fecal coliform of measurable levels. The study indicates there may be low levels of sewage entering the Lake.

The leach fields in the Rim Village area are suspected of Lake contamination

A U.S.G.S. study finds a high level of lead concentrated in the water around Cleetwood Cove. The lead undoubtedly stems from the tour boat operation.  

A major project begun to preserve, duplicate and properly store the 17 volumes of the Steel Scrapbooks.

A cougar is sighted near the Watchman.

One “garbage “bear is euthanized near the Park boundary. A bear cub carcass is found near Rim Drive.


The position of Assistant Superintendent is reestablished after being vacant for 20 years.

June 17

The North Entrance Road opens, following a record snow year.

June 20

A 26 acre prescribed burn is set south of the Ponderosa Pine Picnic Area. The same unit was burned in 1976.

July 8

Steve Jonas, 29, of Moscow, Idaho, seasonal maintenance employee for the past 5 years, mysteriously disappears after being seen walking along Annie Creek Canyon. A Park visitor reported to the Annie Spring Entrance Station seeing a car precariously perched on the ledge of the canyon, at the “Ole Van” turnout, with a man of Jonas’s description standing nearby. When a ranger patrol arrives about 15 minutes later, Jonas had disappeared. A massive search was mounted with a helicopter crew, search dog teams, and 25 volunteer searchers, but no trace of Jonas has ever been found. On his way out of the Park, Steve had stopped for gas and had mumbled something about wanting to kill himself, but nobody took it seriously because he had a history of mental illness and depression, ever since returning from the Service.

July 15

Mazama Campground opens. Snow remains in the campground until August.

July 27

Rim Drive is opened.

July 7

Superintendent James Rouse, 54, completes his second Crater Lake Marathon.

Crater Lake Rim Run Results:

Marathon Richard Stewart  2:53.35
            Georgette Cooper 4:09.51

13.1 miles Ric Sayre  1:13.35
            Nina Putzar  1:37.27

6.7 miles Tom Ansberry   32:38
            Maria Gonzales   42:55


Kent Schwarzkope conducts a study of the “Feeding of Golden Mantled Ground Squirrels” by Park visitors in Rim Village. The study found that a sign stressing the danger to humans of Bubonic Plague was twice as effective in deterring squirrel feeding as one emphasizing the welfare of the squirrels. Studies further showed that the Rim area supports 23 squirrels per acre, while only 5 squirrels per acre survive in the wilds of the Park. With no sign, between 10% to 20% of Park visitors fed the ground squirrels. Schwarzkope concludes that die-hard squirrel feeders are not affected by attempts to deter them, not even threats of monetary fines.


The 17 foot Boston Whaler purchased for use in winter water sampling of the Lake and a floating boathouse are damaged and then destroyed in a violent wind storm along with the summer research boat.

Season 1983

13,630 visitors take the boat tours.

The Park Service employs 55 seasonal employees. The Mazama Campground Concession grosses $62,000 for the Lodge Company after the camping fee in increased to $6.00 per night.

It is estimated that 18,000 cross country skiers visit Crater Lake each winter.

Season 1983 Visitation: 429,586

Fiscal Year 1983 - 1984

The Park’s budget, not including rehab and restoration programs, reaches $1,883,000.


<< 1982   1983   1984 >>





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