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Smith Brothers' Chronological History of Crater Lake National Park



<< 1987   1988   1989 >>


Five Lake researchers spend five days on Wizard Island studying the Lake. The biggest surprise was to learn that fish spawn in January.

January 21

The Portland Oregonian comes out in favor of preserving the Lodge for the benefit of the public. “Crater Lake is a major attractor of tourists to Oregon and a major contributor to the economic health of Southern Oregon. Its role ought not be restricted to five months a year. Thus, the need for a fifth alternative: restoring the historic lodge for year-round accommodations.”

January 26

At a hearing held in Medford, the NPS was told by many in the audience that “Crater Lake Lodge is a historic treasure and needs to be retained in some form. NW Regional Director, Charles Odegaard responded by saying, “ I will make the best decision I am capable about making. Hearings were also held in Klamath Falls, Roseburg and Portland. Several people felt the Lodge should be retained, but turned into an interpretive center.


The past seven months have seen the lowest accumulative snowfall on record.

February 25

NPS Northwest Regional Director, Charles Odegaard announces that Crater Lake Lodge will be restored for summer use and a new 60-room year-round lodge and visitors center will be built on the Rim. The total project is estimated to cost $33 million. Lodge rehabilitation costs set at $6.8 million. (The final price tag by 1995 nears $21 million for the old lodge and the costs for the new hotel soars over $66 million.) The key features of the project include: A three-level, 2.5 acre parking structure for about 640 vehicles. An adjacent lot would serve recreational vehicles and tour buses; a new pedestrian walkway, including an underpass below Rim Drive; the existing 400-car parking lot and another 100 parking spaces along the rim would be removed and replaced by natural vegetation. New housing for 98 seasonal employees would be built at Mazama Village, plus a 5,000-foot concession workshop and storage building. A new headquarters building would be built near the south entrance. A smaller dormitory, warehouse, museum storage and offices, plow shed and shuttle bus barn would also be built there.

March 28

Karen and Mike Riplinger of Eugene, OR, are rescued by helicopter after being lost for seven days in a snowstorm while attempting to ski around the Lake.

April 21

Three peregrine falcon chicks are born on a rocky cliff overlook the Lake. This is the first successful natural hatching of Park peregrines in eight years. The hatching is the culmination of a seven-year effort to reestablish falcons at the Park.

May 12

Jim Milestone, resource specialist reports that both the newly hatched falcon chicks and the mother are missing and believed dead. “It’s a big, big loss,” Milestone said. “It’s a major disappointment.” Great horned owls may have attacked the birds.

1987 - 1988

Snowfall: 369 inches, 31 feet.

June 15

Crater Lake gains special protection from geothermal drilling by being designated by Congress as a “significant” thermal feature. The designation protects the areas around the Park from leasing if drilling will hurt the thermal features.

July 7

Hank Tanski, Assistant Chief of Interpretation, transfers to John Day NM after 10 years of service.

July 12

A boat load of Park visitors is stranded on Wizard Island due to high winds and 7 foot waves. The group reaches the top of the Cleetwood Trail around midnight. Rangers used a small tractor and trailer to pull four people up the trail. One woman had twisted her ankle, one person was nauseous, and two others complained of fatigue.

July 26

A lightning strike on the north side of Mt. Scott burns 0.1 acres. The fire is monitored as a prescribed natural fire. (dubbed the Prophecy Fire)

August 2

An Aerospatiale Super Puma helicopter lowers a one-man submarine to the boat dock on Wizard Island. NPS fish biologist, Mark Buktenica was quoted as saying, “ This is a fantastic opportunity...a once-in-a-lifetime chance.” Deep Rover, weighing 7,200 pounds will spend the next three weeks exploring the depths of Crater Lake looking geothermal vents, among other things. The three week summer research project will cost $225,000.The sub has a top speed of 1.5 knots.

Following several dives, Jack Dymond and Robert Collier, both oceanographers from Oregon State, describe the bottom of Crater Lake as being a moonscape of underwater cliffs from 50 to 150 feet tall, scattered rocks, mineral deposits and fields of sediment. Dymond was quoted as saying, “I found it an extraordinary experience I have ever had.” At 1,200 feet the scientists could turn off the Deep Rover’s battery powered lights, look up, and still see blue light filtering through the surface. “That is quite an incredible depth for light to penetrate,” Collier said. “It is one of the more amazing things to me.”

August 8

According to the MT, last Friday, Oceanographer Jack Dymond becomes the first person to see the bottom of Crater Lake.

August 13

The 13th running of the Crater Lake Marathon.
6. 7 miles Don Clary, 31,     34:50 
13 miles  Ric Sayre, 33, of Ashland, OR  1:09:20 (broke 10 year old record)
26 miles  Don Stearns, 27, of Bend, OR  2:47:17 (has now won all 3 events)    Dawn Welch, 40, of Grants Pass, OR 3:18:22 (new women’s record) 

August 14 & 15

Deep Rover locates moss growing in the Lake at 700 feet below the surface, setting a new World’s record for underwater plants, surpassing the old moss depth record of 425 feet.


Park Biologist, Mark Buktenica describes the feeling of diving into the World’s deepest lake: “I was sitting alone in Crater Lake, 600 feet underwater in a small submarine name Deep Rover. I had just completed collecting rock samples along an underwater edge of Wizard Island, and I had 135 pounds of rocks in a basket attached to the front of the submarine. Unknown to me at the time, a couple of O-ring seals were leaking throughout the dive. Water seeping through the seals into the submarine, combined with condensation from my breathing, created an uncomfortable amount of water on the floor. My feet were near the front of the vessel, and as I prepared to start to the surface with the rocks, the submarine tilted forward. As the submarine tipped, the water level at my feet rose rapidly, giving the distinct impression that the submarine was filling with water. Garbled and intermittent communications with the surface crew aggravated the situation. Everyone operated expertly and efficiently; Deep Rover and the rock samples were recovered smoothly. Actual dangers and repairs turned out to be minimal, and the submarine dove again the next day.”

(from Crater Lake Nature Notes)

Diving to the deepest part of the Lake: By Mark Buktenica, Park Biologist: “I had the distinct privilege of conducting 17 dives in Deep Rover. As I slowly sank into the depths of the lake, I was engulfed in blue which eventually turned to darkness. The only sounds in the submarine were the creaking and popping of the hull as it adjusted to the increasing pressure and the persistent hum of the carbon dioxide scrubbers cleaning the air. The journey to the bottom could take up to 30 minutes, during which time my personal fears were easily extinguished by the intrigue and demands of the work. After reaching the bottom on my dive to the deepest part of Crater Lake, I shut off the scrubbers and instrument lights to better experience the solitude and quiet, and to briefly reflect on being the first person to visit the deepest part of the lake. After several moments, I looked up through the clear acrylic hull and noticed that the dive flag mounted on top of the submarine was visible, and silhouetted against a slightly lighter background. At 1,932 feet in depth my eyes could detect the vague light from the surface, a surprising testament to Crater Lake’s incredibly clarity. Yet there was little time for introspection. With less than six hours allowed per dive, I was fully occupied with monitoring electrical and life-support systems, operating the submarine, collecting samples, recording observations on tape and film, and communicating with the surface boat via an underwater wireless telephone. Although the submersible was designed to operate instinctively, many of the task I had to perform required extreme concentration and were mentally challenging, physically demanding, and sometimes frustrating. Most of the lake floor is covered by fine sand colored sediments, and operating the sub there was like flying at night over an uncharted desert.

August 15

The Prophecy Fire, burning since July 26 has now covered 20 acres. 

August 24

The Prophecy Fire grows from 105 acres to 1,000 acres in one afternoon. By the time it was declared controlled on August 31, the fire-fighting costs ballooned to $700,000. The fire was declared officially dead on December 1, 1988.

August 25

Entrance fees to all National Parks are suspended for one day. Charles Odegaard, regional director, dedicates the old superintendent’s residence as a National Historic Landmark.


30 natural fires were suppressed. Two natural fires are allowed to burn covering 7.6 acres. One prescribed burn of 14 acres.

October 29

A hiker along the Pacific Crest Trail discovers the body of Douglas Cracker, one half mile north of Hwy 62. Cracker had died of a single shot to the head. In tracing Cracker’s movements, rangers discover that the young man had left his home in California on August 22 and later stayed in a Klamath Falls motel on the nights of October 7 & 8. On October 9, the motel managers drove him to Fish Lake so that he could hike the PCT, north. When no further word was received from him by October 19, the managers reported Cracker missing. Cracker was seen in the Rim Cafeteria on October 20. That afternoon he began hiking south on the Dutton Creek Trail. He set up camp on the PCT and stayed there one or two days before committing suicide. A note was found in his wallet. Between October 20 and 29 a black bear found the body and dragged it downslope. Ranger McGuinness and Van Horn were the first rangers to respond to the hiker’s report, but they had to call for assistance when they determined that the bear was present nearby. The retrieval operation pretty much killed the Park’s Halloween party that Saturday night.

November 11

A five-person research team is trapped on Wizard Island for a week by heavy storms. 50 mph winds kept the helicopter grounded.

December 1

Three structures in Rim Village are listed on the National Register of Historic Structures. Two of the buildings had been slated for removal. This complicates the plans for Rim development.

December 20 - 23

Brian Smith, 18, of Jacksonville, Oregon is trapped by a blizzard for four days behind Button Cliff, while attempting to ski around Crater Lake. It took Smith six hours to ski east out to the Dutton area, and three days to ski back to Headquarters. Stove froze, no water or hot food.

1988 Fiscal year

Park budget set at $1.7 million

Season Visitation: 473,669

<< 1987   1988   1989 >>



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