General Description

General Information Regarding Crater lake National Park, Season of 1917

General Description.

CRATER LAKE is a body of water of unbelievable blue occupying the crater of an extinct volcano in the very heart of the Cascade Range in Southern Oregon. In this neighborhood the Cascades merge into a broad, irregular platform surmounted by volcanic cones. The cones vary greatly in size and are distributed without regularity. Each has been an active volcano. The fragments, blown out by violent eruption, have fallen upon the volcanic orifice, from which they issued and built up cinder cones.

From their bases have spread streams of lava (coulees), raising the general level of the country between the cones. From some vents by many eruptions, both explosive and effusive, large cones, like McLoughlin, Shasta, and Hood, have been built up. Were we to examine their internal structure, exposed in the walls of the canyons carved in their slopes, we should find them composed of overlapping layers of lava and volcanic conglomerate. But to this general form of volcanic architecture there was an exception. One of the very largest of these ancient volcanoes was Mount Mazama, which lifted its majestic cone nearly to the height of Mount Rainier, 300 miles to the north.

But this was ages ago. No human eyes ever saw Mount Mazama. Long before man came the entire upper part of it in some titanic cataclysm fell in upon itself as if swallowed by a subterranean cavern, leaving its craterlike lava sides cut sharply downward into the central abyss.

What a spectacle that must have been!

The first awful depth of this vast hole no man can guess. But the volcano was not quenched. It burst up through the collapsed lavas in three places, making lesser cones within the crater, but none quite so high as the surrounding rim.

Then the fires ceased and gradually, as the years passed, springs percolated into the vast basin and precipitation, in the form of snow, filled it with water within a thousand feet of its rim.

This is Crater Lake.

To-day one small cone emerges a few hundred feet from the surface. The lake is 2,000 feet deep in places. It has no inlet of any sort, nor is there any stream running out of it; but the water is supposed to escape by underground channels and to reappear as springs in the Klamath region, a few miles away.

Geologists find Crater Lake of special interest because of the way nature made it. Many volcanoes have had their tops blown off and Mount Rainier was one of these, but no other in the United States has fallen in like Mount Mazama.

The evidence of this process is quite conclusive. The lava found on the slopes that remain was not blown there from an exploding summit, but ran, hot and fluid, from a crater many thousands of feet higher. The pitch of these outer slopes enables the scientist to tell with reasonable probability how high the volcano originally was.

There are crater lakes in other lands; in Italy, for instance, in Germany, India, and Hawaii; and although there are thousands of craters in this country, some of which contain small lakes, there is but one great caldera in the world and that contains Crater Lake.

Approaching the lake the observer sees a broad cluster of gentle peaks risin a out 1,000 feet above the general crest of the range on which they stand. The way winds over a large moraine littered with lava bowlders and well studded with firs. Arriving at the Crest, the lake in all its majestic beauty comes suddenly upon the scene, and is profoundly impressive.

“The lake?” wrote Joaquin Miller in the Sunset Magazine, “The Sea of Silence? Ah, yes, I had forgotten—so much else; besides, I should like to let it alone, say nothing. It took such hold on my heart, so unlike Yosemite, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, when first seen, that I love it almost like one of my own family. But fancy a sea of sapphire set around by a compact circle of the great grizzly rock of Yosemite. It does not seem so sublime at first, but the mote is in your own eye. It is great, great; but it takes you days to see how great. It lies 2,000 feet under your feet, and as it reflects its walls so perfectly that you can not tell the wall from the reflection in the intensely blue water you have a continuous unbroken circular wall of 24 miles to contemplate at a glance, all of which lies 2,000 feet, and seems to lie 4,000 feet, below. Yet so bright, so intensely blue is the lake, that it seems at times, from some points of view, to lift right in your face.”