Diary of Fletcher Linn
Crater Lake Trip, August 1889
Saturday, Aug. 24
Arose at about five and began to prepare to proceed on our way and direct our course homeward.
After breakfast, Carrie and I took light wagon and went to have a last look at the lake. Provision wagon proceeded on the way at 8:5, and light wagon followed an hour later.
We passed along Castle canyon, but did not get out of wagons to look at it. Had very good view from wagons. Passed through some very dense and fine timber and arrived at Rogue River falls at five, P.M. Ate lunch and fed horses at Union Creek at 1:30. Met 92 Indians returning from huckleberry patch at Whiskey creek.
Having had a long dusty ride during the day, we retired shortly after having supper, and singing a few of our favorite songs.
Road from lake to falls-grand.
Crater Lake is situated to the east of Jacksonville about eight five miles by the Rogue River road, or about one hundred and fifteen miles by way of Dead Indian and Fort Klamath. It is situated directly in the summit of the Cascade range, at an elevation of 6000 ft. It is surrounded by perpendicular cliffs, varying from 1600 to 3000 feet in height, and its greatest ascertained depth is about 1988 feet, making the depth from the top of the highest bluff to the lowest part of the lake bottom nearly five thousand feet.
Near the western shore of the lake is an island, having the form of a frustrum of a cone. The island is about eight hundred feet high, and the sides are upon an incline of nearly 45 degrees. It is composed of a very loose, ashy material which renders the accent quite difficult. In the summit of the island is the crater of an extinct volcano. It is several hundred feet in diameter, and a hundred feet deep. The island is covered with large fir trees, which show that the volcano has not been active for a great many years.
The way in which the lake was formed is a mystery. Many think that the entire lake once formed an immense crater five miles wide and seven long, and that the other small craters were formed by more recent eruptions, while others believe that while the volcano was in active operation, such a vast amount of earth was thrown out that a mere crust or shell remained, and this from the constant jarring and shaking gradually became loose and settled in one massive volume into the abyss beneath.
When the lake was discovered is not known, but a boat was first lowered to the water and the island first visited in 1869, by a party from Jacksonville of which party father was a member.
The lake was thoroughly explored by the U.S.G.S. in 1886.
For many years the Indians could but be induced to visit the lake as they believed it to by the abode of a great Indian chief of God, whom they greatly feared. But they have since dismissed this superstition, and many have gazed upon it in astonishment. As we gazed upon the lake from a bluff of rocks, 1600 feet above the water, a grand picture was presented to us. Naturally we first looked over the precipice and down upon the water. Near the water’s edge, it assumed a greenish tint, which gradually grew denser and denser and finally changed into a blue, and this in turn changed into almost a blackness.
To the right of us across the highest point of the lofty banks, 8000 feet high, while below could be seen the narrow trail winding down the gorge, over which we passed in our descent. To the left us stood the solitary island, sublime in appearance with its huge crater and scorched sides.
The immense walls were reflected by the clear water as if it were a vast mirror and thus made the depth of the lake appear much greater.
The sun had just arisen and cast a firey (sic) path across the lake, grand to look upon.
In the distance to the left of us, stood two peaks, one of which is Diamond peak. The view of these was grand.
Taking all in all, it was indeed a grand sight, and one which can never be forgotten.