Surveys – 04 The Survey

The survey:

A two-man survey crew spent seven weeks exploring over 255 square miles of mountainous terrain. Crater Lake National Park contains over 235 square mies of land surface; the lake covers approximately 30 square miles. The Oregon Caves Monument covers only nine-tenths of a square mile, but about 30 square miles of adjacent land was included in the search for archaeological sites. The strategy employed was to eliminate from the survey as rapidly as possible barren or otherwise unsuitable terrain and to concentrate on the regions where food plants and/or game animals were present. The survey sought for economically productive lands, such as berrying grounds or marshy ground where edible roots or tubers might grow, for suitable village or campsite areas, inhabitable rock shelters or caves, and for rock exposures where pictographs or petroglyphs might occur.

The Oregon Caves Hational Moinument ecompasses parts of Sections 9, 10, 16, and 15, TownshIp 40 South, Range 6 West,. Willamette Meridian. The Monument lies in the Siskiyou Mountains at about 4,000 feet elevation. It probably lies within the northern portion of the Californian Biotic Province just a few miles east of the Redwood district of the Oregonian Province (Dice 1943; Yap 1, ’33-34,, 4-49). The caves are solution caverns dissolved out of a local marble formation. The openings are found in outcrops on a steep hillside. The cover is conifer forest with an understory of deciduous species such as oaks, vine maple, chinquapin, laurel and madrona occurring in clearings and along the stream banks. The climate is characterized by cool, dry summers and moist winters with considerable snowall at higher elevations (Wilson 1952).

The black-tail deer (0docoilus virginianus) range throughout the region and wapiti (Cervus canadensis roosevelti) formerly were plentiful.  Several species of nuts and berries were noted in t’he vicinity of the Caves, hasel nut chinquapin, acorns, black oaks, blackberry (Western Dewberry), salmonberry, and red huckleberry.

No attempt was made to secure a comiplete list of available flora and fauna of economic value. The survey covered No Name Creek, Cave Creek and Lake Creek, the seep at Big Tree, Bigelow lakes, Grayback Ridge, and the area at the confluence of Grayback and Sucker Creeks. In all, approximately 20 miles of trail over about 30 square miles of terrain were traversed in the search for sites, with negative results. The interior of the caves, their mouths, and a large shelter at the man-made exit were also checked.

The region is peripheral to the major population centers of the Takelma, even though it is reputedly a part of the territory claimed by them (Sapir 1907:251-252; Berreman 1937.) It isconcluded that the region was rarely visited although of seasonal utility,

Crater Lake occupies the caldera of former Mt. Mazama, on the divide of Oregon’s Cascade Range. The rim of the caldera is a prominant feature of the High Cascades, and is visible for many miles. Former Mt. Mazama was a volcanic cone of hypersthene basalts that towered over 12,.000 feet before its collapse. The rectangular National Park surrounding the lake has a rough and extremely varied topography, rising from 4100 feet at the south entrance panhandle to 8926 feet at the top of Mi.Scott. Mt. Scott is a parasitic scoria cone on the eastern flank of the former mountain. In addition., the Park contains Union Peak, an old, glacier-eroded shield volcano. Timber Crater, a young unglaciated shield volcano, and numerous scoria cones formed parasitically from vents radiating from Mt. Mazama. Many treeless pumice flats are reminders of the cataclysmic events leading to the collapse of Mazam’s cone. The Park is heavily timbered, aside from the pumice flats, but there is hardly any understory of deciduous trees or brush, except in the southeastern corner where dense stands of ceanothus makes travel difficult. For the most part, the terrine is open and parklike, and ideal camipsites are easily found wherever water is available.

Survey of the National Park was carried out by jeep and on foot. The field party familiarized itself with the Park topography and concentrated upon terrain judged to be most accessible from lowland population centers and most economically productive from the aboriginal point of view. Almost the whole of the northern half of the Park was quickly eliminated from consideration. Though forested for the most part, the dominant tree is the lodgepole pine. There is no understory of shrubs or brush except for manzanita which occurs sparsely on Timber Crater and rocky ridges and outcrops below the rim. Groundcover is very sparse., Red Cone Spring is the only permanent source of water from Bear Creek, north of Mt Scott to the springs and bogs along the western boundary (Map 2). Both Mule Deer, in the eastern section, and Blacktail Deer were seen throughout the area, but less than ten individuals were sighted,, indicating a scarce population.

Search was concentreted in the southern half of the Park, especially in the souftheastern glacially-carved valleys. These valleys were accecessible to the largest lowland populations, the Klamath bands, and appeared to be the most feasible areas in terms of aboriginal economics. In addition, the bluffs and ridges north of Mt. Scott, where numerous suitable rock shelters occur, the ponds, streams and park-like areas around Union Peak, and the springs and bogs along the western boundary were carefully searched. Throughout the survey the party also searched for pre-Mazama exposures which might contain occupational evidence, but without any success.

The survey was critically hampered by the overwhelming evidence of recreational use connected with Park, maintenance and improvement and with recreational activities. Old roads, trails, campsites, telephone lines, quarries, etc., were encountered everywhere. The most frustrating factor was the fact that every suitable campsite examined yielded copious evidence of post-contact use via the presence of tin cans, bottles, and garbage pits.

Two flakes of chlalcedony-veined jasper found near Lightning Spring and an obsidian flake found in the residence area near Park Headquarters were the only evidence of presumably purely Indian use found by the survey party. The two jasper flakes were found associated with the burned remnants of a large stump on the bank- of a small stream fed by the Spring, The locality is on the eastern edge of a pumice flat in ideal hunting country. A series of small, fairly open benches or flats on the steep mountain slopes makes the stalking of deer from above very easy. Test pits, post-hole auger borings, and intensive search of the vicinity failed to turn up any further evidence. The scanty evidence did not warrant giving the locality a site designation.

The obsidian flake was found on the traffic island in the residence area on the western terrace bordering Munsen Creek. Two other artifacts of obsidian have been found in the vicinity, and it is entirely possible the area was a former campsite of the Klamath. Construction and maintenance of the Park Headquarters have completely eradicated any archaeological features that may have been present. The Headquarters area is the most suitable locality in the Park for short term seasonal use. Blacktail deer and rodents are common. Deer could have here, easily stalked, or driven into enclosures or ambushes along the rim. Wild onions and other edible plants occur in the bogs and marshes in Munsen Valley (Wynd 1930: 41-43), and the thin-leaved huckleberry (Vaccinium gembranace)) has its largest stand on the glacial moraine west of Headquarters. The stand of huckleberry is not very dense or extensive, nor are the plants very robust. The other food plants are also scarce. It is obvious that the region would not have yelded vegetal foods in sufficient quantitIes for winter storage. The valley was probably utilized for hunting forays.

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