Crater Lake is peripheral to regions having long culture chronologies. Cressman (1956:460) has summed up the evidence for antiquity of occupation. His sumation is best, quoted in full with bracketed interpolations of recently obtained dates where pertinent.
… To the north on the Deschutes River, artifacts come from well below the Mount Mazama (Crater Lake) pumice giving a date well before 6,500 years ago. Recent work on the Deschutes near Madras has provided a minimum date of 6,000 B. C. for the initial occupation of the Desenutes-Metolius-Crooked river drainage (1-806, 7990 220 BP, Ross 1963: 59′) At the east end of Odell Lake, some thirty miles further south near the summit of the Cascade Range, an occupation site extends some eighteen inches deep into the glacial till underlying the Mount Mazara pumice. At Fort Rock, northeast of the Klamath Lake Basin, sandals have a date of just over 9,000 years ago. In the Surper Lake caves five miles out from Paisley ocupation occurs under Mount Mazama pumice and considerably earlier where it is associated in the latter case with the bones of Equus, camel, bison, and other animals. Same sixty miles south of Klamath Lake, in the bed of Lower Klamath lake, artifacts are associated with the bones of Ecuus, camel, and probably mammoth. Our work in The Dalles dam reservoir on the Colmbia River during 1953-54 has indicated human occupation of that area at the end of the Pleistocene, an estimate made on the best geological evidence so far available … magaitudinal date for the Early Period at The Dalles shows that occupation was certainly established 10,000 years ago (Cressman 1960:6M. [Daugherty has reported a site in southeastern Washington dated at over 9.000 years …., while Cressman and Laughlin (1941), and Cressman (19475), have published on a probable early association of man with mammoth in the Willamette Valley. Thus, on all sides except the rugged area of the Cascade Range to the immediate west there is evidence of human occupation of a considerable antiquity.
The only archaeological excavation to the west of Crater lake was done on the Rogue River near Gold Hill early in the history of archaeological investigations in Oregon, and before the significant advances in radiocarbon dating techniques were perfected. The observation that the associated implements, burial goods and features recovered from Gold Hill indicate a close northwest California culture affiliation permits the assumption that the Gold Hill materials are of protohistoric age (Gressman 1933)0 The Chetco materials from the southern coast of Oregon are of equal age, or perhaps the deepest levels are somewhat older (Berreman 1944) A human skeleton was found in the pumic deposits south of Prospect Oregon, (Williams 1942: Fig 16) during construction of the Mediord-Bend Highway (Cressman (1940b:301) writes that the position of the skeleton, with “no order to the bones,” and its depth in the pumice, 6 feet, argues against aboriginal burial. The bones were in an excellent state of preservation, but no mention was made of charring, if the individual were overwhelmed by the avalanche. If the skeleton were that of an individual caught by the avalanche, then it attests the presence of people in the Rogue River Valley 6,500 years ago (see page 18) A date of 1500 A.D for initial occupation of the Irongate site on the Klamath River just south of the Oregon-California border is projected from an average date of 455±75 B.P; (Leonhardy 1961:47) Four sequential culture components were distinguished by archaeological investigations of sites in the Lava Beds National Monument (Schwartz 1963). The two oldest components, 1 and 11, are placed in Cressman’s Laird’s Bay Phase which terminated at about the beginning of the Christian era (Gressman 1942:102). The next component, 111, is equated with the Lower Klamath Lake protobhistoric period; radiocarbon runs on a house beam gives a date of A. D. 803+160 is held to be too early for this component by Schwartz (1963: 109). The final component encompasses the post-contact period.