The Rustic Landscape of Rim Village, 1927-1941
Context and Site Boundaries
Crater Lake National Park is located in the Cascade Mountains of southern Oregon. The park includes more than 183,000 acres of mountains, volcanic peaks, unique and unusual landforms, and a diversity of plant and animal communities surrounding Crater Lake. As the deepest lake in the United States, Crater Lake is the primary natural resource of the park. The lake is 6 miles long, 4-1/2 miles wide and 6176 feet above sea level at the surface. Due to its location in the Cascades, Crater Lake is subject to high volumes of snow and for much of the year, the land surrounding the edge of the lake, including Rim Village, is blanketed with snow.
Rim Village, the focus of this study, is located on the southwest side of the lake, and is one of the primary parking areas but very structured along the rim, where a series of narrow walkways route visitors to the main promenade. The promenade varies between 6 and 8 feet in width and follows the edge of the caldera from a point several hundred feet west of the cafeteria to the head of the Garfield Peak Trail, east of the lodge. Informal paths are located throughout the former campground. Social trails between Rim Village Road and the promenade have had a very negative impact on the vegetation throughout the area.
There are six primary buildings at Rim Village including the Crater Lake Lodge (1909-1922) at the east end of the site, the Kiser Studio (1921), the Sinnott Memorial (1931), the Cafeteria (1928, 1956, 1970s), the Community House (1924), and the Plaza Comfort Station (1938). These buildings remain (with varying degrees of integrity) along with several secondary buildings from the historic period. Other structures, including more than 1450 feet of stone walls and observation bays, also remain from the historic design, although portions and segments of these features are in poor condition or have been altered over the years. The Community House functioned as a gathering place for NPS interpreters and visitors until 1989. The lodge functioned as a hotel until the summer of 1989 when it was closed for structural repairs. The Sinnott Memorial, Cafeteria, and Plaza Comfort Station continue to function as they did historically, providing interpretive and general services to park visitors.
With the notable exception of the large hemlock forest south of Rim Village Road, virtually all of the vegetation at Rim Village was planted between 1930 and 1941. All plant materials at the site are indigenous to the park. Due to the extreme environmental conditions at the rim (an average of only two to three snow-free months a year), and intense trampling by visitors over many years, plant materials between Rim Village Road and the promenade are generally in very poor condition, or in some cases, they have been destroyed altogether. In other areas, such as around the lodge, foundation plantings are remarkably intact, reflecting the original design.
Functionally, Rim Village remains the focal point for visitor services in the park. Food service, hiking trails, interpretive programs, strolling on the promenade, and enjoying the lake views provide visitors with both passive and active recreational opportunities. No other site in the park provides this diverse use in one concentrated place.