The Rustic Landscape of Rim Village, 1927-1941
February 28, 1989
To: Kent Taylor, Chief of Interpretation
From: Steve Mark, Historian
Subject: Origin and Size of Rockwork at Rim Village
The position paper stemming from the meeting of 11/10/87 at PNRO stressed that the exterior design of the proposed interpretive center/hotel at Rim Village should harmonize with the rustic architecture theme already established for Crater Lake National Park. In the 1920s and 1930s, NPS landscape architects incorporated stone masonry as a design element for buildings, retaining walls, walkways, and service facilities at Rim Village and Munson Valley. The evolution of stone masonry as part of rustic architecture in the park is important in understanding what is appropriate for the proposed structure.
The earliest use of stone in structures at Crater Lake was by concessioners. Stone from the area of Garfield Peak was used in the construction of the Crater Lake Lodge. Deficiencies in the original building (particularly with the masonry) are detailed in various reports, such as Haner (1953), Arbogast, et. al. (1982), and BOOR/A (1986). The condition of the masonry in the annexes is in somewhat better condition (Superintendent’s memorandum to the Director, 9/26/84), though some of the mortar is as poor as that used in the original building. The builder of the annexes, F.P. Salter, used stone from a site on the old west rim drive (probably the Watchman) and received some oversight from the NPS.
Salter built two log ranger stations at the east and west entrances to the park in 1917 that Tweed, et. al. (1977, p. 23) say are the earliest NPS buildings that are identifiably rustic. He was also the contractor for the Kiser Studio, built in 1921. Salter suggested the use of stone for the exterior of the structure in 1920 and drew plans accordingly. During the summer that the Kiser Studio was constructed, the NPS built a stone comfort station east of the lodge to service the surrounding tent houses. It followed a design that “makes the new station conform exteriorly to the architecture of the lodge and the studio…” (Director’s Annual Report, 1921).
There is little evidence that the NPS ever planned to extend the type of rockwork present in the Kiser Studio to future construction. In 1926, Thomas Vint was touring the western parks and made development plans for Crater Lake. That year a small warehouse was constructed in Munson Valley, “an attractive building of rough stone walls with [a] second story of rough boards, battened with a shake roof; this is the type of building evolved for use in all future construction here…” (C.J. Thomson, Superintendent, to the Director, 8/31/26). The rough, almost piled stone in the original warehouse building matched that used in the construction of Standard Oil’s rustic gas station in Munson Valley which was built at the same time. (The gas station was demolished in 1958).
Although a prototype had been established, stone masonry varies considerably in buildings constructed at the park between 1927 and 1930. There was some effort to match the type, color, and pattern of rockwork in adjacent buildings in Munson Valley and Rim Village. “Drift” stone, not quarried rock, from various sites in Munson Valley was used to construct the Cottages (buildings #30, #31, #32), comfort station (#36), messhall (#3)*, and meathouse (#13). At Rim Village, the west rim drive area was used to obtain stone for the original portion of the cafeteria, built in 1928. The cafeteria’s larger stone with less cement mortar in evidence contrasts sharply with the masonry of the Kiser Studio and the lodge . A comfort station with rockwork to match that of the cafeteria’s was built in 1930 to service the rental cabins. This building is located behind the cafeteria.