Resources 1984 – E. James Sutton Party

Historic Resource Study, Crater Lake National Park, Oregon, 1984

III. Discovery of Crater Lake

E. James Sutton Party

The lake did not acquire its present name until visited by a party from Jacksonville in July 1869. Headed by James M. Sutton, then in charge of the Oregon Sentinel, the party consisted of J.B. Coats, James D. Fay, Miss Annie Fay, David Linn and family, Miss Fannie Rails, the James Sutton family, Mrs. Catherine Shook, and John Sutton. Leaving town on July 27, the group proceeded along the Rogue River road to its junction with the Fort Klamath road, at which point the wagons turned east toward the lake, blazing a road nearly to the rim. Here they were joined by Colonel J.E. Ross, Lieutenant S.B. Thoburn, and a Mr. Ish from Fort Klamath.

Sections of a canvas and wood boat had been brought in one of the wagons and were soon assembled and lowered carefully over the rocks to the water. On August 4 Coats, James Fay, David Linn, James Sutton, and Lieutenant Thoburn set out on a perilous voyage to Wizard Island, in the first boat navigated by white men on Crater Lake. Considered to be the first human beings to set foot on the island, they climbed up to the crater where they left a record of their visit in a tin can cached in rocks at the summit. The boat was left at the lake on their departure from the area about ten days later, having proven too frail to circumnavigate and sound the entire lake. One sounding was taken, however, 550 feet deep half a mile from the island, and from the slope of the floor indicated at this point, the men estimated the lake to be from 1,500 to 2,000 feet at the deepest part, remarkably close to the actual depth of 1,932 feet. The men renamed this geologic wonder “Crater Lake” because of the crater discovered in the top of Wizard Island. Upon their return home, Sutton published a graphic account of the trip in the August 21 and 28, 1869, editions of the Oregon Sentinel. Here the appellation “Crater Lake” appears in print for the first time. [19]


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