Resources 1984 – VII. Concessionaire Development of Visitor Services A. Crater Lake Company Begins Construction of Lodge

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

VII. Concessionaire Development of Visitor Services

 

A. The Crater Lake Company Begins Construction of Crater Lake Lodge

The Department of Interior’s involvement at Crater Lake at first encompassed only administrative duties. The responsibility for visitor accommodations rested solely with individuals or corporations who ran concessions subject to the control of the department. By 1903 William Steel was trying to organize a public corporation to be known as the “Crater Lake Improvement Association” to build a hotel and make other improvements that would attract visitors to the lake. Steel was unable on his first attempt to get permission from the government to build a hotel in the park because it was felt that the primitive condition of the roads did not warrant construction of a hotel at that time. He was licensed, however, to conduct camping parties from the railroad terminus at Klamath Falls to various tent camps in the park from May 1, 1907, to November 30, 1907. He also maintained permanent camps on sites designated by the superintendent during the 1907 season.

On May 22, 1907, articles of incorporation of the Crater Lake Company were filed with the Oregon secretary of state. The incorporators were Steel, as president and principal owner, Charles L. Parrish, and Lionel Webster. This company acquired the rights granted by the Department of the Interior to Steel to maintain permanent camps in the park. By the end of July 1907 a tent city had been established on the lake rim, accommodating fifty visitors. There people could obtain meals for themselves and feed for their horses. A site for the future hotel of the company was chosen on the rim edge.

By the summer of 1909 Steel had interested Alfred L. Parkhurst of Portland in the construction of a hotel and other improvements at the lake. Parkhurst became president and general manager of the Crater Lake Company and his first action was to pursue erection of a stone lodge on the rim of the lake. Initial plans called for a frame building, but the company later decided on stone: “The building will be 150 feet long, with an immense lounging room with four great stone chimneys, glassed porches, etc., overlooking the lake, and will be ornamental in design.” [1] The building, to be known as Crater Lake Lodge, was planned with a frontage of 140 feet and a central guest hall with four huge fireplaces, plus one on the outside for campfire use. On the north side would be a wide veranda extending to the rim edge. While this structure was under construction, public accommodations were available at Camp Arant, the National Park Service administrative headquarters at Annie Spring, in the form of rows of white tents and eating facilities.

In 1911 work was proceeding slowly on the lodge due to the shortness of the season and difficulties in quarrying the rock for the walls and hauling it by wagon to the rim. Cost of the structure was increasing rapidly from the original $5,000 estimate. A booklet issued by the Crater Lake Company in 1912 described its future rim hotel as containing

a commodious assembly hall, and a dining room of sufficient size to seat 100 guests. There will be massive stone fire-places in both these rooms, and an immense one will be constructed on the outside of the Lodge. . . . A frame building, 30 x 40 feet, is now complete on the rim of the lake. It is equipped as a culinary department, and will be used, pending the completion of the Lodge. First class meals are served in a comfortable dining room, and sleeping accommodations consist of good beds in floored tents. Tents will always be used for sleeping apartments . . . nevertheless the Lodge . . . will have sleeping accommodations with all modern conveniences. . . . [2]

 

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