Lady of the Woods Rock Sculpture

Lady of the Woods – Crater Lake National Park


Lady of the Woods, Crater Lake National Park, photo by Robert Mutch

Winter can last for more than seven months at Park Headquarters. A sign of the coming of spring appears when enough snow has melted to reveal a figure known as the Lady of the Woods. When the snow finally disappears, which is usually in June or July, visitors can take a short trail located behind the Steel Information Center to view the three foot high sculpture.

Chiseled from a boulder, this unfinished work of art blends almost perfectly into a subalpine forest of mountain hemlock. It will be 80 years old this October and shows a few signs of age. The most noticeable is pitting in the once smooth volcanic rock, but there are also some details that have begun to fade with time. In spite of its inevitable decay, the sculpture is still striking and should remain recognizable well into the next century.

Oddly enough, the Lady of the Woods was its creator’s first attempt at sculpture. At the time of its carving, Earl Russell Bush was a 31 year old medical doctor who attended to the road crews that built the first rim drive around Crater Lake. The season’s work had largely ceased by the end of September 1917, and he found himself with almost two weeks at his disposal…..continue reading…. An Offering in the Forest, Nature Notes From Crater Lake, by Steve Mark, Vol. 28, 1997.

The lasting values of Dr. Bush’s association with the park rest in the “Lady of the Woods.” The true essence of its significance, and the best expression of the attitude with which it should be viewed, seem to me to be most simply and clearly put in Dr. Bush’s own words. Perhaps you will keep them in mind when you come upon this symbol of the inspiration which one man found within the wilderness:

“This statue represents my offering to the forest, my interpretation of its awful stillness and repose, its beauty, fascination, and unseen life. A deep love of this virgin wilderness has fastened itself upon me and remains today. It seemed that I must leave something behind …. if it arouses thought in those who see it, I shall be amply repaid. I shall be satisfied to leave my feeble attempt at sculptural expression alone and unmarked, for those who may happen to see it and who may find food for thought along the lines it arouses in them individually. It would be sacrilege to assign a title and decorate it with a brass plate.” (Monroe, 1922).

(Biographical note: Dr. Earl Russell Bush, born in 1886, received his M. D. degree from the Indiana University School of Medicine in 1909. He practiced medicine in Indianapolis, Indiana, for a few years prior to World War I. After that war, during which he served as a member of the Medical Corps, he reentered government service, becoming Regional Medical Officer, U. S. Veterans’ Bureau, Cincinnati, Ohio. In January, 1930, he became Associate Medical Director, Western and Southern Life Insurance Company.




Lady of the Woods, Crater Lake National Park, photo by Robert Mutch

lady-woods1photo by Robert Mutch

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