History of Rim Drive, Crater Lake National Park
Construction of Rim Drive
Segment 7-B (Diamond Lake Junction to Grotto Cove)
Pre-advertising for bids on grading the stretch of road from the Diamond Lake (North) Junction to the point half a mile past Wineglass took place in the fall of 1932. Insufficient funding prevented letting a contract until September of the following year, at which time the award went to the firm of Von der Hellen and Pierson of Medford. The contractors went to work in October 1933, but BPR suspended the job upon the first snowfall several weeks later. In contrast to what NPS crews accomplished prior to the contract award in segment 7-A, the clearing and grubbing of 7-B became the contractor’s responsibility. They moved ahead on the basis of plans calling for a roadway of 22′ with a ditch 3′ wide. Another contract had to be let, this time to Dunn and Baker of Klamath Falls, in order to widen the roadway another 2′. This change was the result of a visit to the park by Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes in July 1934.
Much of the work performed on the first grading contract in 7-B took place during the long summer season of 1934. Von der Hellen and Pierson set up camp near the Wineglass at a secluded spot where water could be pumped from the lake some 650′ below them. In contrast to grading segment 7-A, the grading contract for 7-B required comparatively little blasting and hauling of rock. The contractors could thus use caterpillar tractors and scrapers in handling the pumice material. They had some assistance from the final located line that called for five tangents of various lengths, but with several rock cuts required as part of preventing overly heavy curvature in the alignment. Doerner gave Von der Hellen and Pierson high marks for not scattering stumps beyond the clearing limits (or “right of way”) when blasting stumps, despite the road being characteristically close to the rim in many places. He also commented on the care taken with dumping rock at the ends of deep fills so that deep trenches at the bottom of fill slopes might catch debris from rolling any further. The contractors then used plenty of soil to completely cover the rock at the bottom of such fills.
Subsequent widening of the roadway began in September 1934, but Dunn and Baker found it impossible to take the same protective measures. In many places crews brought the rock back up slope by hand after it damaged trees. The road widening meant that Von der Hellen and Pierson could disregard some of the required bank sloping and shoulder rounding. Similar to the previous grading contract for 7-A, however, these contractors still had responsibility for other kinds of landscape work. Doerner reported that the masonry retaining walls and culvert headwalls in 7-B displayed good workmanship during the long season of 1934, though completion of these items did not come until the following summer.
Most of the old road obliteration in 7-B came in 1935, when Von der Hellen and Pierson hired a landscape foreman under Lange’s supervision. As resident landscape architect for the NPS, Lange saw an obliteration program to be “of immediate value to the natural appearance of new road construction” because it went beyond planting the ends of old road segments as was done during the grading of 7-A. With a crew of four to ten men, the landscape foreman planted approximately 100 whitebark pine and fifty lodgepole pine over 1.2 miles of old roadbed in 1935. The difficult growing conditions meant that some 75 cubic yards of soil covering was used in conjunction with a scheme that included spreading duff and small branches so as to eventually produce a “uniform” line of planting “unnoticeable to all but those accustomed to the old road location.” Lange took a number of photographs to show the effectiveness and appearance of such efforts, as part of his plan to obliterate 10 miles of old road. He estimated this multi-year project needed roughly 5,000 trees as well as 2,000 loads of soil, and required the services of two or three foremen and twenty laborers.
Grading and widening the roadway also necessitated what Lange called “special planting” aimed at large slopes exposed by construction. The foreman and his crew treated two sections of 7-B in 1935, with the first located near the Wineglass road camp where they treated a cut slope with some trees and dark soil so as to diminish the intensity of the vivid red color seen from Cloudcap. Work began by digging parallel trenches filled with mountain hemlock branches to hold the “new soil” and aid establishment of trees transplanted at the site. This procedure was also used to conceal a white line created by grading near Steel Point that could be seen from the Crater Lake Lodge.
Production of surfacing material for 7-B started even before the successful bidder, A. Milne of Portland, began opening a quarry near the Wineglass road camp in September 1935. The contractor set up a crushing plant there, an operation that Lange described as well screened from the road. It could produce a relatively large amount of material at 1,500 tons per day when running at capacity during the short working season. Once the plant at the Wineglass road camp produced sufficient quantities for both 7-B and 7-C, virtually all of the actual surfacing with crushed rock took place in 1936. With the paving of those road segments not due until 1938, BPR advised the NPS that maintenance crews should apply a light oil treatment in the interim to prevent loss of the soft rock quarried and processed for surfacing material at the road camp.
Milne’s subcontractor for the masonry guardrails made good progress in only two months on the job in 1935, completing almost half of the stipulated 450 lineal yards in segment 7-B. Lange seemed pleased with the pace at which work on the guardrails proceeded, but he commented that the first sections of wall built where the road first touched the rim east of Llao Rock were not entirely satisfactory. Within a short time, however, he remarked about how this item became “exceedingly well done” and included photographs in his annual report of some representative guardrails from this road segment.
Failure to provide such barriers, especially where the road ran close to a precipice concerned Lange, though he did not cast blame for the oversight. He instead called for the NPS or BPR to provide some rule for such areas in future contracts, whether the remedy lay in masonry wall or partially buried logs in combination with seated boulders. Since funds for additional masonry guardrail seemed out of the question, logs treated with creosote of varying lengths were placed to line road margins where the danger appeared to be the most acute. Lange preferred logs to alternate with boulders and produced a drawing to that effect, but the BPR district engineer did not believe that estimates in the existing advertised contract allowed for the cost of gathering and placing boulders. Lange nevertheless wanted spaces left between the logs in order to allow for the future introduction of boulders as part of a subsequent contract, so the installation of these barriers proceeded accordingly in 1936. Logs were also used to define islands in what Lange called “traffic control areas” at road junctions. The surfacing contract provided for treating the Diamond Lake Junction with partially buried logs having chamfered ends and some planting once fine grading of the site had been completed as part of the surfacing contract.