History of Rim Drive, Crater Lake National Park
NPS and BPR Collaboration on Approach Roads
Route 2 (South Entrance to Annie Spring)
Some minor realignment of the old Fort Klamath Road built by the Army Corps of Engineers began in 1925 over 8 miles of graded surface between the Annie Spring road junction and the south entrance located at “Wildcat.” The most conspicuous change that took place over the summer came at Wildcat, where the NPS erected a massive log entry arch. It stood there until 1932, when the “Annie Creek Extension” or “panhandle” of 973 acres became part of the park, thus adding another 2.3 miles of road between Wildcat and a new south entrance. Improvements begun in 1925 had resulted in widening some fills and shoulders over the 8 miles of highway so that a graded width of 18′ could be achieved. Like the West Entrance Road, this approach boasted a surfaced width of 14′ (where 2″ of bituminous plant mix overtopped a macadam base course of 6″) by 1927.
As traffic through this part of the park increased, however, both the NPS and BPR saw the urgency for a new location survey as the first step toward improving grades and curvature. Winter travel to Crater Lake facilitated by the arrival of snow removal equipment in 1930, also pointed to the need to reduce the maximum grade on this key approach route below 8 percent while also lengthening curves ranging from 50′ to 200′. Lange reported that the L-line survey done by BPR during the mid-1930s called for using about 63 percent of the old road location, with the remainder requiring realignment through new construction. He suggested several improvements, starting with the use of masonry, rather than log, guardrails because the latter type seemed to be more frequently damaged. Lange emphasized how masonry guardrail in combination with stone curb and bituminous walkways could improve the appearance of five extant parking areas, along with selective vista clearing, though he recommended retaining picturesque snags.
Despite NPS hopes for a graded roadway 32′ wide with a surfaced width of 24′, most of the funds for construction went to Rim Drive during the 1930s. Maintenance crews widened a large portion of the road surface to roughly 18′ late in the decade, while park funds paid for a light bituminous mat to be placed on that portion of Route 2 through the panhandle. Other improvements along the road corridor during this period came not at the parking areas, but at Cold Spring, formerly a camping place on the Fort Klamath — Jacksonville wagon route and located several hundred yards from where Pole Bridge Creek crossed the highway. CCC allotments paid for building a modest picnic area and campground there beginning in 1934, with enrollees installing a water system, several latrines, as well as tables and fireplaces, over the next three seasons.
Reconstruction of the South Entrance Road finally took place during the summer of 1963. The typical section featured a 26′ surfaced width with 2″ of asphalt concrete pavement over 10″ of crushed aggregate. This project also included construction of six parking areas lined by bituminous curb and three picnic areas where the old and new roads had their greatest divergence in alignment. The park landscape architect of the time, Paul Fritz, effected one change to the plans prior to actual construction. He wanted a more pronounced curve at the Godfrey Glen Overlook in contrast to the original design, where lengthening the curve would allow traffic to reach speeds in excess of 60 miles per hour through an area where many visitors entered and left the parking area.
Project plans called for eliminating the Cold Spring facilities, partly due to fears about surface water contamination (visitors drank from the spring), but also because the NPS wanted to concentrate overnight use at the much larger Mazama Campground located near the Annie Spring junction. The new picnic areas possessed a greater number of tables and fireplaces than at Cold Spring, though the new facilities were divided among sites called “Lodgepole,” “Annie Creek Falls,” and “Ponderosa.” NPS plans to place interpretive markers in various locations throughout the park during this period resulted in a routed wood sign in the Ponderosa picnic area located near the South Entrance. At roughly the same time a plastic panel was placed on the stone base affixed to a masonry guardrail at the Godfrey Glen Overlook, a vista point located roughly a mile from the Annie Spring junction. This overlook remained the only place along the South Entrance Road to receive a masonry guardrail, mainly due to how it complemented the stone supporting the interpretive panel. Other safety barriers along Route 2 consisted of metal guardrail, with most sections having their ends buried into bank slopes on the road margin.
Funding for the next project on Route 2 came almost three decades later through the Repair, Rehabilitation, and Reconstruction (3-R) program, but in two phases. The first, in 1991, treated 6.5 miles of road south from the Annie Spring junction to a point roughly one mile north of the old entrance at Wildcat. A second phase followed on the remaining highway four years after the first, as part of a contract to rehabilitate the Munson Valley Road (Routes 3 and 4). The initial treatment in each phase consisted of recycling the existing pavement in place, then adding a bituminous surface treatment on top of this mat. A limited amount of road base reconstruction took place in 1991 (over a cumulative distance of roughly a mile) and involved 1′ to 2′ of excavation. This occurred prior to the final treatment, where a hot mix asphalt concrete mat 2″ in depth served as the wearing course.