History of Rim Drive, Crater Lake National Park
Of the three service roads at this site, the oldest connects a utility area or maintenance yard with an administrative plaza situated at an entry point with the Munson Valley Road. This road also extends uphill from the administrative plaza and provides vehicular access to a residential area built with the intention of housing permanent NPS employees during the summer season. At the south end of the maintenance yard is another service road, a one-way loop serving the residential area for temporary NPS employees called “Sleepy Hollow.” Across the Munson Valley Road from Sleepy Hollow is the park’s largest residential complex, “Steel Circle.” The road through it (Route 21) consists of an outer loop where housing units were located and an inner access that allows employees to reach a building used for social functions and gatherings.
Metamorphosis of what the Army Corps of Engineers initially called “Camp 2” began in 1926, when the NPS built a warehouse and incorporated stone masonry in its ground floor walls. This type of construction immediately gained favor over earlier log structures and became the preferred mode of construction as the headquarters development expanded over a wider area over the next seven years. The need to establish a defined circulation system quickly became evident in the wake of largely unconfined vehicular access to the site.
Grading of a service road to connect the new administrative plaza with both the utility and residential areas took place in 1933, with all excavation done by hand to maximize the numbers of men hired on this public works project. With most of the grading completed that fall, laborers began surfacing a portion of the roadway with 4″ of crushed rock obtained from a contractor who used a preexisting quarry located about 5 miles from Park Headquarters. A short construction season dictated that the contract had to be completed in 1934, though subsequent settling under traffic meant surfacing needed water, then be mixed, and re-laid. The NPS let another contract for crushed rock in 1935, so that this material could be integrated with emulsified asphalt and spread roughly 1″ in depth. It was then rolled, and the process repeated twice more before motorists began to use the road surface.
Some rough grading of a service road from the utility area to Sleepy Hollow began in 1933 as part of building the first five cabins there for temporary employees. They appeared on both sides of the road and were joined by three additional structures in 1936. Finish grading, surfacing, and paving took place over the following summer to the same specifications as the service road through the administrative plaza. Lange added two parking areas along the Sleepy Hollow road in 1937 as part of accommodating employees still housed in tents. The parking areas disappeared when the utility area expanded in 1957, an undertaking that included establishing a road connection between it and the new residential area to be built across the Munson Valley Road. Piecemeal removal of cabins in Sleepy Hollow started in 1984 and continued over the next five years so that a new housing area for temporary employees could be constructed on the site in 1990. Contractors realigned the service road as part of the project so that new structures were situated on the inside of a paved access loop.
Grading of the road through the Steel Circle housing area occurred in 1956 as a precursor to building a number of units largely consisting of duplexes with flat roofs. A portion of the site had once been used as a landfill, so the contract included grading the original access road from Rim Drive in addition to creating a main entrance from the Munson Valley Road. The former connection did not last long, due to fears that visitors might unduly disturb residents, so the road in Steel Circle has only one entry point. Contractors surfaced this road in September 1957 so that paving could be completed prior to the end of the construction season.