Watchman – 03 Natural Systems And Features

National Park Service Cultural Landscapes Inventory: The Watchman, Crater Lake National Park, 2001

Analysis And Evaluation


Landscape Characteristics And Features

Natural Systems And Features

Watchman Peak (8013’), the surface of Crater Lake (6176’), its caldera, Wizard Island (6940’), Crater Lake’s climate and surrounding forests are the natural systems and features that influenced the siting and design of Watchman Observation Station and Watchman Trail during the period of significance. Even prior to the historic period, before the creation of Crater Lake National Park, Watchman Peak was utilized as a lookout because of its elevation and proximity to the lake (Greene 1984, 305).

Watchman Peak, comprised of a massive volcanic flow of andesite two-fifths of a mile wide and one quarter mile high (Unrau 1988 ) was valued by Crater Lake planners during the 1920s as a superior location that could be built upon, while Watchman Peak’s base (7600’), located along Crater Lake’s caldera, was conveniently accessible via Rim Drive. As a fire lookout, Watchman Observation Station’s location on the peak was ideal for prompt detection of forest fires. Fire lookouts such as Watchman Observation Station were sited on “heights overlooking a great expanse of a dangerous area” (Greene 1984, 247).

Watchman Trail up Watchman Peak was also aligned for interpretive purposes. Meandering through the Sub Alpine Vegetation Zone dominated by Whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis) and Penstemon spp., the trail provided park visitors with intimate displays of geology and vegetation. Crater Lake’s climate, characterized by cold winters and dry hot summers endow Watchman Peak’s open and rocky appearance (Davis 1973).

In present day, the natural systems and features at Watchman’s cultural landscape remain present and continue to contribute to the historic character of Watchman Observation Station and Watchman Trail.

Contemporary photograph showing Mountain hemlock on Watchman Trail (CCSO 2001).


Contemporary photograph showing geological features located along Watchman Trail (CCSO 2001).


Contemporary photograph showing north side of Watchman Peak 8013′ (CCSO 2001).


Contemporary photograph, view east, showing Wizard Island (6940′), Crater Lake (6176′), and the Crater Lake caldera (CCSO 2002).


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