Captain Franklin Sprague and 20 men are assigned the task of clearing timber and the building of an army supply road from Ft. Klamath to Jacksonville, via Annie Creek Canyon and Union Creek.
Two army hunters from Ft. Klamath, John Corbell and Francis Smith accidentally stumble up Crater Lake.
Captain F. B. Sprague writes a letter to the Oregon Sentinel, in Jacksonville. FT. KLAMATH, Ogn.: It will probably be interesting to the traveling and freighting public to know that the new wagon road, connecting Ft. Klamath with the Rogue River and John Day wagon road, is nearly completed and will be by the 23rd, be ready for teams. Six miles further is White Horse Creek or Soldiers Camp–plenty of water, but no grass near the camp. Within two miles is Castle Camp, which is within half a mile of the summit. At this camp there is plenty of grass and water: the water is, however rather hard to obtain, being in a deep ravine. One mile from Castle Camp just at the foot of the mountain, on the Klamath side, and about one hundred yards to the left of the road, is a fine spring and an elegant camp in every respect. This we named, “Canyon Spring Camp.” Within four miles, Spring Creek is crossed on a bridge, and within half a mile of the bridge, close to the road on the left, is a good spring of water and plenty of grass. Leaving this camp, the road approaches and follows down the banks of Anne Creek, s tributary of Wood River, and along which the traveler will see some of Nature’s most beautiful works. The camp last mentioned is called Dead Wood. Within six miles from Dead Wood is Cold Run Camp, with water a few yards up the ravine, but not much grass.
The distance from Rogue River to the summit of mountain is estimated at sixteen miles, and from the summit to Ft. Klamath at twenty miles, making thirty-six miles. From Jacksonville to the intersection of the Klamath road, the distance measured is sixty-two miles, making the whole distance from Jacksonville to the Fort, ninety-eight miles, only six miles further than by Mt. McLaughlin. From Rogue River to within one hundred yards from the summit of the mountain, the road rises with a gradual elevation of probably ten inches to the rod, with but few rises. The summit is reached by a grade to greater than the hill back of Jacksonville on the Applegate road. The decline on the Klamath side is so gentle that in the dark a man could scarcely tell whether he was going up hill or down. The new road will be a “hard road to travel” for a while, as the ground is very soft, and much of the way the road is cut through dense thickets of small pines. And of course the stumps will be in the way for a some time. There are, however, but a few large stumps in the road and no rocks at all. The soil is pumice stone, and when beaten down will become hard, making a road equal to a macadamized one.
Two miles and a half, in a northeastern direction, from the summit of the mountain is Oregon’s famous lake, about which there is much difference of opinion as there is about “that darkey”. I have not visited the lake yet, but several of my men have, and they vary in their opinions of the distance to the water. One thinks it is not more than two or three hundred feet, while other say it must be six or seven hundred; one thinks the water easily accessible, and another that it cannot be reached. I shall visit it this week and blaze a trail to it from the summit, and give you my impressions of its depth, etc. I have heard of no name being given it except “Hole in the Ground.” It should have a name commensurate with its merits as a curiosity.
Respectfully yours, F.B. Sprague
Lt. O.A. Stern, Capt. Sprague and party “reached the bluff overlooking the lake on the west or southwest side, about 9:00 in the morning of a clear day, and for the first time feasted our eyes upon what we then pronounced the most beautiful and majestic body of water we had ever beheld.” Stearns and Peyton Ford become the first white men to reach the shores of the lake. A pistol shot by Stearns brings down Sprague and civilian Coats. Capt. Sprague suggests the name of “Lake Majesty.” Phantom Ship is discovered by Captain Sprague.
The Oregon Sentinel of Jacksonville reports the visit a week or so earlier of a party of citizens to the “Great Sunken Lake” in the Cascade Mountains. It was reported that “no living man ever has, and probably never will be able to reach the water’s edge.” These visitors fired a rifle several times into the water in an attempt to ascertain the distance from the rim to the water, but evidently did little other exploring. Their group was probably composed of some of the visiting citizens from Jacksonville who had gone out to inspect the progress of the new Forth Klamath-Jacksonville wagon road and to view the lake.
A party of eleven men from Jacksonville, guided by James D. Fay arrived on the west side of the Lake during a hunting trip to Diamond Peak. Here Fay , Herman Helms and Sgt. Orson Stearn find a gentler slope enabling their decent to the water, where they inscribe their names and the date on a nearby rock. Intrigued by the topography of Wizard Island, they resolve to return and bring a boat with which they could reach the island and explore its slopes.
Pole Bridge Creek named when it was hastily bridged by soldiers using Lodge Pole Pine.
Previous to 1865, supplies for Fort Klamath were carried by pack train from Jacksonville, down into Northern California, then north to the fort. Capt.. Sprague was responsible for cutting a road through from Ft. Klamath to Jacksonville, but his crew did no grading. He simply cut the way for wagons, leaving stumps and stones that would pass under the axles. Not one cent was spent on it in the meantime, and in 1886, 21 years later, the Cleetwood party went over it with an expedition bound for Crater Lake and carrying among other things, the Cleetwood, for sounding, on a wagon. (Steel)
Annie Gains, for whom Annie Spring and Annie Creek are named, climbs down to Crater Lake. Miss Gaines, sister-in-law to Major W. F. Rinehart, Fort Klamath commander, was the first white woman to reach the waters of the lake. Mrs. O.T. Brown, who was greater in age, lost the race by a few feet to the 19 year-old girl. (Brown Springs?) The name “Annie” was incorrectly changed to “Anna” soon after the Park was established, and was changed back to “Annie” during the 1930’s. Regardless of the weather or the season, Annie Springs’ flow remains constant, and the temperature of its water is always 35 degrees F. This is the coldest spring in the Park. The Indians called the spring “PALALX”.