Smith Brothers 1869

July 27
The Jim Sutton party of Jacksonville brings the first wagon nearly to the Rim of the lake after blazing a four and a half mile trail. (Great Great Granddaughter, Jackie Wobbe reports that Capt. Sutton was eventually buried in the Parnkey Cemetery on Ramsey Road, near Medford.)

August 5
J.B. Coats, James Fay, David Linn, James Sutton and Lt. Thoburn set out on the lake in a canvas boat. This is probably the first boat on the lake. The party estimates the Lake to be 1,500 to 2,000 feet deep after taking two soundings down to 550 feet. (The length of their rope.) Crater Lake is named by James M. Sutton. At one time the prosaic name of “Hole in the Ground” was in use, but was fortunately abandoned. The Indian name for the lake was Glowy’s or Gaywas. The Sutton party attempted to circumnavigate the lake, and sound it, but due to the fragile nature of the boat and a strong wind, they were forced to forego the attempt. One sounding was made a half mile from the island. Mr. Linn built the boat, which was scow-shaped, 16 feet long and 3.5 feet wide, at his planning mill in Jacksonville, but did not put it together until reaching the Rim of Crater Lake.

The morning of the day that they made their voyage on the Lake, the men carried the boards down the rugged precipice leading to the water as there was no marked out trail. Several times, being encumbered with the boards, they were in imminent danger of losing their footing and plunging down into the Lake.

August 7
THE OREGON SENTINEL, Saturday: We learn that a party of pleasure seekers from Rogue River Valley are now at Lake Majesty, cruising upon its blue and placid water in a boat built in Jacksonville. At it is reported that the party is partly composed of young ladies, you may well imagine that the desire to see and explore Lake Majesty has become intense.

August 21
THE OREGON SENTINEL, Saturday: TRIP TO CRATER (sic) LAKE, To the Editor Sentinel: In response to your request, I will endeavor to furnish you a brief sketch of our late tour to the source of Rogue River, and Fort Klamath.

On the 27th of July, memorable as the day of the great freshet in Jacksonville, our party, consisting of David Linn, wife and five children, Jas. D. Fay, Miss Anna Fay, Miss Hannah Ralls, J.B. Coasts, Capt. J.M. Sutton, wife and one child, started on an exploring and recuperating expedition to Crater Lake and other points of interest in its vicinity. The thermometer stood at 96 in the shade and atmosphere was unusually sultry…From our first camping point we witnessed in the distance the terrific storm which was devastating Jacksonville and terrifying its inhabitants. We could see the dark and terrible cloud which hung over our devoted town, pouring forth stream after stream of lurid lightning and heavy peals of thunder which was startling, even at our safe distance…

From this point the road was made through thick timber and over a soft pumice stone soil, and consequently the road has been beaten down from eighteen to twenty inches, leaving some hundreds of stumps to the mile, too high for our duck legged wagon to pass over. It was these stumps that the peculiar virtues of our baggage master shone forth though the clouds of dust which surrounded him and his favorite wagon….

On the 31st we traveled all day over a very good but stumpy road. During the day we passed through vast forest of dead timber, which had been killed by fire. Among this dead timber in many places the ground was covered with a low whortleberry of the most delicious kind. We also passed many small brooks and springs in which the water stood at 40 degrees, F, just 8 degrees above freezing, while Jacksonville water stands at sixty…

We camped one mile from the summit of the Cascade Mountains and two and half miles from Crater Lake at a place known as Sprague’s dug-away. At this place a trail has been graded down the precipitous banks of Crack Creek sufficient to pass men and horse. On the next day (August 1), the order of the day was to find a “north-west passage” to Crater Lake whereby we could take our wagons and boat. We started out early in the morning, a party of self constituted road viewers. After nearly the whole day spent, we succeeded in finding a good route for a wagon road and moved our camp about one half mile Lakewards where we found excellent grass and water. On the next day we cut out the road to the Lake, returned and moved camp to within half a mile of that point and in time to haul our boat to the brink of its destination. On the 3rd we took our families in the wagons and soon arrived at the long wished for point. On alighting from the wagons and reaching the brink, the first exclamation of the ladies was, “look out for the children! Come back Jimmy! Come back Peter.”

In approaching the lake from whatever direction, we had to ascend a mountain; it being located on a high point of the dividing ridge of the Cascade mountains. From the south we gradually ascended the mountain through heavy open timber, principally hemlock and spruce, until within two hundred yards of the lake, when we passed out of the timber into a fine grassy lawn mottled with sealberry and other lowering shrubs peculiar to high regions. Passing up this lawn, which was a little more precipitous than before, we arrived at the brink of the Lake which was beautifully skirted with timber at intervals, all around its circumference, To say that this wonderful lake is grand, beyond description, is to give an idea of its magnificence. Everyone gazes at it for the first time in almost tearful astonishment. Elevated 4,200 feet above the sea we could skim the tops of the vast piles of mountains in every direction which almost a quarter of a mile beneath our feet reposed the placid lake. From the best estimates we could make, the lake is about six and a half miles from east to west and five and a half from north to south and nearly oval in shape. It is entirely surrounded by walls of light colored basalt, scoria, and almost every conceivable variety of volcanic productions. Near the west end rises a cone like island about a mile in diameter at the base and about seven hundred feet in height. This island is about two miles from the shore where we stood and a half mile from the west end of the lake.

Each man now shouldered up a portion of our boat material, and after a few timid glances down the fearful incline, started boldly over the loose, crumbling bank, starting bevies of loose boulders at every step, at the imminent danger of anyone who dared venture ahead of the party. We succeeded in getting our boat to the water and afloat before night. I had forgotten to state that one lady accompanied down on this occasion, arriving at the bottom with her shoes torn entirely from her feet on the sharp rocks. On getting ready to return, she made the following address to the lake. “O, thou horrid puddle! Like a great spider, thou has hid thyself down in this miserable hole to catch butterflies. Before I entered thy face, you looked smooth and the distance short, but I found the road long, and nothing but roughness and danger, and now thou art rolling great waves at my feet! I know not whither I shall escape these villainous walls, but I promise you that if again safe at the top, I will never more trouble you with my presence; In sincerity of which I now make unto you this peace offering!” So saying, she cast her dilapidated shoes in the troubled water, and returned barefoot, through tribulation and boulders, to the top. As there was no water for our horses, and only snow for ourselves, we returned to your last camp, for the night. During the day we were joined by Lt. S.B. Thornburn, U.S.A from Fort Klamath, Col. Ross and H.P. Duseans and lady.

DOWN TO THE LAKE Arriving at the lake, speedy preparation was made to go down to the water. Lieut. Thorborn, Col. Ross, David Linn, J.B. Coasts, James D. Fay, J.M. Sutton, Miss Anna Fay, Mrs. Linn and Mrs. Sutton make the decent. After the ladies had went out in the boat a few hundred yards and returned, five of us started for the island, two miles distant. One hour’s hard rowing against a heavy wind, brought us to the island; forty five minutes more took us to the top of the Island, where we proclaimed it to the winds that on the 4th day of August, 1869, we, David Linn, J.D. Fay, Lieut. S.B. Thorborn, J.B. Coats and J.M. Sutton landed on the CREATER (sic) Lake Island, and then and there claimed to be the first human beings that ever set foot on its soil. This Island is but a loose pile of cinders and pumice stone, crumbling down at the very touch. Around the basin-like crater is large piles of scoria ready to tumble down with the least exertion, and many, indeed, were the tons of this rock that we started down the precipitous sides of the Island. The rim around the crater is some five hundred yards in circumference and on hundred feet deep, in the bottom of which remains a bank of snow. We left a bottle on the south side of the crater, sheltered beneath a ledge of lava, containing the names of all our party. Any one curious to find it, near some blazes made with a knife on the limbs of some small trees hard by. We returned to the lake and found the wind blowing almost a gale, and coming from every point of the compass every five minutes. We arrived safely on shore, drew our boat above high water mark, which by the way, is only about four feet, left with it a bucket of tar and four or five pounds of nails for repairing purposes, and then started on our weary way to the top, a distance of half a mile at an angle steeper than forty-five degrees. On arriving at the top, we heard the story of how the ladies got back, how the Col. climbed a rope, and many other male, and female adventures. Through the politeness of Mr. Peter Britt, I was prepared to take photographs of the lake, but owing to the smoke in the atmosphere I did not succeed. We were soon underway to our camp, well repaid for all our pains, and proud of our store of adventures.

October 28
The JACKSONVILLE SENTINEL reports that several citizens recently returned from visiting the great sunken lake. The walls of the lake are almost perpendicular. The depth of the water is unknown. Its surface is smooth and unruffled. It lies so far below the surface of the mountain that air currents do not affect it. Its length is 12 miles, and breadth is 10 miles. No living man has or probably in the future will be able to reach the water’s edge. It lies silent, still and mysterious in the bosom of the “everlasting hills”, like a huge well scooped by the hands of the giant genie of the mountains in ages gone by. These facts seem incredible, but they are vouched by some of the most responsible citizens. The lake is certainly a most remarkable curiosity.


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