Charles McCuller, 19, of Virginia, sets out from Roseburg, telling friends that he plans on hitchhiking to Crater Lake in order to take winter pictures of the Lake. Several people remember seeing him in the Diamond Lake area, but that is the last time anyone sees or hears from McCuller. There is reason to believe that he planed to hike to Crater Lake along The North Road. A heavy snowfall during the previous two weeks dropped over five feet of fresh snow. Cross country skiers report that the snow was so soft and powdery, that even with skis, they were sinking up to their waists. McCuller’s father flies out to Oregon two weeks later and conducts an extensive air and ground search of the northern section of the Park, but no clues as to McCuller’s disappearance are uncovered. (See October 13 & 14, 1976)
A blue Cessna 182, with a Klamath Falls teacher and two of his students on board, is reported lost at 9 p.m. about 35 miles northeast of Klamath Falls. Searchers feel the plane possibly could have gone down over the Park. No wreckage found. (See July 5, 1982)
A new elevation of 6,179.34 feet establishes a new record Lake level. This is 16 feet above the 1942 Lake level.
Master Plan Public Workshops are held in Klamath Falls, Portland and Medford, respectfully. Master Plan issues and alternatives are presented and discussed.
Water samples taken at two sites in the Park show positive Coliform Bacteria count. Chlorine release into the water supply is increased.
Park’s water is retested with one site still showing evidence of Coliform Bacteria present in the water.
All water samples sent in by the Park test negative at the Oregon Health Lab in Portland.
Reconstruction begins on the last 4 miles of the West Entrance road for an estimated cost of $929,000.
Elva Michael, after five years of Park employment, leaves the Park for her home in Corvallis.
Datsun pickup rolls below Rim Village.
A $50,000 remodeling begins on the Lodge kitchen.
June 1 – 23
Park and Concession employees begin reporting in sick. Many people thought it was probably just the annual “Crater Lake Crud” that normally strikes many employees during their first week of arrival. Within three weeks of the first report of employee illness, (except for the Rangers stationed at Annie Spring, and the Lodge owner, Ralph Peyton, who claimed “I never drink water”), 90% of all Park employees come down sick with diarrhea, vomiting, cramps, dehydration and weight loss.
Cliff Stock and Burke Gurney slip on an overhanging snow bank and fall 400 feet inside the caldera at the Watchman Overlook, suffering only minor injuries.
The son of Park Superintendent Richard Sims becomes ill. Doctor feels it is appendicitis.
Sick employees are instructed to “Use Kaopectate” for their “flu”.
With so many Government, Youth Conservation Corps Enrollees and Concession sick, many employees feel that the source of the sickness must be the water. Bruce Stubblefield, YCC director, asks Chief Ranger Jim Wiggins about the water quality. Bruce is told that the water is tested frequently. When Stubblefield suggests contacting the Klamath County Health Department in Klamath Falls, Wiggins tells him that the county has no jurisdiction in the park. All water problems would have to be handled by the U.S. Public Health Service.
Ralph Peyton, president of Crater Lake Lodge Co., calls two private doctors in Klamath Falls and Portland and is told that there is a lot of “flu going around”.
Reports begin to filter in about Park visitors being struck down with a strange illness. Some claim it is Llao’s Revenge. Service station operators complain of soiled restrooms all the way to the California line.
Two YCC leaders meet with the Park’s administration and ask permission to take water samples to the Klamath Health Center. At first the request is granted, and then Chief Wiggins overrules the leaders telling them, “Don’t bother.”
$7,500 contract let to continue corrective work on the Mazama Campground lagoons.
Several young Peregrine falcons are successfully raised in the Park by their parents. The nest is never located.
Waldo Nye, 198 Mill Creek Drive, Prospect, Oregon grandson of Chauncey Nye and grandson-in-law of Superintendent Arant, visits the Park.
Jack Stump, YCC counselor, collects two water samples from the Ranger Dorm and Mess Hall, and along with several fecal samples collected from sick employees, Jack heads for Klamath Falls.
90 employees are known to be sick, which is about 40% of the work force.
Peter von Ohlen, regional engineer, Oregon State Health Division, arrives in the Park to find 6-8 feet of snow covering the watershed area. Peter learns of inadequate training of water system personnel, questionable record keeping and that the runoff melt water from the Rim Village parking lot drains directly into the Park’s watershed at Munson Spring. Because of the heavy snowpack, and inadequate maps, von Ohlen doesn’t realize that the Rim Village sewer line passes directly above Munson Springs, the main source of the Park’s water supply. Von Ohlen leaves the Park, reporting that the employee illness is a form of the “flu”.
Klamath Basin Water and Soil Testing Laboratory reports that the YCC furnished water samples show that “water does not conform with accepted bacteriological standards of purity for drinking water. Fecal coliforms present. Negative for pathogen”.
State health and medical people arrive in the Park to investigate the sudden out-break of so much wide spread illness. An extensive water testing lab is eventually set up in the Administration Building. The Park’s water supply is suspect, but exhaustive testing over the next several days reveals nothing unusual in the water.
Some employees decide to boil their water.
Dr. John Googins, state epidemiologist, and other members of his team meet with Superintendent Sims. Illnesses seem to be declining, part of a regional problem with the “flu” they feel. While checking food services at the Lodge, Lodge President Ralph Peyton challenges the health team’s authority to come onto federal land and clams they are on a “witch hunt.” The team finally leaves the Park in the evening, “puzzled by the information collected” and confused as to whether the State of Oregon has jurisdiction to follow the situation any further, but is convinced that the source of the employee illnesses is most likely the water supply.
Dr. Jeffery Koplan, Palo Alto, California, of the Center for Disease Control of Public Health’s Bureau of Epidemiology arrives in the in the Park. He views the snow covered sewer line area from the Lodge parking lot and sees no evidence of any problems.
YCC leaders meet with Chief of Maintenance, Jeff Adams and Chief Ranger Wiggins and are told that their water samples showing “fecal coliform” were probably not taken properly. YCC Director then shows the results of the water test to Dr. Koplan who says it makes the water suspect and that it should be boiled, but says that he is still undecided as to the method of illness transmission.
Dr. Mark Rosenberg, CDC, Atlanta, arrives in the Park. His reaction to the YCC water report is, “You have been drinking _ _ _ (human waste).
A State Health Division staff nurse who had just returned from a bus tour of Crater Lake calls Dr. Googins to say that 14 out of 15 people on the bus tour, which had visited Crater Lake on July 4, are sick. This call establishes the incubation period of the illness – 36 to 48 hours.
Dr. Koplan is notified that individuals on the serving line in the Cafeteria have been observed taking Kaopectate so that they can continue working.
Notices are being handed out to Park visitors at both entrance stations warning them that the Park’s water might be contaminated and that they should first boil or treat the water with iodine before using. The notice is signed by Superintendent Sims. Signs with the same wording are posted at all Park facilities, campgrounds, the Lodge and over all drinking fountains.
TO ALL VISITORS
OVER THE PAST SEVERAL WEEKS THERE HAS BEEN AN OUTBREAK OF GASTOENTERITIS IN CRATER LAKE NATIONAL PARK. THIS ILLNESS IS CHARACTERIZED BY DIARRHEA, ABDOMINAL CRAMPS, NAUSEA, VOMITING, AND CHILLS. IT CAN LAST ANYWHERE FROM A FEW HOURS TO SEVERAL DAYS. IT IS UNCLEAR HOW THIS ILLNESS IS CONTRACTED OR HOW IT IS SPREAD. WE HAVE PROFESSIONAL U.S. PUBLIC HEALTH PERSONNEL ACTIVELY WORKING ON THIS PROBLEM NOW.
WHILE USING THE PARK FACILITIES, WE RECOMMEND USING NO WATER FOR DRINKING, FOR FOOD PREPARATION, OR TOOTH BRUSHING THAT HASN’T BEE PREBOILED OR TREATED WITH IODINE OR CHLORINE TABLETS. WATER MAY NOT BE A FACTOR IN CONTRACTING THE ILLNESS, BUT WE FEEL THIS PRECAUTION IS IMPORTANT AT THIS POINT.
WE HOPE TO CORRECT THIS SITUATION AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE.
THANK YOU, RICHARD H. SIMS, SUPERINTENDENT CRATER LAKE NATIONAL PARK
Willard Titus, Oregon Health sanitarian, checks the Park’s water system’s pressure and chlorine. Titus discovers that the water to Munson Valley is not being chlorinated.
Ms.. Gena Wright, supervising sanitarian, checks the food service areas of the Lodgeand Cafeteria and notices that some of the workers are ill. The medical team suggests closing down the food service, but Dr. Koplan asks for another 24 hours since the method of transmission has not yet been determined. Dr. Koplan asks for more help and Dr. Googins sends three additional staff members.
After phoning Headquarters and applying pressure, Superintendent Sims allows Lodge President Peyton to replace the Health Service signs with one of their own. The Lodgecompany posts signs above all Rim Village drinking fountains reading, “THIS WATER HAS BEEN ADEQUATELY CHLORINATED AND IS TESTED DAILY BY THE U.S. PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE.” Seasonal patrol rangers are dispatched to remove all Public Health Service warning signs. The rangers complete their job around midnight, after several nasty confrontations with Mr. Peyton. Peyton wants to know what all the excitement is all about, “After all, nobody has died yet.”