Smith Brothers 1996

170 inches of snowfalls in 17 days. Downs thousands of trees throughout the region. West Entrance road is closed from Union Creek.

Jan – Feb
14 feet of snow in 17 days.

January 6
Crater Lake reopens for business following a three-week shut down because of a Federal budget shutdown.

February 7
Crater Lake Highway 6,. between Union Creek and Annie Spring, opens after being closed for three weeks due to thousands of blown down trees.

July 29
The Bybee Fire, near the base of the Watchman, burns 62 acres after being allowed to burn as a natural prescription burn. As it approached Rim Drive, 50 fire fighters were brought in for several weeks, along with a helicopter. Costs associated with the fire fighting effort climbed to the neighborhood of $15,000 to $20,000.

Launch tours are carrying 500 passengers a day with 7 – 10 boat trips per day.

The Park Service releases its Environmental Impact Statements for the restoration and redevelopment of the Cleetwood Cove Trail and boating facilities. The dock and ticket booth are old and need replacement or repair. Retaining walls along the trail are in similar condition according to the MT.

August 10
21th annual running of the Crater Lake Rim Run. (108 Marathon runners, 133 thirteen mile runners & 199 runners for the 6.7 run.) A very hot day. Martin Balding of Susanville, CA runs his 17th CL Run and places second in the marathon distance. Penny Lancaster of Neenah, Wisc. runs her 25th marathon and her first CL Run. Runners entered from four countries and 26 states. 25 runners over 60, with Paul Conner of Klamath Falls the oldest at 73.

Men:  6.7  Ryan Pauling, of Tacoma, Wash.  36:06
13.0 Ted Pawlik, 40, of Albany, OR  1:25.58 (fourth CL run)
26.2 Erich Reed, 28, of Eugene, OR  3:03.22 (Reed’s first ever marathon)
Women:  6.7 Rykka Wienert, of Corvallis, OR  42:18
13.0 Myra Klettke, of Beaverton, OR  1:30.02
26.2 Karen Rayle, 24, teacher in Beijing, China 3:24.13 (new women’s record)

August 13
A 13-member search-and-rescue team spend the night looking for two teens stranded below Hilman and Watchman. Brain Conion and Jason Raver of Eugene, both 17, had one shirt between them and both were dressed in shorts. The team plucked them from the crater wall the next morning. One of the boys’ mother unsuccessfully tried to stop the illegal hike.

August 17
Wedding held at Cloud Cap. A windy, smoke filled day.

The Park buys its first real fire truck at a cost of $285,000. The purchase elates the Chief Ranger.

Construction begins on a $7.5 million, 35,000 square foot Lodge employee dorm to be located across the South road from Mazama Campground, near the sewer lagoons. Will be built in three units. Since the Park wants to maintain control over the building, the dorm is being financed with Federal money. Will be completed in 1998.

Proposal made for a $250,000 rehab and restoration of the Watchman Fire Lookout.

The proposed total Rim Development with day lodge, visitor center, parking garage and overnight accommodations declared dead, or at least “30 years distant.” The costs had ballooned to $64 million. A more modest plan is proposed to rehabilitate the Sinnott Overlook, the Kaiser Studio and the Stone Comfort Station. The wooden 1921 Community Building is slated to be torn down because of having “no significant historic or cultural value.”

September 11
Lodge employee, Kristen Gehling, 20, falls to her death on Mt. Thielsen. An Oregon National Guard helicopter flew in from Salem with special night-vision goggles and located the body at 2:55 a.m. in hazardous terrain and held off moving Gehling until after daylight.

Park purchases a new Kodiak snowplow at a cost of $325,000. The Chief of Maintenance is elated.

A recent survey reveals that poachers annually comb the flanks of Crater Lake for matsutake mushrooms that can bring as much as $100 a pound.

Fiscal Year 1996
ONPS Budget set at: $3.3 million. The first time the Park’s operating budget has topped $3 million..

Season Visitation: 526,557

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