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When Horses Worked at Crater Lake – Photos by Lloyd Smith 1970s and 80s

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Ranger Marion Jack leased the horses to the park. He must have done this for 15-20 years though the 1970s and 80s. The horses were kept at the park during the summer at the corral in Sleepy Hollow. They wintered in the Medford area. We would ride the horses from the barn to the Rim each morning they were on duty on the old CCC Trail behind Headquarters. It was probably one of the best duties in the park to be a mounted ranger.

People would come from all over to pet and to look at the horses. They would ask, “How do I get a job like this”? I truly felt special, I was a lucky guy. Everybody wanted my job. The kids’ eyes would just light up and run over when they saw the horses.

The horses were used mainly on the Rim as PR and to be able to observe the park visitors. The big problem was we had to clean up after the horses. So, in uniform, with a shovel and plastic bag, we would start shoveling. We had a special area near the cafeteria where we stashed the bag and the shovel. The horses were used by the interpretative staff for some great living history programs, like the first explorers to find the lake, as in John Wesley Hillman. The horses were used to patrol the boundary areas during hunting season. The horses also were used for search and rescue.

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