Crater Lake National Park Centennial Oral Histories
Ken Miller, 1964-1965
Here are a few reminisces of my two years at Crater Lake
I was a member of the Boat Crew in 1964 and ran the crew in 1965. There were four or five of us in those days. We ran 4 trips to and from Wizard Island and made two trips around the lake every day. We often had so many tourists show up that we ran two boats around the lake, one with a park naturalist and one with the boat operator giving the commentary. The adult fare to Wizard Island was $2.50 and the lake tour was $3.50 (half price for children 12 and younger).
In 1964 there were two big accomplishments made by the crew and a few other workers. One of those accomplishments was to launch a boat, the Fisher. It was lowered into the lake from near the lodge by sliding it down on the snow pack. It was a small open launch that was notoriously difficult to handle. It had a very shallow draft and tended to slide sideways quite easily. The other major accomplishment was to build a boat house for the Fisher. Building materials were pushed from an area just west of the lodge down a snow pack into the lake. These were huge bundles of wood and many broke apart before they landed in the lake. Once in the water, we towed them to Wizard Island to build the structure. The steel rails used for the drag cart in the boathouse were carried down the trail by the boat crew. They were pretty heavy.
In 64 and 65 there were three boats on the lake: the previously mentioned Fisher, the Sparrow and the Min. The Sparrow and the Min were big, open launches which would seat about thirty people. They were powered by Chrysler 6-cylinder marine engines. These engines had replaced the original engines which were made by Hudson. The old Hudson blocks rested a few hundred feet from the lodge toward the Garfield Peak trail.
Of the two large boats, the Min was the best. It was easy to handle and would move amazingly fast. The Sparrow had a curved stern and that made it a bit harder to dock. Life jackets were stored under the seats of these boats. Fuel was dumped from the rim at a location about a mile from the Cleetwood Cove trail. We carried two 55-gallon drums in the back of the Boat Crew pickup truck and when fuel was needed we dumped the drums into a plastic line which went down the rim and connected to two barrels near the lake.
In 64 and 65 we worked 7 days a week (my pay was $331.50 a month and $206.50 was deducted for room and board – employees who stayed until September 15 got a $50 bonus). In June the road wasn’t plowed all the way to the Cleetwood Cove trail head, so we would hike to the trail head over the snow from where the snowplows had finished the day before. Usually it was more than a mile or two but we were always carrying supplies so it was not fun. The worst job I remember was carrying the 6-volt storage batteries for the boats. We packed in paint for the boats and building supplies for the new building. Once the road was plowed, we brought down cases of pop, candy bars, and other sundries to sell to the tourists. The lodge provided us with sack lunches (excellent ones!) which we usually sold to the tourists.
I have many more memories of those summers.