Jack Tice, 1950-1951

Crater Lake National Park Centennial Oral Histories

 Jack Tice, 1950-1951

I worked as part of a 16-man trail maintenance crew in 1950. I then worked as a labor lead man with a 4-man detail in 1951. Our job started with opening the old lake trail located across from the cafeteria parking lot at the rim down to the lake boat ramp on the south wall (1.5 miles).

Our schedule was to clear the trail by the Fourth of July if possible. From that point on we cleared and repaired all trails from Garfield Peak to the fire lookout on Devils Backbone. All nature trails and viewing turnouts were raked and the rim drive ditches and culverts were cleaned. We were also the firewood detail for the government camp maintenance area. We were trained in firefighting as backup for the fire department and did engage in putting out a lightening strike fire at the Big and Little Goose-egg cinder cones area on the south side of the mountain.

Here is a tale of Chris, the janitor

Toward the end of July in 1950 a half-grown black bear showed up at Government Camp at the back of our mess hall. It apparently was getting a little food from the cooks or helpers. For a bunch of us young guys helping a young bear seemed to be the right thing to do. It became a common practice to dip a pancake into some jam or syrup and feed our friend.

The bear soon became tame enough to decide it was appropriate to sleep in the wood box at the top of the barracks stairs. The only drawback was that Chris the Janitor went to town on weekends and would get a little inebriated.

About the second week, very late on a Saturday night, the bear was sleeping soundly in his box and Chris was having a little trouble getting up the stairs, two steps up and one step back. When he finally got to the top I guess he was still climbing because he fell into the box and on top of the sleeping bear. Chris started shouting and cussing. The bear was a lot more scared than Chris as he made a mess going down the stairs and back to the safety of a big fir behind the kitchen. He didn’t come down until late the next day. The Rangers then took him to a safer place, away from Chris!

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