Otis “Pete” Foiles, 1939-1942

Crater Lake National Park Centennial Oral Histories

 Otis “Pete” Foiles, 1939-1942

I was a full time Ranger from December 1939 to October, 1942, when the decision was made to not keep the park open during the winter due to World War II. We were the last family to leave the park that year.

I proposed to my wife at Cloud Cape Overlook in August, 1940. We were married October 15, 1940 and moved into our ‘Honeymoon House’ at Park headquarters area. Our first child, Elouise was born in April, 1942 and we had to put her in a toboggan to get to our house, upon our return from the hospital, because a snow storm had closed the road. Of course, snow was a big experience for us. We were used to snow in Colorado, but not the amount that we got at Crater Lake. At that time only about 10 families lived in the Park in the winter and we became as one big family. We were very comfortable under 25 feet of snow; but when the power went out for 2 or 3 days it was a challenge because we used electricity for cooking. We would end up cooking on top the oil stoves that were used for heating the houses. I think the lake is even more beautiful in the winter than in the summer. Helping people out when snow caused them problems was one of our duties. One morning I came upon a couple stranded on the road during a bad storm. They had been all night with no heat or a place to stay except in the car. When I stopped to help them I noticed we were right by a telephone that we had put up for just such situations. I asked them why they didn’t use the phone to call for help. The fellow said “I thought about that, but the sign said “For Emergency Use Only”.

There was a CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) camp at Annie Spring before I arrived, but they kept a side camp of about 10 boys (men) at headquarters area that were very helpful in maintenance of the park. I had been a CCC boy for 18 months in Colorado in 1933 & 34. On one occasion a CCC boy helped me pack supplies up to a lookout on Mt. Scott. When we got there he looked out over the Cascade mountains stretching both north and south from there and said “Good Gawd Almighty, if this country was ironed out flat it would be bigger than Texas”.

We have some pictures and lots of memories that we would like to recall along with the 100th anniversary of Crater Lake National Park.

The wildlife in the Park were a lot of fun for us. Shortly after our daughter was born she and her mother were outside when a mother bear and her cubs came along. When I cam home there was my wife and baby feeding the bears and having a great time. I scolded her and told her we didn’t do that in the Park. Later that evening the bears came back and were pawing at the window looking for more food. That scared her and she never did that again. A red fox showed up at Annie Spring and became quite friendly. On one occasion the fox came up while a photographer from “Life Magazine” was there. He got a wonderful shot which was published in one issue of the magazine.

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