Atlantis Arisen/Chapter 12
A CHAT ABOUT OREGON MOUNTAINS.
If there is anything of which an Oregonian is more proud than another, it is of his mountains, for every one exhibits that personal interest in them which amounts to a sense of proprietorship. Portland shop-windows are full of bad pictures of Mount Hood, which, notwithstanding their deficiencies from an artistic point of view, are yet pleasingly suggestive. That they sell is certain, for the production never ceases.
I may as well confess right here that I am myself responsible for starting this particular fad. Years ago, on my first visit to Oregon, I was delighted with the charming cloud-effects so noticeably lacking in the drier climate of California, as well as with the woods and the snow-peaks. My enthusiasm in my correspondence with the well-known California artist, F. A. Butman, "slopped over" to such an extent that he came up here and made a good many sketches. On returning he painted a "Mount Hood" on a large canvas, with a beautiful foreground, which, by the way, was a composition, for there is no such actual foreground for the mountain in nature. I purchased the picture, and rather thoughtlessly allowed it to be photographed. From that photograph, with variations never original enough to disguise the source of inspiration, have been painted numberless other Mount Hoods, which, could poor Butman, long since gone to the Hills Beautiful of a better country beyond the impassable bourne, behold, he would wish to blot out.
ON THE SUMMIT OF ST. HELEN.
The name of Oregon's principal range, the Cascades, which has a nearly north-and-south course, probably came from the fact that the only passage known through them to the early explorer, hunter, or tourist was the one at the five-mile rapids, which rapids seem to have been always called the Cascades. These were of more importance to the voyageur who had to make a difficult portage than the mountains themselves, and in speaking of the latter he simply said, to distinguish them from others, "the Cascade Mountains," and so named them for all time.
But Oregon has several other though not as high ranges,—namely, the Blue Mountains, so called from their color seen across the tawny waste of the plains, which have a northeast and southwest course through East Oregon; the Coast Bange, which follows the trend of the west shore of the continent, near the sea; and three or four cross-ranges from the Cascades to the Coast Mountains in the southern part of the State. All these ranges have their peaks, but only the great Andean chain of the Cascades lifts up into the region of cold air its crumbling volcanic cones covered with snow, which even the fiercest heat of summer only diminishes, but never dissipates except on the sharpest ridges.
The most southern of these, and next above California's pride,—Mount Shasta,—is Mount Pitt, nine thousand two hundred and fifty feet high, named after the British statesman by British subjects in Oregon before the boundary question was settled. Frequent attempts have been made to change its name to Mount McLoughlin, in honor of Dr. John McLoughlin, the benevolent governor of the Hudson's Bay Company in Oregon, who rescued from starvation the immigrants of 1843, at a time when the London board would far rather they had been left to perish than have been rescued, to the injury of the fur-trade and the weakening of England's claim on the territory. So difficult is it, however, to make these changes understood, that the Oregonians have compromised by naming a lesser peak in Klamath County Mount McLoughlin.
Next north of Pitt is Union Peak, feeding the north fork of Rogue River. Thirty-five or forty miles farther north is Mount Scott,—whether a namesake of the general or of an Oregon pioneer I do not know,—eight thousand five hundred feet in height. About the same distance above Scott, and of the same altitude as Mount Pitt, is Mount Thielsen, so called in compliment to General Thielsen, of the Oregon Railway and Navigation Railroad. This peak feeds the south fork of the Umpqua River. Again in thirty or forty miles rises Diamond Peak, five thousand five hundred and ninety-five feet in height, which is the source of the middle fork of the Wallamet on the west and of the Des Chutes River on the east. At the head of McKenzie's Fork of the Wallamet is the remarkable group of snow-peaks called the Three Sisters, with Black Butte and Snow Butte eighteen or twenty miles farther north, and feeding streams on the eastern slope of the range.
At the head of the Santiam River is Mount Jefferson,—it should be Mount Thomas Jefferson,—named by Lewis and Clarke in 1806, and standing well east of the centre of the range. This is a very interesting mountain, and evidently has been much higher than at present, which is equally true of all the snow-peaks.
Mount Hood is situated about twenty-five miles south of the Columbia River, and sixty miles east of the Wallamet, rising, like Jefferson, from the eastern side of the main axis of the range. The western view of it is that of a massive pyramid, with some slight variations from exact lines; but from the Dalles its rugged features are more distinctly seen, and its outline is broken into separate peaks and ridges. It was named after Lord Hood by Vancouver's lieutenant, Broughton, October 20, 1792. The early Oregon settlers, or some of them, wished to change the name to Washington, and to call the Cascades the Presidents' Range, but custom prevailed, and Hood it remains. The height of Mount Hood has never been satisfactorily ascertained. The measurements taken have varied from eighteen thousand to eleven thousand feet, but later estimates make it about twelve thousand. Half its height is covered with perpetual snow,—that is, it towers more than a mile above the range into the region of clouds and storms of which the dwellers in the valley know nothing,—its venerable head buffeted by icy blasts even in summer.
About seventy miles north and a little east of Hood is Mount Adams, nine thousand five hundred and seventy feet in height, named after President J. Q. Adams. It belongs to Washington, but is one of the five peaks visible from all parts of Northern Oregon. It is not so high as Hood or St. Helen, but it has a noble outline, and reminds me of a sleeping lion. One of the curiosities of Mount Adams is a series of ice-caves, lying at an elevation of four thousand feet, the trail to which leads up the White Salmon River, which comes into the Columbia opposite
Hood River. In their vicinity the earth gives forth a hollow, reverberating sound suggestive of openings beneath. The entrance to the largest cave is down a well-like shaft, by means of a rope. The apartment here is about eighty feet in diameter, and square. The walls are solid ice, the floor and ceiling supporting huge formations resembling stalactites and stalagmites, which when illuminated by torches give out a splendid display of colors. The air in these caves is clear, cold, and dry, the temperature being too low to permit of extended explorations. Is there buried here an immense glacier, or does there exist a combination of causes in the form of chemical constituents to produce ice ? Let the scientists decide.
Northwest of Mount Adams, and a hundred miles or more north of Hood, is Mount St. Helen, so named by Broughton, in 1792,—another mountain of Washington which enters into the panorama of snow-peaks seen from the Columbia River. It is, presumably, nine thousand seven hundred and fifty feet in height, and remarkable for its dome-like symmetry of outline. It is approached from the Columbia by the north fork of the Cathla-. pootle, or Lewis, River, and is not difficult of ascent. Mount St. Helen has been repeatedly known to throw out steam and ashes, scattering the latter over the country for a hundred miles to the eastward in 1832, so obscuring the daylight as to make it necessary to burn candles. On the southern slope is a hot spring that keeps the rocks always bare, which spot goes by the name of The Bear,—no pun intended.
I do not pretend to have ascended even one of the many snow-peaks of the Northwest. It requires strength and woodcraft, as well as alpine experience, to explore the Oregon mountains on their western flanks, where the canons are deep and steep, where frightful precipices are to be scaled with ropes, and changes of temperature to be encountered, before reaching the snow-fields. Therefore I have contented myself with achieving an altitude of eleven thousand feet in some places and between seven thousand and eight thousand in others, and have taken my impressions at second-hand for the greater heights. The railroads of the West are great educators in this respect. They carry us easily and without asking our consent right into the heart of the great ranges, and show to the most delicate woman
or the city-bred man the wondrous things of a creation forever going on, equally by building up and breaking down.
Cite, for instance, the Southern Pacific’s entrance into Oregon. It leaves the Sacramento Valley only to enter the long, winding and beautiful canon of the Upper Sacramento River, where the hillsides are covered with pine, oak, and madrono forest,- the narrow bottoms with cotton-wood, poplar, and willow thickets, while the banks are overbung with water-loving plants, and the river dances down, down, bright, joyous, and tireless, towards the sea, bearing with it the weariness which may have oppressed us; for who can be weary in such scenes ? Every now and then the toiling train glides past a settler’s home, the chosen residence of some man who loves these beautiful solitudes better than the busy life of towns or the more genial climate of the valley. Then, again, up the canon we catch a glimpse of Mount Shasta, with its massive bulk divided into triple peaks piercing the sky at fourteen thousand four hundred and forty feet,— shining white with a blue sky over it.
Up and up we go. Lower Soda Springs, Upper Soda Springs (and what delicious water!); Mossbrae Falls in a semicircle of mossy rocks,—emerald and silver,—where the water seems to come from the top of a mountain in many streams, a novel and charming effect; then up and up once more, following ridges and making long loops which take us past the spot we touched twenty or thirty minutes before, but at an elevation above it of several hundred feet;—then Sissons. At Sissons is a fine view of Mount Shasta, and an expanse of level country beyond, with this and other peaks in sight continually. Across this elevated plateau runs the Klamath River, and upon it is the once populous mining town of Yreka, where A. D. Richardson discovered a palindrome on a sign,— Yreka Bakery. I have no doubt this literary curiosity still maintains its position, but the railroad avoids the town, and travellers lose the opportunity of verifying it.
Soon begins the ascent of the Siskiyou (seize cailleux ) Mountains, with their long piney slopes and dome-shaped summits, their cathedral-spire-like peaks, and magnificent forests surrounding them. By a winding way, with enchanting views on every hand, we glide smoothly down the north side into the
Rogue River Valley, having spent twelve hours amidst such scenery as can be met with in few parts of the earth. And this is only one of several roads, which, so to speak, make a feature of showing the mountains which traverse the Northwest Pacific Coast.
But to return to the Oregon snow-peaks. First a word about their explorers. Several young gentlemen of Portland, in October, 1887, organized the Alpine Club of Oregon, the object of which was to found and maintain a public museum, encourage amateur photography, and also alpine and aquatic exploration, and to look to the protection and preservation of game of all kinds. It divides the work into four departments, as just indicated. The explorers are very enthusiastic.*
The Alpine Club has made some special studies of Mount Hood, having ascended it more than once, photographed it from various points, and illuminated it with red fire on the evening of July 4, 1887, the illumination lasting fifty-eight seconds, and being seen from Portland on the west, and Prine- ville on the east side of the range, the former sixty miles, and the latter eighty miles distant. One hundred pounds of the combustible were used, which was dragged to the top by W. G-. Steel and Dr. J. M. Keene, three of the party having become exhausted two hours after jDassing the timber line.
The practice of the club is to deposit a copper box containing a register of their names and a record of experiences on the summit of each peak explored by them. This is chained to a rock for security, but left accessible to arty visitors who may make the ascent and desire to register. The illumination of Mount Hood was repeated in 1888, when heliographic communications were exchanged with the signal-service officers at Portland. This experiment suggests the use of a signal station on the mountain in time of war—provided the weather could be controlled.
- For the information of other similar associations wishing to correspond,
I give the names of the officers. President, George B. Markle; Vice-Presidents, W. G. Steel, W. W. Bretherton, John Gill; Secretary, George H. Himes; Treasurer, C. M. Idleman. W. G. Steel is president of the exploration department, and M. W. Gorman Secretary. President of the photographic department, W. W. Bretherton; Secretary, E. E. Norton.
The ascent of Hood is, considering its height, not difficult on the south side. There are the usual obstructions to alpine travel,—canons to be crossed, precipices to be avoided, snow too soft at mid-day and too icy at morning or evening, and a temperature, with wind, on the peak which makes a protracted stay, if not impossible, undesirable and dangerous. A great crevasse is to be crossed, which is opened in an immense glacier extending quite across the side of the mountain and constantly moving south. The opening varies in width from a mere crack to a gorge of thirty feet across. The walls of the chasm are of solid ice, green for some distance beneath the snow, changing to blue, growing darker and darker until the line dividing it from space becomes invisible; nor does sound reveal when the rocks rolled into it reach bottom. This crevasse is crossed on a bridge of ice, which brings the adventurer to the last abrupt ascent of four hundred feet to the summit, which is accomplished by cutting steps in the ice.
The summit is an irregular arc of a circle once surrounding a great chimney vomiting forth molten lava, and is now rapidly crumbling away. Sulphurous fumes and steam are still thrown out at a point below the present summit called the crater, where mountain climbers stop to warm and take refreshments.
Some changes are reported as recently occurring on Mount Hood, the crevasses on the northwest side of the crater appearing to have widened, and the ice surface to be lowered. One of these crevasses can be seen to yawn conspicuously for fifteen miles. Many rocks have become detached and rolled down ; among others, the one to which the record box of the Alpine Club was chained, which was, however, recovered in a battered condition and replaced by a new one.
Whoever has the hardihood to make the ascent of Mount Hood—and the number increases annually—has his reward in the prospect to be gained from it. From this altitude all the other peaks are plainly visible, both in Oregon and Washington, and the coast range as well. East and west Oregon and a large part of Washington are spread out like a map. The lordly Columbia may be seen wending its way to the sea, a distance of a hundred and fifty miles, the capes at the mouth showing plainly where it unites with the Pacific. A sunset view, with
the opening between the capes filled with a flood of golden glory, may be enjoyed from the mountain-tops. ‘ To witness a scene like this,” exclaims Steel, in his report, “ many a man would circle the globe.” Imagine the effect of moonlight upon it—a full moon—“ changing the day’s brilliance into a subdued glory.” Surely there is matter for inspiration here. But at seven o’clock the wind blew fiercely, almost carrying the chronicler from his feet, and he had to keep in constant motion not to freeze. It lasted but for an hour, and at eleven o’clock the red fire was burned, casting a rosy glow over the whole mountain side, bringing into relief every crag and pinnacle, and causing the neighboring mountains to blush more delicately.
I have m}’self seen Hood only from the common level, but have beheld him in many moods and phases, when white, cold, and stern he towered rigidly over a winter landscape, and when draped from summit to base in a golden-tinted tissue of morning mist, through which he peeped like a girl in trying on a robe of yellow gauze,—not quite shaken down on one side, the petticoat of snow showing daintily underneath. Many are the solid old mountain’s masquerading airs, and, despite the dignity of his thousands of years, he sometimes affects the blushes of the rose.
To pioneers of 1845 and later Mount Hood is full of meaning. The road over the range at its base, opened that year, was the Eubicon which they passed in pain and peril. The most skilful driving was not skilful enough to guide the staggering oxen through the way provided by the road-makers, and the constant tendency of a forward wheel to run up a tree on one side or the other was a dread to the drivers. But if wagons would run up trees on ascending ground, what was their course when they came to an incline of sixty degrees on the descending side, with a load urging the jaded oxen from behind ? As succeeding trains widened the way a new difficulty arose. It was better to be halted by a tree than not to be able to stop at all, and to find one’s team rushing down the side of a mountain like an avalanche, to death and destruction. To overcome this tendency, good-sized trees were attached by chains to the rear of the wagons, the branches left to act like grappling-irons, and hold back the weight. But woe to the unfortunate wight whose im
provised brake became uncoupled! The best he could hope for in that case was that a fore-wheel would dash up a tree. It happened sometimes that the oxen struck their heads against a solid fir-trunk, when their proprietor became suddenly minus that pair of oxen, and plus a great many fragments of wagon and contents. A well-graded highway now follows the survey of the pioneers of 1845, and conducts the tourist to Cloud-Cap Inn, at the snow line, where much comfort may be enjoyed for four or four and a half dollars per diem.
About centrally situated with regard to the Oregon division of the Cascade Range, the Three Sisters may be ascended without difficulty from the eastern side. Indeed, to get a well- formed idea of the mountains it is necessary to behold them from this side. There is no labor in travelling over the piney slopes of the eastern incline. It is like riding through interminable parks, with little obstructing undergrowth, a dry soil, and abundance of flowers, and occasional small game. Three or four days’ easy horseback travel from The Dalles through a country abounding in natural wonders brings us to the foot of the Three Sisters.
They stand in a triangular group, the base of the triangle being towards the west. Though perfectly distinct peaks, the northernmost being highest, they are connected near their base by lesser intervening elevations. Accustomed as we have become to mountains, the Three Sisters force from us the pro- foundest expressions of admiration and delight. So lofty, so symmetrical, so beautifully grouped! Nor are there wanting adjuncts which augment the interest of the scene. At the foot of the group stands a single needle of basalt several hundred feet in height, in its grim, black hardness looking like a sentinel guarding the Olympian heights above.
Our party prepare to ascend the north Sister. By reason of the greater general elevation of the country on the eastern side of the Cascade Range, and the more gradual slopes also, the toil of an ascent is greatly diminished. By keeping along a ridge we find it comparatively easy to clamber up. Two of our party, however, decide to attempt a more abrupt ascent.As we course along our rocky ridge we watch the adventurers on the snow-field. After climbing over a sharp slope of broken rock, they come upon an incline of nearly eighty degrees—in fact, the snow-field appears concave to us—and commence crawling up it. By great exertion, and cutting steps in the snow with their hunting-knives, they reach the edge of the first crevasse, where we see them pause, holding on to the edge and looking into it. They can proceed no farther. The crevasse is fifteen feet across and hundreds deep. Could they throw themselves over, they must inevitably slide back into it, from the glassy surface above.
Starting cautiously to return, and holding back by striking their heels in the snow, making but slight impressions, first one, then the other, loses his hold, and down they go,—swiftly, swiftly, ever more swiftly,—darting like arrows from their bows, straight down the steep incline, towards the rocks below the snow-line. The younger and more active contrives to draw his hunting-knife from its scabbard, and, by striking it into the hard snow, to check his speed. What a grip he has! I laugh, while I am trembling with excitement, to see him swing quite round the knife-hilt, like a plummet at the end of a string swung in the fingers. He has arrested his descent in time to avoid the rocks.
Hot so his clumsier companion, who comes down—luckily, heels foremost—among the rocky débris at the bottom. His bruises, though many, are not dangerous; and this little experience teaches our friends the needful prudence. They are content thenceforth to take the longest way round, which is the surest way to the object of their desires. After two or three hours of clambering, we reach the line of perpetual snow.
Just below it is a belt of cedars, with tops so flat that we walk out on them a distance of twenty feet, either side their trunks. Early in their struggle for existence their tops have been broken off by the wind, and the weight of many winters' snows has retarded their upright growth, until the result of a century of aspiration is a ludicrously short stump, and immensely long and broad limbs. In this region we find a few stunted mountain mahogany trees, but are quite above the pines.
Above this, in the snow, or rather in the thin layer of soil deposited in places among the rocks where the sun's action prevents the snow from accumulating, are several varieties of flowering plants with which we are familiar; the blossoms, however,
are but the miniature copies of their valley kindred. So fragile, of such delicate hues are they, that a feeling of tenderness is inspired by their lonely position on this bleak summit; and we ask ourselves, For whose eye has all this beauty been spread, age after age, where human footsteps never come? Let those who believe everything terrestrial was made for man search those places of earth where only God is, and study their adornments.
The view from the peak of our mountain is one long to be remembered. To the north of us stretches the Cascade Eange, with its wilderness of mountains, from six to eight thousand feet in height, overtopped by Mount Jefferson and Mount Hood. To the south, the same wilderness of mountains is seen over the tops of the other Sisters, with Diamond Peak and Mounts Scott and Pitt beyond, while in the far distance we fancy we discern great Shasta.
To the east spread away immense plains, with their river- courses marked as on a map, and bounded by the Blue Mountains. Just below is Des Chutes, and on the other side of it, not far off, is the extinct crater of a volcano, its remaining walls being only two or three hundred feet high. All around it the country is covered with black cinders, ashes, and scoria. Turning towards the west, we behold the lovely Wallamet Valley, with its numerous small rivers, its hills and plains, and beyond it the blue wall of the Coast Mountains.
We resolve to return to the pine woods to camp, and with tomorrow’s dawn to climb once more to the summit, to behold “ morning on the mountains.” The spectacle compensates for the extra toil. When we arrive, there is a veil of mist hanging between the valley and the mountain-top. We know that they in the valley see nothing of the summits, while we of the summits can discern nothing below this floating sea of vapor. How beautiful! It is as if out of a sea of golden-tinted mist are springing islands of dark-green, some of them crowned with glittering snow, and overhead a cloudless heaven. With every moment some new and beautiful, but almost imperceptible, change comes over the misty ocean in which are bathed those isles whose shores are abrupt mountain-sides; and, in turn, all tints of gold, rose, amber, violet, float before our enchanted eyes.
Not long the scene remains. An August sun quickly disperses the gossamer clouds, unveiling for us the scene of yesterday in its morning sharpness of outline, with high lights and deep shadows in the foreground, and with a soft, illusory glimmer in the deep distance. We hardly wait for the full blaze of day on the picture, preferring to remember it in this more striking aspect.
Along the crests of the mountains are frequent lakes, some of which occupy old burnt-out craters; others may have been formed by the damming up of springs by lava overflows; others by a change in the elevation of certain districts, leaving depressions to be filled by the melting snows or by mountain springs and streams. These lakes occur generally where signs of recent volcanic action in the neighborhood are most numerous, as in the vicinity of Mount St. Helen, Mount Jefferson, the Three Sisters, and Diamond Peak.
Pumice, cinders, scoria, and volcanic glass, with other evidences of eruption comparatively recent, abound all along the eastern base of the Cascade Eange, and extend some distance through the central portion of East Oregon. The traveller must ever be amply repaid for the labor of exploration by the great and varied wonders which meet him at almost every step of his journey. It does not prejudice a country either, in a practical sense, that it is of volanic formation. Such have been the lands where civilization came to the greatest perfection. Probably the east slopes of the Cascades will yet be celebrated in song as “the land of the olive and vine.” It is certain that grapes and peaches raised upon this soil are of excellent flavor.
The lakes which are such a striking feature of the Cascade Range in both Washington and Oregon are not usually of much extent. Echo Lake, on Mount St. Helen, is three miles long by a quarter of a mile to a mite in width. It is filled with trout, and bordered by bold shores covered with evergreen forest. The character of the scenery here is of a gentler aspect than in some other parts of the mountains, tempting whole families every summer to encamp for two or three weeks in this vicinity.
On the contrary, Fish Lake, in the range east of R oseburg, is
set in a deep rim of frowning rocks, shadowing the brown depths where speckled trout disport themselves in ice-cold waters which in a mile or two plunge headlong over a precipice two hundred and fifty feet in height between pillars of basalt.
South of Fish Lake about three miles is Mount Volcano, with its western half blown off, leaving a sheer precipice six hundred and fifiy feet, descending into a basin semicircular in shape, containing a forest of fir-trees, three charming lakes of small size, and several green marshes, between which yawn fissures opened ages ago when this basin was a fiery crater. Many such scenes have been discovered, and many yet await discovery among these half-explored mountains. Water-falls abound, and a very pretty one, appropriately named Silver Vail, occurs on a tributary of the Klamath Kiver.
Some years ago—it was just after the Modoc war—I crossed the Cascades between Ashland and Linkville with a party, of whom the “Sage of Yoncalla” was one. It was an interesting trip from every point of view. We had an ambulance, a baggage-wagon, and horses, and walked or rode as it pleased us to do, taking three days for the passage. The first night we encamped in the valley of Jenny Creek, from which we took our supper of fish, and, not knowing any better, I left my shoes out in the dew, of the effect of which I became unpleasantly aware next morning; but I had a good sleep, quite undisturbed by grizzlies, of which there were not a few in the mountains. Next day our hunters killed a deer, and while we waited for it to be dressed, being in advance of the hunters, a huge brown bear trotted leisurely across the track in front of us; but the guns were behind, and we quietly watched his departure, thinking it was an escape on both sides. That night we encamped on the summit, and toasted venison on sticks around a blazing log- fire. We told stories, sang songs, and slept well afterwards. There was no dew to wet my shoes this night; but I was awakened about three o’clock in the morning by the voice of the Sage, who^ like those of old, called upon me to observe the brightness of the morning star. And it was worth the misery of being wakened at such an hour to behold the great golden clusters sparkling above us,—two or three times as large as when seen through the murky air of the lowlands.
As we walked along next day the Sage told me the story of the. opening of this road—the Southern Immigrant Road it was called—by himself and others, in 1846, when it was feared in Oregon that there might be a war with Great Britain, and it behooved them to be surveying out a track for the soldiers of the United States to take in coming to protect the Oregon settlers, which would be safer to travel than the Columbia or Mount Hood routes. He showed me, too, a tree near the crossing of the Klamath River where some of Fremont’s exploring party carved their names in 1843.
Linkville was at the time of this trip but a few months old, and most of the settlers in Klamath Land had been driven out by fear of the Modocs—most of those not murdered. I was present at the trial of the Modoc prisoners at Fort Klamath, and spent some weeks at the Klamath Indian Agency, visiting notable places and studying Indian mythology under the tutelage of Captain O. C. Applegate, who is a master of Indianology.
But the crowning pleasure of those enjoyable weeks was an excursion to a lake then little known, but now famous in the Northwest. It was discovered in 1853 by prospectors from Jacksonville looking for gold, who, deeply impressed by its weird beauty, called it Lake Mystery. Subsequently some gentlemen from Fort Klamath visited it and called it Lake Majesty. Both these names were suggested by the effect upon the beholders. But exploration convinced all that the great rocky bowl containing these beautiful waters, whose rim was eight thousand feet above sea-level, was an immense crater, egg- shaped in form, and six by seven miles in extent of surface. This discovery changed the name to Crater Lake, which it is now called.
According to the belief of scientists and other observers, there once stood here a volcano higher by several thousand feet than any existing mountain, the angle of the remaining mass carrying an imaginary line to a height of thirty thousand feet. As surveyed by government officers the depth of the crater is four thousand feet, and of the water, two thousand feet over a large extent of the bottom, the shallowest part away from the cliffs being fifteen hundred feet. There is a crater within the crater, rising in a hollow cone above the water eight hundred and
forty-five feet, called Wizard Island, and another similar crater fathoms deep beneath the lake’s surface.
The military road from Jacksonville to Fort Klamath runs within about four miles of the lake, and is the route usually taken by tourists. But the approach from the east side is much more easy, being a comfortable afternoon’s drive from the Agency to camp at the turning-off point. Our party found bear tracks close to camp, and deer-tracks in the ashes of our burnt-out fire when we arose from our mosquito tormented slumbers. Our ambulance was taken to the summit, although we walked a good part of the four miles, for the ground was very lumpy with rocks and frozen snowdrifts which July suns had failed to liquefy, and which, to them unaccountable, phenomenon kept our mules in a greatly agitated state of nerves.
On arriving at the summit we found the earth light and ashen, diversified by patches of snow, and by other patches of alpine flowers, some of which were very pretty in form and color. The air was bright and mild: we had left the forest behind us; there was nothing anywhere about more elevated than our position, nor any living thing anywhere near us. We were apparently on the highest point of the earth, for there was nothing to look up to, and it would not have surprised me to have been whirled off into space. The solitude of the situation was thrilling.
One cannot, owing to the sunken position of the lake, discover it until close upon its rim, and I say here, without exaggeration, that no pen can reproduce its image, no picture be painted to do it justice; nor can it, for obvious reasons, be satisfactorily photographed. At the first view a dead silence fell upon our party. A choking sensation arose in our throats, and tears flowed over our cheeks. I do not pretend to analyze the emotion, but, if I were to endeavor to compare it with anything I ever read, I should say it must be such a feeling which causes the Cherubim to veil their faces before God. To me it was a revelation.*
- That this is not an uncommon effect of the first view of Crater Lake is
shown by Captain C. E. Dutton’s report of the survey, in which he says, “ It was touching to see the worthy hut untutored people who had ridden a hundred miles in freight-wagons to behold it, vainly strivi ng to keep back
The water of Crater Lake is of the loveliest blue imaginable in the sunlight, and a deep indigo in the shadows of the cliffs. It mirrors the walls encircling it accurately and minutely. It has no w T ell-like appearance because it is too large to suggest it, yet a water-fowl on its surface could not be discovered by the naked eye, so far below us is it. It impresses one as having been made for the Creator’s eye only, and we cannot associate it with our human affairs. It is a font of the gods, wherein our souls are baptized anew into their primal purity and peace.
The Indians, who are easily impressed by the unusual as well as the sublime in nature, hold Crater Lake in great awe. They have a legend running thiswise : A Klamath hunting-party came upon it unexpectedly, and regarded it with silent fear, for they knew at once that the Great Spirit dwelt here, and that they had no business with him ; therefore they silentl}’ retraced their steps down the mountain, and made a.distant camp. But one of their braves ventured to return, and passed the night on the rim of the lake. This he did for several successive nights, during which he heard strange noises and voices coming from the waters. Having familiarized himself after some months of venturing to visit the lake, he descended to the water and bathed in it, repeating this feat many times, thereby gainingthe power to see spirits, and receiving supernatural strength. This led others to imitate his example, who likewise received great strength. But at length the first brave was impelled to kill a monster which he met with in the water, and for this act was set upon b}’ llaos or water-sprites, taken to the top of the cliffs, torn into small pieces, and thrown back into the lake to be devoured. Such, they since believe, will be the fate of any Klamath who ventures even to look upon this lake. A rock on the northern side of the lake has been named Llaos Rock, in memory of this superstition. Other points are named after persons and resemblances, as Dutton Cliff, Cathedral Rock, Phantom Ship, and—I mention it with due modesty—Victor Rock, in compliment to my early visits to this then almost unknown wonder,
tears as they poured forth exclamations of wonder and joy akin to pain. Nor was it less so to see so cultivated and learned a man as my companion hardly able to command himself to speak with his customary calmness.”
and a trifling feat of daring performed to get a view of a beautiful reflection under this overhanging stone parapet.
The approach to the lake is from the west or northwest. To the right of the approach is a small grove of spruce-trees of a good height, in a sort of sink with piled-up rocks behind it, and on the south, inside the rim, are trees growing among the rocks for some distance, as also on Wizard Island, which has a belt of trees around its base ; but for the most part there is no vegetation shown in this locality.
Crater Lake lies on a plane made by cutting off the top of a cone, its west side embedded in the range, and its east and south sides rising clear from the plain eight thousand feet below. A quarter of a mile from the lake one may stand on the edge of the plane before mentioned and look over the Klamath Yalley, seeing distinctly the settlements fifty miles away. Korth of the lake is only a jumble of mountains, with Mount Scott and Diamond Peak rising more prominent than their neighbors.
Congress, in January, 1886, set aside Crater Lake and a body of land thirty miles long by twelve miles wide for a national park, Oregon agreeing to j)reserve and keep it for the pleasure of the people for all time. The boat used by Captain Dutton in his survey still remains at the lake, and as tourists multiply other means of viewing it in its whole extent will be furnished.
The railway tourist would most naturally leave the train at Medford, taking the old road to Fort Klamath and returning the same way. Pogue Piver rises in the range near Crater Lake, flowing for some distance through a deep canon along the edge of which the road runs.
Even here are evidences of the forces which have rent the rocks asunder, as well as of the lapse of time which has assisted the elements to mould and carve them into fantastic shapes. Some distance off the road, we were told, is a locality where blocks of pumice as “ big as a meeting-house” may be seen, which must have been produced in the furnace of the great dead volcano to the east. In one place Pogue Piver has a foamy passage through a narrow gorge called The Dalles, below which it widens out in a series of rapids, after which it gathers its w T aters for a plunge over a sheer precipice one hundred and eighty-six feet perpendicular. The mountains, too, are delightful, being covered with a grand forest of the noble sugar-pine intermingled with other trees of the same family, and with the shrubby chinquapin, laurel, alder, and maple, according to locality or altitude. The air is bright, clear, and buoyant, almost intoxicating in its vivifying quality, and sweet with the balsamic odor of the Pinus Lambertina. Wherever there is an opening to the sun on the hill sides, there blossoms the rhododendron, the mock-orange, the Spiroea ariafolia, and other ornamental shrubs. Where the dust of the road has lain undisturbed from the day before, it is full of prints of tiny feet of birds and other timid creatures which shun our observation by day, but run about on their errands during the night or early morning.
Descending to the valley, the historical Table Rock, where General Joseph Lane fought the Rogue River Indians in 1853, becomes an object of interest. It is simply a high perpendicular bluff overlooking Rogue River,—the Gibraltar of the Indians in their wars. It brings us back to the contemplation of humanity in phases ill in accord with our late impressions of nature. It is a pity that the former should ever obliterate the latter.
I know how I, if I were a painter, I should personify the young giant Oregon. Lithe, strong, beautiful should he be, with empire written on his brow, and power tempered by mildness beaming from his eyes. Of fair complexion he, with tawny blonde hair and curling golden beard. His robe should be of royal purple embroidered with wheat-ears, and his crown of burnished gold. His throne should be among the rugged mountains, with a lake at his feet, rolling yellow plains on one hand, and smiling green valleys on the other. His sceptre, shaped like the tapering pine, should be of silver, set with opals, emeralds, and diamonds. On his right should roll the magnificent Columbia, to which ships in the distance should seek entrance; and over his shoulder the white crest of Mount Hood stand blushing in a rosy sunset.