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The Souvenir of Western Women/Crater Lake

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Crater Lake

By WILL G. STEEL.

CRATER LAKE is located in the summit of the Cascade Range of mountains in Southern Oregon, sixty miles north of California. It rests in the crater of Mount Mazama, which was originally one of the greatest mountains on the continent. However, it was wrecked by a volcano, at which time all that portion of the mountain above 8000 feet elevation disappeared, leaving a ragged shell, or cauldron, four thousand feet deep and five and one-half miles in diameter. In the course of time 2000 feet of water collected, forming a lake that is unique in the world's history. It is one of the greatest natural wonders of the earth, and in many ways is remarkable. It is 6239 feet above sea level. The water is remarkably clear, but when undisturbed is the deepest blue possible to imagine. From the surrounding rim this blue is intense, and is equally so when seen from a boat, but is then of a more brilliant hue. One who has never seen it can not comprehend the intensity of color.

To the southwest is Wizard island, a round cinder cone 845 feet high, in the top of which is an extinct crater 500 feet in diameter and 100 feet deep. After the first great eruption the mountain fell within itself, and for a time existed as a turbulent sea of lava. Here and there little cones were formed by the lava bursting up, overflowing and cooling, and Wizard island was the last of such miniature volcanoes. About a mile north of it, however, is a similar formation 1200 feet high, the summit of which is 600 feet below the lake's surface.

I first visited the lake in 1885, at which time it was only known to a comparatively few residents of Oregon. At that time I started a move to secure a national park, and after seventeen years was rewarded by getting President Roosevelt interested. With his characteristic energy he took hold of the matter, and Hon. Thomas H. Tongue's bill was immediately passed by Congress and signed by the President.

In 1886 it was my pleasure to sound the lake for the general government, at which time boats were built in Portland and were taken to Ashland, 343 miles south, where the running gear of a wagon was used to carry the largest one, the Cleetwood, one hundred miles into the mountains. It was then, with two skiffs, launched over the lake's walls one thousand feet to the water, where they all arrived in perfect condition and were used to sound and survey the lake. The deepest sounding was 1996 feet, but for several square miles in the northerly portion every sounding was over 1900 feet.