Administrative History
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The National Park Service was established in the Department of the Interior by an act of August 25, 1916 (39 Stat. 535), and funds were provided for its operation by an act of April 17, 1917 (40 Stat. 20). The act provided that the Service would administer the fourteen national parks, twenty-one national monuments, and Hot Springs Reservation. The bureau was to

promote and regulate the use of the Federal areas known as national parks, monuments, and reservations hereinafter specified by such means and measures as conform to the fundamental purpose of the said parks, monuments, and reservations, which purpose is to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.

Thus, Crater Lake National Park became a part of the National Park System. Prior to 1916 the individual national parks and monuments had been administered as separate entities, but with the inauguration of the Park Service the various areas were slowly melded into a coordinated system under the energetic leadership of the bureau's first director, Stephen T. Mather, who was appointed to that position on May 16, 1917.

Within days of the establishment of the National Park Service Mather, who was functioning as Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Interior, was in Oregon voicing his dreams and hopes for Crater Lake National Park. His ideas, which would play a significant role in the conceptual and functional development of the park during the next decade, were presented at a luncheon to Portland businessmen. He observed:

It looks like we'd have to go to the bat for the development of Crater Lake National Park this Winter. . . .

I have just come from the Crater Lake Park, and I am free to say that I believe it has probably the greatest possibilities of any scenic park in the world.

Its development cannot be allowed to be delayed any longer. Either we shall have to get the co-operation of Oregon people to carry forward its development, or I shall go to California and try to interest the capital there. It seems that Oregon people should be willing to go forward and help develop their great park, and Oregon would be my first choice in looking for men to co-operate with the Government in the work. I am a native of California, however, and, in case Oregon doesn't come forward, I may yet have to go to my friends in California with the matter.

Tacoma and Seattle have raised $200,000 for the development of Rainier National Park and the Park Service Company in California is spending $700,000 in the development of Yosemite Park to improve its accessibility and the service to tourists.

As a suggestion of how Crater Lake development could be implemented, Mather recommended that Portland, Medford, Ashland, and Klamath Falls might raise $500,000 and arrangements be made with the railroads to sell tickets routing tourists by automobile through the park. Since the development already undertaken in the park by Parkhurst was "broad in its conception," Mather challenged the Portland businessmen to display an interest in a project that was being developed by one of its own men. [1]

When Crater Lake National Park entered the National Park System it was considered to be one of the Service's "crown jewels." At the inception of the system numerous publications described the superlative scenery and beauty of the park. In an article published in American Forests in October 1916, Mark Daniels, former General Superintendent and Landscape Engineer of National Parks, described the scenic grandeur of the lake in glowing superlatives:

Many people whose repugnance for platitudes is not sufficiently strong to prevail against their indifference to the value of an extensive vocabulary will describe Crater Lake as the eighth wonder of the world and let it go at that. To many others, myself included, it is the whole eight, and then some, if one may be permitted to resort to the more expressive vernacular. The sight of it fills one with more conflicting emotions than any other scene with which I am familiar. It is at once weird, fascinating, enchanting, repellent, of exquisite beauty and at times terrifying in its austere-dignity and oppressing stillness. In the sparkling sunlight, its iridescent hues are dazzling and bewildering. When a storm is on, it throws terror into the heart of the observer and carries the mind back through the eons when it was born in Titan throes of nature. There are a few other crater lakes in the world. In India, Hawaii and Italy there are some; perhaps there are others in other lands, but there is none known to man that can remotely approximate the transcendant beauty of Crater Lake in Crater Lake National Park. [2]

Writing in the April 1917 issue of Sunset, Aubrey Drury continued with the same superlative vocabulary:

. . . In many ways this is the most remarkable body of water in the world. There is no lake its equal in depth, no lake so blue, none surrounded by such precipitous walls. Its whole setting is strange and unusual: it is a lake in a mountain-top, occupying the crater of a burnt-out volcano. . . .

This whole region is one to delight the heart of the mountain-lover. Many trail trips may be taken from the Lodge, and the Rim Road, which eventually will encircle the lake, affords magnificent automobile drives. Southward by automobile road are Anna Spring Camp, Dewie Canyon, and the remarkable Pinnacles in Sand Creek Canyon. All the scenic beauties of the vast Cascade Range await the visitor to this famous summer pleasure-ground of Oregon; and most splendid of them all, a wonder among wonders, is that magical mirror held up to catch and intensify the blue of the sky--Crater Lake. [3]

Robert Sterling Yard expanded upon this theme in his The National Parks Portfolio published in 1917. Describing the "Lake of Mystery," he noted:

Crater Lake is the deepest and the bluest fresh-water lake in the world. It measures two thousand feet of solid water, and the intensity of its color is unbelievable even while you look at it. Its cliffs from sky line to surface average over a thousand feet high. It has no visible inlet or outlet, for it occupies the hole left when, in the dim ages before man, a volcano collapsed and disappeared within itself.

It is a gem of wonderful color in a setting of pearly lavas relieved by patches of pine green and snow white--a gem which changes hue with every atmospheric change and every shift of light.

There are crater lakes in other lands; in Italy, for instance, in Germany, India, and Hawaii. The one lake of its kind in the United States is by far the finest of its kind in the world. It is one of the most distinguished spots in a land notable for the nobility and distinction of its scenery. [4]

Two years later Yard used even more glowing descriptive imagery to describe the beauty and serenity of Crater Lake. In his The Book of the National Parks published in 1919, he stated:

Lured by his eloquence the traveller goes to Crater Lake and finds it all as promised--in fact, far better than promised, for the best intended adjectives, even when winged by the energetic pen of the most talented ad writer, cannot begin to convey the glowing, changing, mysterious loveliness of this lake of unbelievable beauty. In fact, the tourist, with expectation at fever-heat by the time he steps from the auto-stage upon the crater rim, is silenced as much by astonishment as by admiration.

Before him lies a crater of pale pearly lava several miles in diameter. A thousand feet below its rim is a rake whose farthest blues vie in delicacy with the horizon lavas, and deepen as they approach till at his feet they turn to almost black. There is nothing with which to compare the near-by blue looked sharply down upon from Crater's rim. The deepest indigo is nearest its intensity, but at certain angles falls far short.

Nor is it only the color which affects him so strongly; its kind is something new, startling, and altogether lovely. Its surface, so magically framed and tinted, is broken by fleeting silver wind-streaks here and there; otherwise, it has the vast stillness which we associate with the Grand Canyon and the sky at night. The lava walls are pearly, faintly blue afar off,

graying and daubed with many colors nearer by. Pinks, purples, brick-reds, sulphurs, orange-yellows and many intermediates streak and splash the foreground gray. And often pine-green forests fringe the rim, and funnel down sharply tilted canyons to the water's edge; and sometimes shrubs of livelier green find foothold on the gentler slopes, and, spreading, paint bright patches. Over all, shutting down and around it like a giant bowl, is a sky of California blue overhead softening to the pearl of the horizon. A wonder spectacle indeed! [5]

Writing in a similar vein Henry O. Reik, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Medical Reserve Corps, described the beauty of Crater Lake in his A Tour of America's National Parks (1920). Concluding his chapter on the park, he stated:

Remember that there is no lake its equal in depth; no other lake of such size occupying the crater of an extinct volcano; no other lake surrounded by such artistically colored, rugged mountain walls; and no other body of water of such a wonderful, indescribable blue. This coloring, varying from a faint turquoise to the deepest indigo blue, makes Crater Lake one of the most beautiful spots in America. [6]

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Last Updated: 13-Aug-2010