Phantom Ship from the Reflection Point substation on East Rim Drive.
No part of the park's road system has yet
been nominated to the National Register of Historic Places, though two
buildings associated with the Rim Drive circuit were listed in 1988.
Portions of the system (routes 2, 3, 4, 7, and 8) nevertheless became
part of the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway, a route that achieved
All-American Road status in 1998. This national designation led to
preparation of a corridor management plan, where one supplement aimed at
making future site design through the park and an adjacent national
forest compatible with the original stone masonry features found on Rim
The assumed eligibility of Rim Drive for
listing is based on meeting two of four National Register criteria for
areas of significance. These are Criterion A, for its association with
the history and development of Crater Lake National Park, and Criterion
C, for its association with landscape architects and engineers who
produced an outstanding example of blending naturalistic and functional
design in the areas of landscape architecture and highway engineering.
As a linear designed landscape that took shape between 1926 and 1941,
Rim Drive also fits the framework established for two previous multiple
property listings that highlighted similar themes at Park Headquarters
and Rim Village. A multiple property National Register form on
Landscape Design in the National Park Service placed Rim Drive and other
national park roads built during that period into the wider context of
American history, focusing on conservation, public recreation,
government, and landscape architecture as areas of significance. That
documentation form also covered trails associated with historic park
roads, particularly where this part of a circulation system reflected
naturalistic principles underlying their planning, design, and
construction. In addition to Rim Drive and five associated trails, the
park also contains well-preserved examples of earlier road construction
that may also qualify for listing. Portions of wagon roads built in
1865 and 1869 are extant in association with historic camps located
along those routes. The park also contains two remnant pieces of a
wagon road built in 1905-06, as well as representative segments of a
road system designed for automobiles and attributed to the Army Corps of
Engineers. These illustrate how roads in the vicinity of Crater Lake
evolved prior to the advent of NPS administration in 1917, both in terms
of construction techniques and the standards used in providing access
for a steadily increasing number of visitors.
The park road system of past and present also
in some ways illustrates the transformation of American highway
engineering and landscape design over more than a century, and serves as
a reminder of how travel to Crater Lake changed during that period of
time. Where several thousand people reached the rim each summer during
the 1890s, annual visitation has increased more than a hundred-fold.
The system was altered and upgraded to meet demands for vehicular access
to the park, though these improvements helped reduce the average length
of a visit to Crater Lake from several days in the early part of the
twentieth century to less than four hours at present.