Crater Lake
Historic Resource Study
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"Crater Lake"
Joaquin Miller

This newest national park looks more like a park, to begin with, than any other that we have, even with all the cost and care bestowed on others. It is a constant marvel here to see the blue and white lupin, the crimson honeysuckle, and dazzling, bright yellow dandelion disputing with the tardy snow for a footing in mid-August. The air here, spiced with the odor of stately hemlocks under a glaring hot sun, is something astonishing in its vigor-giving qualities. Our young men, and pretty women as well, are up with the sun and out till twilight. I have yet to hear the word "weary" from any one, but the fine, vigorous air is on the lips of our observant and learned university men at every meal.

The lake? The Sea of Silence? Ah, yes, I had forgotten-so much else; besides, I should like to let it alone, say nothing. It took such hold of my heart, so unlike Yosemite, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, when first seen, that I love it almost like one of my own family. But fancy a sea of sapphire set around by a compact circle of the great grizzly rock of Yosemite. It does not seem so sublime at first, but the mote is in your own eye. It is great, great, but it takes you days to see how great. It lies two thousand feet under your feet, and as it reflects its walls so perfectly that you cannot tell the wall from the reflection in the intensely blue water, you have a continuous and unbroken circular wall of twenty-four miles to contemplate at a glance, all of which lies two thousand feet, and seems to lie four thousand feet, below! Yet so bright, yet so intensely blue is the lake that it seems at times, from some points of view, to lift right in your face. In fact, the place has long been called by mountaineers, along with many other names, Spook Lake.

The one thing that first strikes you after the color, the blue, blue, even to blackness, with its belt of green clinging to the bastions of the wall, is the silence, the Sunday morning silence, that broods at all times over all things. The huge and towering hemlocks sing their low monotone away up against the sky, but that is all you hear, not a bird, not a beast, wild or tame. It is not an intense silence, as if you were lost, but a sweet, sympathetic silence that makes itself respected, and all the people are as if at church. The sea bank, the silent sea bank, is daily growing to be a city of tents. You discern tents for miles, but you do not hear a single sound. Men do not even chop wood here. They find broken boughs of fallen forests and keep their camp-fires going without the sound of axe or hammer, a sort of Solomon's temple.

Sunset for September 1904

From: Steel Points, v. 1, n. 1 (October 1906), pp. 23-24.

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Last Updated: 14-Feb-2002