The Creatures of Crater Lake

Hutchinson’s Ghost House Trail
Hutchinson’s Ghost House Trail
May 30, 2016
Ottie’s Bluff Mountain Monument
May 30, 2016

The Creatures of Crater Lake

Crater Lake

Crater Lake is a cascade range in Southwest Oregon.  The cistern holds bright blue, pure rainwater spanning over twelve square miles.  The crater was formed as a result of a now dormant volcano, Mount Mazama, over seven thousand years ago.  Measuring in at 1,943 feet deep, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States and the seventh deepest in the world.  Boasting over half a million visitors each year, it is clear to see why so many people travel to take in Oregon’s beautiful treasure.

Crater Lake doesn’t just attract visitors for its beauty.  Many also flock to the crater due to its reputation as being a hotbed for ghostly encounters, frequent disappearances, and sightings of beasts.  There have been an abnormal amount of disappearances both in and around Crater Lake.  Between 1926 and 1997, over thirteen people have fallen to their deaths at Crater Lake.  The crater is also a host to many suicides, fatal car wrecks, unexplained plane crashes, and ghastly recreational accidents.  Many of the bodies involved are never found.

(images:vitamininmotion/flickr) Title: The chief--Klamath. Date Created/Published: c1923. Summary: Photograph shows Klamath Indian chief in ceremonial headdress standing on hill overlooking lake, California or Oregon. Photograph by Edward S. Curtis, Curtis (Edward S.) Collection, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

(images:vitamininmotion/flickr)
Title: The chief–Klamath.
Date Created/Published: c1923.
Summary: Photograph shows Klamath Indian chief in ceremonial headdress standing on hill overlooking lake, California or Oregon.
Photograph by Edward S. Curtis, Curtis (Edward S.) Collection, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

One explanation for the strange occurrences comes from Klamath legend.  The Klamath Indians have said that to gaze upon the blue waters of Crater Lake is to invite death and sorrow.  They describe an occurrence where their tribe happened upon the Crater and was so overcome with uncomfortable emotions that they set up their homes further away.  None would go near the crater, except one young warrior.  He traveled back to gaze upon the beautiful blue depths and felt stronger.  He repeated this every night, feeling stronger every time.  One night, he decided to bathe in the depths of the crater.  He came out even more strong.  The rest of the tribe decided to follow suit.  They each became more strong and skilled.  One night, a warrior killed an animal who approached him in the lake.  Since that time, they explain the crater has been cursed in punishment for the sin of the young warrior.

Native American presence was so strong at the crater that it went undiscovered for a great time.  Native Americans would warn settlers away from the area due to their feelings of apprehension toward the area.  The Modoc tribe was one of the first tribes in the area.  They made their homes near Crater Lake even before the eruption of Mount Mazama.  The area, even at that time, was a great taboo.  No one would travel near the area as they believed it was evil and the home of dark spirits.

In the middle of Crater Lake lies Wizard Island.  It was named as such in 1885 by Will G. Steele because the island resembled a wizard’s hat.  Rangers consistently report seeing campfires on Wizard Island.  When they boat over to investigate, they find no flames, smoke, or singed grass.  Although happening frequently, they have never been able to locate a source.  Wizard Island is also said the be the home of the giant salamanders.  Legend has it that the salamanders are the spirits of men who are doomed to suffer their eternal lives in torture due to their earthly wrongdoings.

Unexpecting visitors have not only experienced giant salamanders.  In 2002, Mattie Hatcher was in a row boat when she spotted something described as a black monster, over a block long swimming underneath her boat.  She described it as dragon-like.  A more common beast is that of Bigfoot.  Reports of spotting Bigfoot have been prevalent in the area since the 1970s.  Park rangers describe following a large, dark, putrid creature throughout the forest, only to have it attack them or throw pinecones at them.  Later reports involve hitting the creature with both a car and a train.

(images:9753378@N02/flickr) Crater Lake

(images:[email protected]/flickr)
Crater Lake

Other stories revolve around the appearance of UFOs.  In 1997, a jet pilot followed what appeared to be a UFO around the lake.  While he was the only one to witness the craft, the entire state of Oregon experienced a sonic boom on the same night.  Many have reported seeing strange lights over various parts of the lake and Wizard Island.

Crater Lake has a long interesting history.  Whether looking to enjoy the beauty of recreational areas or courageously exploring the mysteries of the creatures and disappearances, it looks like Oregon has a little something for everyone.  The lucky visitors will know who they are- they’ll be the ones who make it home to tell their friends all about it.

Megan Borchert
Megan Borchert
Lover of all things unusual, Megan is a staff attorney for the state of South Dakota. When she's not stuffed in an office writing case synopses, you can find her at home with her army of Schnauzers, snuggled up with some strong wine and a good book.

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