Crater Lake National Park


The Crater Lake National Park was created by act of congress approved May 22, 1902. It is situated in Klamath County, Oregon, and has an area of 249 square miles, or 159,360 acres. Crater Lake is near the summit of the Cascade Range, in the crater of an extinct volcano which is estimated to have been more than 16,000 feet high. The lake, which is practically in the center of the park, is approximately 6 miles long and 4 miles wide, and has a water surface of 20 and a quarter square miles. The lake is 6,177 feet above sea level and the depth of the water is 2,001 feet. The almost vertical walls of the great caldera in which the lake is situated rise from 1,000 to 2,000 feet above the surface of the water.

Crater Lake was first discovered by John Hilman, the leader of a party of gold hunters on June 12, 1853, and was next seen by white men October 1, 1862, by Chauncey Nye and his party of prospectors and miners. It was known by some of the officers and enlisted men of Fort Klamath, Oregon as early as 1865, but did not come into much prominence until about 1855. Crater Lake is 498 miles north of San Francisco CA., 62 miles from Klamath Falls Or., 84 miles from Medford Or., 96 miles from Ashland Or., and 89 miles from Roseburg Or.


As a young college student in southeastern Kansas in 1870, Will G. Steel, known as "The Father of Crater Lake" first heard of the lake. He decided to read the scap of newspaper wrapped around his lunch. The news story described a wonderful lake in Oregon. It was 15 miles in diameter, surrounded on all sides by perpendicular walls, 5,000 feet high. In the center was an island 1,500 feet high, with an extinct crater in the top 800 feet deep. The article held a strong facination for Will Steel. He determined then and there to go to Oregon, decend to the water, climb to the island and take his lunch in the crater.

When he moved to Oregon with his parents two years later, he almost immediately began seeking the lake. For nine years this search continued, before he found anybody who had ever heard of the lake. Then he met Chandler B. Watson of Ashland Or., who had actually been there and told him it was called crater lake. There were no railroads and it was not until 1885 that he was successful in getting there. The first view was overwhelming. There were no claims of any sort on any of the land, every inch of which belonged to the general government. A deep sense of personal responsibility overcame him. At that instant he determined to save the lake for future generations. How, he did not know, but the idea of a national park appealed to him.
Will Steel Formed the Mazamas, a Portland based organization of "mountain climbers and lovers of nature." The club, with Steel as its president, met on crater lakes rim and proposed the name Mazama for the destroyed mountain that had been transformed into a lake. for years he worked not only at earning a living , but also at struggling to gain a national park status for crater lake. He hand carried fingerlings from the Rogue River to the lake and made the first "fish planting" of about 35 tiny fish. News paper records give details of Steel's naming park landmarks, his protests when he discovered illegal timber cutting on the lower slopes, and his efforts that led to President Benjamine Harrison's having the area designated as a forest reserve, an act that protected the lake and surrounding lands until it became a national park.

A petetion to the President was prepared, asking that ten townships be withdrawn from the market, until legislation could be secured for a national park. President Cleveland granted the petition by issuing a proclamation withdrawing the land, and soon thereafter Senator Dolph introduced a bill in the senate to create a crater lake national park. In February 1888 the Senator wrote to Steel that it was utterly usseless to try and secure favorable legislation as the opposition was overwhelming and suggested that the land be given to Oregon for a state park. Steel objected to this. He persisted in his efforts for 17 years, and finally a bill passed both houses on May 22, 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt approved it and Crater Lake National Park was on the map.


A few weeks after the park was established a miracle transpired. Congress voted $2000 for protection and improvement and in August that same year William Franklin Arant was appointed as the first superintendent of the Crater Lake National Park, by the Department of the Interior. He was recommended for the position by representative John H. Tongue, Senator John H. Mitchell, the Chairman of the Republican State Central Committee, first district, the Secretery of State and the Secretery of the Treasury. At the beginning he was given a salary of $1000 and allowed one dollar per day for his horse.
A beginning was made in road building. Superintendent Arant lived in a tent in the park-at camp Arant, five miles from the lake, until 1905 when a home and office building were built at camp Arant, but no shelter for horses. Also, by 1905 a barely passable road was completed to the crater. In winter he moved down to Klamath Falls. The buildings in the park fared ill in the heavy snowfall of Crater Lake; they collapsed in the winter of 1908-9, and had to be rebuilt with heavier timbers, steeper roofs, and better workmanship.

                                           William F Arant and his Family

Will Steel was responsible for the survey of the lake in 1902-03 and its surrounding area by the U.S. Geological Survey. Thirty three men and sixty five horses and mules were mobilized for the work. Steel was appointed to prepare boats and equipment for sounding. Three boats were built in Portland then shipped to Ashland on a flat car. For hte trip to the lake the running gear of a wagon was used, and a framework was constructed on it to hold the largest boat in a strong canvas swing in which it was hauled up the mountain to the lake. He christened this boat Cleetwood meaning golden arrow. The other two boats were skiffs. At the lake a framework of heavy timbers was made and the Cleetwood was rigidly secured in it upside down. The men pushed the contraption up the snow bank to the rim, a heavy cable was passed around a convenient tree and a man played it out as it was needed.

The next morning standing on a snow bank, with his watch in his hand and every man in his place, at 8 o'clock all jumped to their positions and the serious launching was underway. For eight hours, without stopping to eat or otherwise, 16 men labored with every nerve strained in an earnest desire to do his best. Then we found ourselves at the foot of the canyon, with the Cleetwood's nose projecting over an embankment ten feet high, directly over the water, and not a foot of cable to be had. The oars were secured in the boat, a man sat in the stern bracing himself as best he could. With a single stroke the cable was cut, the boat shot forward and down and the man gathered himself up in the bow with blood upon his face and bruised all over, but the happiest man in Oregon, for had he not driven the mules that drew the Cleetwood 100 miles into the mountains and finished the trip on the water? He was the only man who ever went from Ashland to Crater Lake by boat. The launching was complete and not a scratch had been placed on the Cleetwood.


Crater Lake National Park
By W.F. Arant Superintendent

The territory embraced within the Crater Lake National Park is largely of volcanic formation, and although Crater Lake is the chief attraction of the reserve, there are many other very interesting natural features, such as beautiful and almost ice-cold springs and creeks, deep canyons, magnificent and lofty peaks, vertical cliffs almost 2,000 feet high, fine waterfalls, beautiful and interesting pinnacles (some of which are 125 to 175 feet high), great caves, and many other beautiful and unique volcanic formations. No picture ever does this beautiful lake justice. I have often heard this remarked by persons who for the first time were viewing the beauties, magnificence, and grandeur of Crater Lake. I have seen many fine photographs and beautiful paintings, but I have never seen a picture of Crater Lake; and this is true of almost everyone who sees it; no photograph or picture of any kind ever fully portrays its marvelous beauty and magnificence; there is certain grandeur and sublimity about it that cannot be brought out in a picture.

This lake has no outlet nor inlet, the supply of water is kept up by the precipitation, which is more than 72 inchesannually. There is an average annual rise of about 3 inches, the snow at the lake and in other portions of the park falls each winter to a depth of from 15 to over 20 feet. The lake is six miles long and 4 miles wide and the water is 200 feet deep with a beautiful ultramarine color and is so beautifully clear and transparent that the bottom may be easily seen at a depth of more than 100 feet.
There is little doubt that the Indians had known of the existance of the lake for many ages, but owing to its peculiar awe-inspiring effect they were very superstitious concerning it, and would not go near it nor would they tell anyone about it. It was their belief that there was a sea monster living in it, some sort of great sea devil that would sometimes rise to the surface of the water, its horns extending several feet high, and would spout the water in the air and in its awful fury would lash the waters of the lake into a foam. They believed it was the abode of the evil spirits-the Llaos, and at the base of Llao Rock, a prominence on the wall of the crater standing 1,999 feet above the water, 1,400 feet of which is a vertical wall of rock, was the home of the Llaos, the evil spirits. It was their belief that if any young member of their tribe ever looked upon this lake that his usefulness to his tribe as a warrier was forever destroyed, but in the recent years of the park, through the advantages of education and enlightenment they have laid aside all such superstitions and legends.

The Crater Lake National Park is an ideal summer resort. The altitude is from 4,500 to nearly 9,000 feet above sea level, mostly above 6,000 feet. In the summers, when it is hot and sickly in the valleys, this ideal camping resort is above the heat and smoke and the impurities of the atmosphere, and is clear, cool, pleasant, and the atmosphere is healthful and invigorating, and the water is the perfection of purity. The water of some of these springs as it gushes from the base of this Crater Lake mountain has a temperature of 35 degree's the year around. The park is in a timbered section, and portions of it are very heavily timbered. It is also situated in what is known as the semiarid section of the State.
The principal game animals are the black-tail deer, the black and brown bear, the silver gray squirrel, and several other varieties of timber squirrels. The birds are the grouse and timber pheasant. There are few water fowl about the lake, presumably by reason of its great elevation above the sea level and its isolation from any other body of water. In the winter the snow falls so deep, 15 to 20 feet and lies upon the ground for so long that all the animals and birds are compelled to migrate to a lower and warmer climates.


Two years after the park was established there were 1,500 visitors-campers, for there was no hotel until 1914. The campers camped where they pleased and made some trouble, cut boughs from the trees, carved names, set fires, carried guns sometimes and presuably shot game when they could. The park was inadequately protected for years. At the end of 1906, superintendent Arant wrote in his report of the superintendent of the Crater Lake National Park to the secretery of the Interior of his heavy work load: Having personally superintended each and ever item of work and business pertaining to the protection and improvement of the park, including all improvement work of every kind, the regulation of the travel through the reserve, the camping, the prevention of any hunting or shooting in the park, the regulation of fishing in any of the waters of the reserve, the observance of all the rules and regulations of the park..... This outline of his duties and a request for ranger help resulted in increassed appropriations and the employment of a seasonal park ranger for the summer of 1907.

The first park ranger at Crater Lake was H. E. Momyer. Until 1913, Momyer was the only ranger in the park. Even after automobiles were admitted to the park in 1911, and he was required to spend most of his time at the entrance station, he worked alone. In the winter of 1911-12 vandals broke into a building used as a hotel and used and destroyed supplies and furnishings. The automobile also increased travel to the park so an addittional seasonal ranger was employed in 1912-13. The Crater Lake ranger force did not again increase in size until 1915 when the ranger reorganizations in all parks were undertaken.


Consession and Other Troubles
For several years there were no concessions in the park, but on May 1, 1907 Secretery Garfield awarded Will Steel a license to operate camping and transportation accommodations and maintain a gasoline launch and row boats on the Lake. Steels company, the Crater Lake Company, was accorded a renewal of its license in 1909, and in 1912 the license was surrendered and a new twenty year lease was granted, covering hotels as well as other services. this looked like a monopoly in concessions, which was wise where there was not much business, but in 1912 Secretery Fisher gave the Klamath Development Company a permit to operate six automobiles for tourist. In 1909 two camps were opened, Camp Crater on the rim and Camp Arant down by the superintendents headquarters, five miles below the rim. The Crater Lake Lodge, on the rim, was not opened until 1915, by which time it was greatly needed because in that year there were 11,371 visits, 8,869 of which were from Oregon.


W. F. Arant and Will G. Steel and the Crater Lake Rumble

For the next eleven years after the park was established in 1902-1913, Frank Arant served as superintendent with efficiency and distinction. The park grew from a primitive, almost inaccesible spot in the wilderness to a popular resort. A magnificent lodge at the rim of the lake was under construction, roads were built and kept under repair, and a crew of foresters was kept busy during the short season, keeping the grounds and the trails spruced up for the increasing number of delighted tourists. A complex of buildings, constructed five miles from the rim of the lake, served as Arant's office and headquarters.

There was no question about his skill and efficiency in performing his duties. He held the position through the administration of President Roosevelt (1901-1909) and William Howard Taft (1909-1913), both republicans.

But in May, 1913, early in Woodrow Wilson's term, William Franklin Arant was summarily dismissed. No reasons were given for his discharge; he was informed in a letter from the Secretery of the Interior Franklin K. Lane that his pay would stop on June 30, 1913. Upon his questioning the action, he was told that the attorney general did not consider the position under civil service, but more or less as a plum in the spoils-system, and that the Secretery of the Interior had the right to remove him without showing cause.

W. F. Arant, feeling he was a victim of flagrant injustice, announced that he intended to hold the office until the state of affairs had been determined by the supreme court and that he would seek an injunction restraining the secretery from removing him until the matter could be legally determined.
William G. Steel was named as his successor. this was not an unconsidered choice. Steel was solely responsible for the lake's becoming a national park, and had long been its strongest fan and supporter. He was, however, a Republican also, and as such hardly merited a favor from a Democrat administration. Arant's friends, many politicians and local Democrats thought Arant's dismissal was an unreasonable double-cross and Arant refused to leave his headquarters. Steel moved into the hotel which was owned and operated by the Crater Lake Company.

Activities at the park came to a halt. No orders were forthcoming for needed improvements, no fees were taken for admission, and both Steel and Arant served notice on the park postmaster not to deliver mail addressed to the superintendent so orders from the Interior Department were not delivered. In the meantime the federal civil service board and Attorney General McReynolds ruled against W.F. Arant and his salary ceased, but he and his family continued to stay on at headquarters and the problem was referred to the United States Department of Justice. Secretery Lane ordered William Steel to remain in the park.

On July 21, a Sunday, United States Marshal Leslie Scott appeared at Arant's office and ordered him to vacate the premises. "I would like to see somebody try to remove me from my own home," said Arant, but in less than a minute he was passed through two doors and landed in the front yard. He returned immediately and was again ejected without ceremony but with dispatch. Marshal Scott removed some of Arant's personal effects and files, and ushered Will Steel into the building.
W. F. Arant, out numbered by a marshal and his deputies, could see he was facing a losing skirmish, and hastened to Klamath Falls, secured a lawyer, Mr. J. H. Carnahan, and five sympathetic friends, and returned to the park and forced his way back into his office. Marshal Scott was not to obe intimidated. He deputized a force of men working in the park and when Mr. Arant again refused to leave, Marshal Scott and his deputies removed the entire group. Outdoors again, Arant's lawyer took a combatants stand and announced loudly that his client was entitled to the office and any action which might comply with the governments demand would injure his case. When Scott ordered Arant to return and unlock the desks and remove his papers, Arant naturally followed his lawyers advise and declined.

Marshal Scott then entered the office where he found a woman sitting on the desk, who turned her head aside and ignored his command to leave. It indeed was Emma Arant holding out as king of the hill, she surely presented no particular challenge to the deputy; she was a tiny lady, weighing about ninety pounds, wringing wet, and could have put up little physical resistance. As the deputies carried her out, Scott took Arant's papers to the yard. Three times Arant returned and each time he was ejected. Finally W. F. and Emma Arant, his brothers, two sons and Mr. Carnahan were successfully locked out. The special reporter to the Tribune wrote that Arant was as defiant and insolent as ever.

                       Emma Durham Arant

By 2'Oclock Arant and his lawyer realized they had been effectually ousted, and Steel took possession of the desk and papers. Mr. Steel did not bar the Arants from occupying a neighborong government building while Arants brother completed work on repairing a bridge for which he had already received his pay. The deposed W.F. Arant, for the time, gave up the field battle to Mr. Steel. He still had his principals and he gave not one inch, but fighting the government is a one-sided battle.
On August 1st the Tribune again reported:

Arant Though Ousted is Most Defiant
Ousted but defiant to the last, W. F. Arant pulled out of the Crater Lake National Park Sunday morning, taking his goods and chattels with him in wagons and heading for Klamath Falls. His last word was that he still considered himself in office regardless of the edict of the Department of the Interior, the United States Attorney or anybody else.
The Deputy United States Marshall D. B. Fuller, who detailed to see that Arant left everything in good order, reported, "Arant left Will Steel in full charge, but he didn't turn his hand to show Steel anything. He merely dropped things as he had left them and let Mr. Steel find out for himself." So whats the complaint? Aiding and indoctrinating the enemy who was commandeered your base of operations haas never been part of the strategy for winning a battle. W. F. Arant and his lawyer had to continue the resistance from a distance.

On August 14 Attorney Carnahan addressed the Klamath Falls Chamber of Commerce on "the plight of W. F. Arant." He told the members, "we have thousands of acres of land in Crater Lake National Park and other Federal Reserves, yet not a Klamath Falls man is in charge. It is the duty of the chamber to see that Mr. Arant is backed up and justice is done." Arant who spoke to the assembly, said, "I was advised by my friends not to submit to this unlawful removal. There was no documented or visible authority. I was simply thrown out and it was not pleasant. I intend to continue my stand."
He gained many supporters who offered sympathy, were indignant at the insensitivity displayed by the Secretery of the Interior, and agreed Arant had been sold out by his government. But by October many of his defenders, who had to attend to other chores, allowed their resistance to erode. Only Arnat and Mr. Carnahan continued to wave the flag of protest. At the end of October the Klamath North West reported on a back page that "former Superintendent W. F. Arant...received a letter from the Interior Department telling him for about the 'steenth time that he had been removed and no further salary as superintendent was coming to him." Mr. Arant has forwarded his bill to the Interior Department each month since he was ousted. With each bill goes a letter stating that the writter is awaiting orders to perform certain tasks in connection with the park work.

With his submission of a monthly statement and a request for orders, W. F. Arant hoped to keep current his demands for satisfaction. Lacking any evidence why Will Steel was appointed, one must conjecture he had friends with influence and when he indicated he wished to become superintendent of Crater Lake National Park those friends used their connections to secure the position for him. Mr. Arant's experiences and qualifications therefore were not considered as significant. It seems certain that Secretery of the Interior Lane was one of those individuals who make abrupt decisions without any depth of thinking or reason, and when questioned about these decisions, become brusque and belligerent with no other excuse or explanation than "Well, I was within my rights." It also seems true William Franklin Arant was represented by an attorney who gave him unsubstancial advice and failed to do his homework.

The newspapers, finding W. F. Arant's dismissal eventually fell under the category of yesterdays news ceased featuring the story. Arant continued sending his monthly statement to the Department of Interior and continued to receive the same answer. He had farm business to attend to, and a listening ear became harder to find. His case disappears from local newspapers by 1914. In 1919, six years after the brouhaha at park headquarters, attorney J. H. Carnahan succeeded in bringing the case to the Supreme Court of the Unites States. Mr. Chief Justice White delivered the opinion of the court: Without competitive examination or certification under the civil service law in 1903, William F. Arant was appointed, by the Secretery of the Interior, superintendent of a national park in Oregon. Following his refusal to resign, when requested by the Secretery, he was summarily removed without specification of charges or hearing, and upon his refusal to vacate was ousted by the United States marshall. Nearly two years afterwards this proceeding for mandamus to restore (the claimant) to office was commenced. When a public official is unlawfully removed from office, he should promptly take assert his rights. (The) realtor did nothing to assert his claim...for almost two years. In conclusion we are in full agreement that it is entirely unnecessary to consider (if) the removal of the realtor from office was technically justified or not, since by his own conduct, he has forfeited the right to have the action reviewed.
The supreme court did not decide whether the Secretery of the Interior could fire W. F. Arant, but rather used the fact that he had waited twenty months as a means to avooid discussion. One must draw his own conclusion about the findings reached by the Supreme Court judges. Today, from a different perspective, the affair-a tempest in a teapot- is a pretty good example of the impersonal attitude of a government which is designed to represent the common man but which so often fails to do so. The decision by the Supreme Court saved an investigation into Secretery Lane's unexplained action, prevented any necessity for an apology from an indifferent government, and abolished any need to make a double payment of salary for a period of twenty months.

William Franklin Arant was silenced, his protests came to a halt, and if he still harbored thoughts of the injustice of the decision, he found few desciples. His ranch in Klamath Falls had provided him with a comfortable living, and he and Emma Arant moved to Ashland to a large, cozy home on Nursery street. Although his descendents have scattered, some of them are still in southern Oregon. William Franklin Arant died in November 1927, Emma lived on until 1937. They are buried in the old Linkville Cemetery in Klamath Falls Oregon. In 1916 Will G. Steel resigned from his position as superintendent and was appointed the parks first U.S. Commissioner. In later years he helped to establish the Crater Lake Lodge Company, which provided transportation to the park, camping accomodations and lake boat trips. He successfully requested money from congress for the construction of a road around the lake. In October 1934 he died in Medford Oregon.
The lake today is still untampered with, and it is still a place where visitors can enjoy the beauty and wonder which Will Steel first experienced in 1885.


All the information above comes out of materials in this writers possession: Newspaper articles from the Herald, Tribune, Oregonian, Table Rock Sentenial, Transcripts from the Department of Interior and personal reports kept by Mr. Arant and his personal file from the Department of Interior. Some information and photos are from the Roseburg Museum of History and the Klamath Falls Museum of History, and also family members and descendents of Mr. Arant.

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