Skell, the god of the sky, came to the defense of the people and began pitching fireballs towards Llao, shattering the massive summit of Mount Mazama. When the smoke cleared Llao has been driven back underground, the mountain collapsed on top of him. In celebration of victory over Llao, Skell filled the caldron left behind with water. This caldron is what we now know as Crater Lake.
There are many ghost stories and eerie encounters reported by the Crater Lake Rangers and visitors alike - phantom campers, lake creatures, snow white deer with pink eyes and campfires blazing on uninhabited Wizard Mountain. The most infamous tale, though, is about The Old Man.
The Old Man of Crater Lake isn’t an old Indian Chief as you might think. He is a mysterious, 30 foot log that has been bobbing upright for more than 120 years. First discovered by geologist Joseph Diller in 1896, the Old Man floats around the lake as he wishes, often going against the wind. He’s been observed travelling as many as 60 miles over a 3 month period.
Carbon dating sets his estimated age at 450 years, but no one knows exactly how long he has been bobbing through the water. Rangers credit the cold, clean water and the high density of the submerged portion for its ability to keep its balance.
Staying afloat isn’t the Old Man’s only power. Some say he also controls the weather at Crater Lake.
In August of 1980 a submarine exploration of Crater Lake resulted in his being tied to shore. Soon after the ropes were knotted a storm blew in that made the water too rough to navigate. Once snow began to fall (in August!) the old man was released. The weather began to clear almost immediately.
More Fun Facts about Crater Lake
- If you stacked the Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty, and the Washington Monument beneath the Old Man you would still not reach the lake’s deepest point of 1,943 feet.
- Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the U.S. and the 9th deepest in the world. The world’s deepest lake is Lake Baikal in Russia, an estimated 5,387 feet deep.
- Average temperatures at Crater Lake never reach 70° F and the average annual snow fall is 43 feet.
- William Gladstone Steel is considered “the Father of Crater Lake" for pushing Congress to designate it as a park. Steel also named Wizard Island, a uninhabited cinder cone in the middle of the lake. He first read about the area in 1870, in a newspaper page his mom used to wrap his sandwich that day. It would be 15 more years before he had a chance to visit the area.
- Steel may be consider its father, but credit for the name Crater Lake goes to Jim Sutton, a newspaper editor who wrote about the area in a July 1869 newspaper.