Crater Lake is the 9th deepest lake in the world

Crater Lake was formed around 4680 BC when the volcanic Mount Mazama blew its top in spectacular fashion. The eruption, estimated to have been 42 times more powerful than Mt. St. Helens’ 1980 blast, reduced Mazama’s approximate 11,000 foot height by around half a mile.

The mountain peak feel into the volcano’s partially emptied neck and magma chamber, and Crater Lake was formed in the new crater.

Crater Lake has long been revered as sacred by the Klamath tribe of Native Americans, whose myths embody the catastrophic event they witnessed thousands of years ago. The central legend tells of two Chiefs, Llao of the Underworld and Skell of the World Above, pitted in a battle which ended in the destruction of Llao’s home, Mt. Mazama.

An 1886 article in The Oregonian newspaper reported:

This account, and others like it, is now regarded as factually inaccurate. Although the Klamath Indians regarded the lake with much respect, awe and fear, many did (and do) approach the lake. In fact, Crater Lake was a major site for vision quests.

The 1920s researcher Leslie Spier was told of a Klamath man who, “having lost a child, went swimming in Crater lake; before evening he had become a shaman.” The quest for such spirits required courage and resolution:

Another ritual at Crater Lake was to undertake strenuous and dangerous climbs along the caldera wall. Some would run, starting at the western rim and running down the wall of the crater to the lake. One who could reach the lake without falling was thought to have superior spirit powers. Sometimes such quests were undertaken by groups. Rocks were often piled as feats of endurance and evidence of spiritual effort. Such rock-pile sites are usually built on peaks or ridges with fine views of the lake.

On June 5, 1853, Crater Lake was seen by white men for the first time. Three gold prospectors came upon it and one remarked in his journal, “This is the bluest lake we’ve ever seen.” They named it Deep Blue Lake. Crater Lake has been impressing visitors ever since. In 1886, Captian Clarence Dutton, who made the first measurements of the depth of the lake, observed:

Similarly, Mark Daniels, General Superintendent of the National Parks, remarked of Crater Lake:

In 1902, Congress decided that Crater Lake and its surrounding 180,000 acres were to be “dedicated and set apart forever as a public park or pleasure ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people of the United States.” The passing of this act was the culmination of a 17-year effort, championed by Crater Lake’s primary promoter, William G. Steel.

Today, Crater Lake remains a sacred site for power quests and other spiritual pursuits, both for members of the Klamath Tribe and those interested in Native American spirituality. And for just about everyone, the spectacular lake is a place of religious-like awe.

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