Crater Lake, as the name might suggest, was created when the volcano Mount Mazama collapsed, leaving behind just the tip of the volcano as the island Wizard Island, which stands from the bottom of the lake up to over 700 feet above the water’s surface. The collapse of the volcano left behind a huge crater that formed a lake about 2,000 feet deep, the deepest lake in the United States. It is also know for its picturesque views, with high, sheer cliff faces rising another 2,000 feet above the water’s surface. It is supposedly one of the most beautiful sights around, considered sacred by the Klamath people.
One rather interesting feature is the Old Man of the Lake. It’s not really an old man, but a tree trunk that has been documented to be floating vertically in the lake at various locations since the year 1896 (well over a century!) (pictured above). Reportedly, it is wide enough and buoyant enough to withstand a person on top of it. The thing is, we don’t exactly know why it has remained floating this way for as long as it has. Typically, floating logs lay horizontally along the surface of the water, because that’s how science works. We can make guesses, and there are good guesses out there, but we have no definitive proof because of how long ago the tree got to this state. Check out this Atlas Obscura article to read about that a little more. There is also a myth about the Old Man that states that a research team in the late 80′s was concerned about the safety hazards of the large tree stump moving around the lake so they tethered it to Wizard Island. Apparently, as soon as the log was tied to the island, the weather got nasty and the water got choppy. Spooked, the team decided to cut it loose and deal with it possibly getting in their way. So, at that point, the weather turned nice again in a matter of minutes.
Now, no creepy lake is complete without monster sightings. It has been written on several sites that a woman named Mattie Hatcher, from Georgia, was interviewed for a newspaper called “Fort Meyers News-Star” about a “monster” sighting at Crater Lake, despite it being in Oregon and the woman being from Georgia, in 2002. This is suspicious for several reasons. The only “News-Star” I could find was in Louisiana and I was unable to locate anything related to Crater Lake on their site. And then, there was a paper called “News-Star” near Fort Myers (different spelling), Florida, that seems to have been absorbed into Fort Myers’ News-Press paper. This doesn’t really bode well for the credibility of the claim but supposedly Mrs. Hatcher said “That thing must have been a block long…To me it looked like a dragon.” It makes for an interesting folktale, at the very least.
I was able to track down some slightly more credible information about this case in the form of the book called Haunted Hikes: Spine-Tingling Tales from North America’s National Parks by Andrea Lankford. In this book, Lankford describes a set of twins, Lloyd and Larry Smith, who were rangers at Crater Lake for a long stint, that actually has a website called Crater Lake Institutewith extensive chronological records about any events that occurred at or near the park. Some of these notes involve unsolved murders and strange or possibly paranormal encounters experienced by rangers and visitors alike. It does appear that there were Bigfoot sightings/experiences as well as UFO sightings. You can even check these out for yourself by looking through their records here.
In 1945, something called “The Burp” occurred at the lake. The area is clearly volcanic and that always comes with the risk of a dormant volcano becoming active again, but it seemed that the lake was spitting out huge, diamond-shape plums of “dust-like gas” that is still unexplained to this day. It is also worth noting that approximately 98% of the landscape of the lake underwater is unexplored.
Oh, and one more thing. Apparently, rangers see “phantom fires” on Wizard Island, particularly in illegal areas where camping and fires are not allowed. However, when the rangers boat over to talk to the campers, they would find no signs of a fire: no smell, no smoldering embers, no sign of people. One particular instance was noted, the phantom fire was seen in an area that used to be an old park campground. That’s a bit…bizarre.