The Old Man of Crater Lake, Oregon

In a world were a couple of old men are on a lake, where age becomes the focus of a description, where heads are covered in fishing hats, one old man floats, silently. Sans fishing hat. Now this old man is going to make his presence known. In the water. Across an entire Crater Lake.

Sorry I've been doing research on voice-over artists and have watched a few Don LaFontaine videos. That's coming up in a later post.

What we're looking at here is the Old Man of Crater Lake, Oregon. It is a 9m (30 feet) tall tree stump, most likely a hemlock, which has been bobbing vertically in Oregon's Crater Lake since at least 1896.

1901 photo by Silas Diller where the Old Man
is the floating white object right of centre

Map by John E Doerr for August 1938

John E. Doerr mapped a lot of things around Crater Lake and one thing he mapped was the Old Man's whereabouts from day to day between July and September 1938 and what he found was that the Old Man got around. The Old Man can travel up to four miles in a day especially if there are high winds and wave action going on. 

Stand on it and see what happens. Go ahead.

At the waterline, the stump is about two feet in diameter and stands approximately four feet above the water. The surface has been bleached white by the elements. The exposed end of the floating tree is splintered and worn but wide and buoyant enough to support a person's weight. Fontinalis, a moss that is present in the waters of Crater Lake at a depth of 120 m (394 feet), also grows on the Old Man, the only place the moss is found near the surface. 

Thirty feet straight down with a clear
view of the whole stump
and the moss growing along its length

Here the Old Man is seen visiting a dock looking for hand outs

I wanna know where the old man is in this picture. Can we get someone to
point it out please? Anyone? Why is there snow everywhere but no ice on the lake? 

Seeing pics of this huge stump very close to shore impelled me to check out the stats on Crater Lake. If you're on the beach and a vertically floating thirty foot stump is just a few feet off shore this indicates a huge drop off very close to where you're standing, wouldn't you say? So how far does it drop off? Average depth is 350 m (1,148 feet) with a maximum depth of 594m (1949 feet) of crystal clear, frigid water. 

The sides of the crater are almost vertical and when they sink below the surface of the water they stay pretty much vertical until they hit bottom. Trees tend to slide down the wall of the crater root first and into the water and sink but the Old Man has remained bobbing along, for over a century. Scientists quoted by other people quoted by me believe that the clarity and coldness of the water has contributed to the preservation of this old tree.

Oh hai there! Please relay my position to
the other boaters for their safety! Thanks!

Since it can be seen virtually anywhere on the lake, boat pilots commonly communicate its position to each other as a general matter of safety.

Some of my pics and info I found here at A Blast From the Past. There are a couple of really beautiful photos here and here


Angie said...

You find the most fascinating things to talk about. I'd love to see this.

A-Gran said...

I was just coming to ask where she finds these fascinating things. Frimmy is a wealth of trivia.

Frimmy said...

I dunno. Just lucky I guess

iambriezy said...

It's the hobos, sillies.

Jake said...

Our class in Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan was reading about the Old Man in the Lake. We happened upon your site and really appreciate the pictures to show us how it has moved around. The entire class (5B) thinks that this was a great article. Many Thanks,

Mr. B

Frimmy said...

Thank you, I really appreciate that. This was one of my favourite posts.


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