Photography and the Making of Crater Lake National Park

By Howe, Sharon M. | Oregon Historical Quarterly, Spring 2002 | Go to article overview

Photography and the Making of Crater Lake National Park


Howe, Sharon M., Oregon Historical Quarterly


The first impression made by the view breaking upon me all at once was that I saw the inverted vault of heaven with a wall of delicately tinted rock...all reflected like a painting in a mirror upon this blue transparency! It is impossible to give any idea of its wonderful beauty.

-- Frances Fuller Victor, "The Gem of the Cascades," West Shore, November 1876

Photographers and their images may not have made Crater Lake a national park, but they attracted people's attention when words failed. William G. "Will" Steel -- who poured out hundreds of superlatives in newspapers, magazines, and a book during the seventeen years he spent promoting the idea of a Crater Lake National Park -- appreciated the value of photography as a vital tool in his sales kit. Through photography, he was able to communicate his wonder at the monumental beauty of Crater Lake and the scientific curiosities of the lake and its formation. Steel, himself a sometime photographer, joined a U.S. Geological Survey expedition to investigate Crater Lake in the summer of 1885. In concert with scientists of the expedition, he hatched a plan to make Crater Lake and its surroundings a national park to preserve it for all time against threats from sheep grazing, logging, and mining.[1]

Photography mirrored this combination of art and science to communicate both the beauty and the physical nature of Crater Lake and its environs. Steel was operating in a tradition already established in Yellowstone National Park, which became the nation's first national park in 1872. Yellowstone also encompassed monumental scenery, and its puzzling geysers and mud pots begged for the scientific study that was becoming an important aspect of American culture.

In 1876, Francis Fuller Victor described Crater Lake as the "contradictory yoking of tourist recreation and nature preservation," a description that characterized the creation of many national parks in America.[2] Will Steel's first objective was to preserve the natural wonders of Crater Lake. Once the park was created, however, he turned his considerable energy to providing access and services for tourists, eager for as many people as possible to see the lake that so inspired him. He commissioned and obtained photos of Crater Lake to promote his vision of a park. Photography proved to be a valuable tool both in the creation of national parks and in subsequent tourism promotion. As early as the 1860s, photographers Carleton Watkins of San Francisco, Martin M. Hazeltine from Baker City, and others helped promote the first protection for Yosemite as California public trust land.[3] In much the same way, other prominent photographers became associated with the creation of national parks, including Yellowstone. The authorization for the U.S. Geological Survey's Yellowstone expedition in 1871 specifically called for collecting photographs; and the expedition's photographer, William Henry Jackson, captured spectacular images of that monumental scenery. Many of Jackson's photographs were included in an exhibit in the Capitol rotunda, which helped inspire Congress to create Yellowstone National Park.[4]

While photographs helped persuade citizens and politicians that the scenic wonders of the American West ought to be preserved as national parks or forest reserves, public fascination with the monumental, beautiful, and exotic landscapes of the West gave photographers an opportunity to make money from their work. The transcontinental railroads played a pivotal role in bringing western landscapes to public attention, while providing the transportation and sometimes the services that encouraged tourists to enjoy them.[5] The railroads contracted with photographers to travel and photograph the parks and other scenic attractions along their routes and published the photographs widely in brochures, calendars, advertisements, and other promotional materials.

Photographers and the Southern Pacific Railroad played similar roles in creating Crater Lake National Park.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Photography and the Making of Crater Lake National Park
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.