Crater Lake

Shared by Mystech

Little nuggets of history meeting myth like this always fascinate me. The Black Sea flood is another one that intrigues me.

Image of Crater Lake located in

Crater Lake

The deepest lake in the United States and once the site of epic destruction that lives on in myth

Crater lake has been known by a number of names. It was first known (to non-Native Americans anyway) as “Deep Blue Lake,” as named in 1853 by its ‘discoverer’ John Wesley Hillman, an American prospector. Later in 1885 it was dubbed Lake Majesty, and finally Crater Lake.
Today Crater Lake, and the Crater National Park that surrounds it are a popular location for hikers and campers, but it was once the site of enormous geological upheaval, and one of the largest volcanic eruptions ever witnessed by people. One which was so terrifying and awe-inspiring it has been recorded in the myths of the areas native Indian tribe and passed down via story for nearly 8000 years.
Roughly 7700 years ago (people having arrived to the Americas at least 14,000 years ago), a volcanic mountain, posthumously named Mount Mazama, exploded with forty two times the force of Mount St. Helens, or put another way, the force of a very large hydrogen bomb. The 11,000 foot tall mountain blew some 5000 feet of its top off and collapsed in on itself. After it cooled it left a 1,949 foot deep, five by six mile crater where there had once been a mountain. So large was the crater that, as the crater filled with 4.6 trillion gallons of rainwater, it was transformed from crater into the deepest lake in the United States, and the ninth deepest in the world.
With such a dramatic display it is no surprise that the native Klamath tribe, who would have been living to the southeast of the mountain, took serious note. They have a distinct legend about Crater lake that has been passed from those 7700 years ago, down to today. The other Indian tribes of the area also have myths relating to the eruption, though with different gods and mythology. The Klamath myth takes the form of a great battle between a fiery underworld god known as Llao and a sky god known as Skell. The war is described by a Klamath Indian chief as such:
“With such a sound as had never before been heard, the throne rock of Lla-O burst upward and outward, and great objects and smaller fell through the air, bearing with them the very stars of the heavens. Full seven days no sun was seen and there was no way to tell this day from another, and there was no light save the glare of the flaming mountains, and every day of those seven days the yellow water-smoke took toll in agony from those that could not live.”
The legend includes many other elements including that “two holy men offered to sacrifice themselves by jumping into the pit of fire on top of Llao’s mountain” as well as the story of a last battle, which explains the volcanic formation of “Wizard Island” a mini volcano with its own mini crater lake – known as the witches cauldron – which rises from crater lake.
Besides Wizard Island, Crater lake is known for a number of other features including the 100 year old “Old Man of the Lake” which is a full sized hemlock tree that has been stuck vertically in Oregon’s Crater Lake since at least 1896.

Read more about Crater Lake on Atlas Obscura…

Category: Geological Oddities
Edited by: canuck, Dylan

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