12 Deep Facts About Crater Lake National Park

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iStock

If you aspire to be one of about 500,000 people who trek to Crater Lake National Park each year, chances are you'll try to spot its strikingly blue lake during one of just three or four months when there isn’t snow on the ground. But the area has more than liquid assets. Located in southern Oregon, Crater Lake National Park’s 183,224 acres are filled with evergreens, old-growth forests, and volcano remnants. Here are 15 more highlights from Oregon’s only national park.

1. THE PARK’S NAMESAKE FEATURE WAS FORMED FROM A COLLAPSED VOLCANO.

The basin that eventually became Crater Lake formed when a 12,000-foot-tall volcano called Mount Mazama erupted and collapsed 7,700 years ago. The volcanic basin, called a caldera, eventually filled with water and became the lake that we know today.

2. CRATER LAKE IS THE DEEPEST LAKE IN THE U.S.

Bottoming out at 1,943 feet, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in America. (For some perspective, if you placed New York City's One World Trade Center at Crater Lake’s deepest part, there would still be 151 feet of water above the tower’s highest point.) The body of water also ranks as the ninth deepest lake internationally.

3. THE AREA WAS ONCE REVERED BY THE KLAMATH PEOPLE.

Long before it became a national park, the Klamaths and other Native American tribes considered the lake to be a spiritual place; only those who possessed great wisdom and strength could view it. Llao Rock, which rises nearly 2,000 feet above the lake’s surface, is named after one of the Spirit Chiefs that the Klamath believed created Crater Lake.

4. A CHILDHOOD DREAM LED TO IT BEING DESIGNATED AS A NATIONAL PARK.

In 1870, a child in Kansas named William Gladstone Steel read about Crater Lake in a newspaper. He vowed to visit the lake one day, and finally did in 1885. Steel then made it his mission to have Crater Lake named as a national park, which finally happened on May 22, 1902.

5. THERE ARE NO STREAMS FLOWING IN OR OUT OF THE LAKE.

The water level is maintained only by precipitation, evaporation, and seepage, which helps to explain the water’s clarity and extremely blue appearance. In fact, when white explorers discovered the area in 1853, that’s exactly what they called the pristine body of water: Deep Blue Lake.

6. SNOW COVERS THE PARK FOR EIGHT MONTHS OF THE YEAR.

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The park is snow-covered from October through June, but with an average annual snowfall of 44 feet, snow can stick around into July. Although it’s cold enough for flakes to fly, the lake itself doesn’t completely freeze over. The last time the surface was completely frozen was 1949, though it came close to a total freeze in 1985.

7. THERE IS A SHIP-SHAPED ISLAND IN THE MIDDLE OF THE LAKE.

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Known as Phantom Ship, the island is an ancient rock formation resembling a large, abandoned sea vessel standing 170 feet above the water.

8. A DESERT OF PUMICE STRETCHES ACROSS THE NORTHERN PART OF THE PARK.

The eruption of Mount Mazama shot astronomical amounts of ash skyward, and helped create the park’s Pumice Desert, approximately 50 feet deep, following the eruption. The desert is porous and cannot sustain much plant life, though what does exist there is rugged enough to endure the landscape.

9. THERE IS ALSO A PUMICE CASTLE ON THE GROUNDS.

If a pumice desert isn’t enough volcanic rock for you, then perhaps a castle will do the trick. The park’s Pumice Castle is a bright, rust-colored pumice outcropping on the eastern wall of the caldera.

10. THE PARK'S PINNACLES, A COLLECTION OF NEEDLE-LIKE ROCK FORMATIONS, WERE REVEALED AFTER YEARS OF EROSION.

The tall, skinny forms rising above the Sand Creek Canyon once acted as vents for steam and gas that swirled below the canyon’s surface. The rising heat solidified the ash into the towering pumice figures that stand at over 50 feet.

11. WIZARD ISLAND ISN'T MAGICAL.

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Don't expect to find Harry Potter on the island. Named for its resemblance to a sorcerer’s hat, Wizard Island is the top of a cinder cone volcano within Crater Lake. Boat tours of the lake include a stop at the island to let visitors get a closer look at the 800-year-old trees growing there.

12. A HEMLOCK HAS BEEN FLOATING UPRIGHT IN THE LAKE FOR OVER A CENTURY.

When people talk about the Old Man of the Lake, they aren’t disrespecting their elders; they’re talking about Crater Lake’s 30-foot-tall floating hemlock. Visitors can try to spot the four-foot section that rises above the lake as the wind currents slowly move it along.

Are You Smart Enough to Pass Thomas Edison's Impossible Employment Test?

 Keystone/Getty Images
Keystone/Getty Images

If you thought Elon Musk's favorite question to ask job applicants was tough, you should see the employment test devised by Thomas Edison. When he wasn't busy inventing the light bulb or phonograph, or feuding with Nikola Tesla, Edison was apparently devising a trivia test of nearly impossible proportions.

As Smithsonian reports, the 146-question quiz was designed to weed out the candidates who would be ill-suited to work at his plant, which was a desirable place to get a job in 1921. College degrees didn't impress him much—"Men who have gone to college I find to be amazingly ignorant," he once remarked—so he needed to find a more effective method of determining prospective employees' knowledge.

The test may have been too effective, though. Of the 718 applicants who took the test, only 57 achieved a passing score of 70 percent, and only 32 scored Edison's desired result of 90 percent or higher. This was certainly frustrating to applicants who considered themselves to be pretty well-educated. An unsuccessful applicant named Charles Hansen, who shared all of the questions he remembered with The New York Times in 1921, called the test a "silly examination." Another applicant said it was "not a Tom Edison but a Tom Foolery test" [PDF].

After the test questions became public knowledge, reporters went out and started polling people to see how well they'd do on Edison's test. Albert Einstein reportedly failed (he didn't know the speed of sound offhand), as did Edison's youngest son, who was a student at MIT at the time.

If you want to challenge yourself, check out a few of the questions below, then scroll down to see the answers that appeared in The New York Times. (Note: The answers given were the correct answers in 1921, but some may have changed since then. Some questions and answers have been edited lightly for clarity.)

1. What city in the United States is noted for making laundry machines?

2. In what country other than Australia are kangaroos found?

3. What region do we get prunes from?

4. Name a large inland body of water that has no outlet.

5. What state is the largest? The next?

6. What is the name of a famous violin maker?

7. What ingredients are in the best white paint?

8. What causes the tides?

9. To what is the change of seasons due?

10. Who discovered the South Pole?

11. How fast does light travel per foot per second?

12. Of what kind of wood are axe handles made?

13. What cereal is used all over the world?

14. Name three powerful poisons.

15. Why is a Fahrenheit thermometer called Fahrenheit?

Feeling stumped? Scroll down to see the answers.

1. Chicago

2. New Guinea

3. Prunes are grown in the Santa Clara Valley and elsewhere.

4. The Great Salt Lake, for example

5. Texas, then California (Note: Today it's Alaska, then Texas)

6. Stradivarius

7. Linseed oil, with a small percentage of turpentine and liquid dryer, together with a mixture of white lead and zinc oxide

8. The gravitational pull of the moon exerted powerfully on the ocean because of its fluidity, and weakly on the Earth because of its comparative rigidity.

9. To the inclination of the Earth to the plane of the ecliptic. In the Earth's revolution around the Sun, this causes the Sun's rays to be received at varying inclinations, with consequent variations of temperature.

10. Roald Amundsen, and then Robert Falcon Scott

11. Approximately 186,700 miles a second in a vacuum and slightly less through atmosphere.

12. Ash is generally used in the East and hickory in the West.

13. No cereal is used in all parts of the world. Wheat is used most extensively, with rice and corn next.

14. Cyanide of potassium, strychnine, and arsenic are all acceptable answers.

15. It is named after Gabriel Daniel Fahrenheit, the German physicist who invented it.

For the full list of questions and answers, check out Paleofuture's article about the test on Gizmodo.

[h/t Smithsonian]

Why is North Always Up on Maps?

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iStock/Princessdlaf

Geophysicists recently updated the World Magnetic Model—navigational data used for everything from cell phones to satellites—and found that magnetic north, a spot once located in Arctic Canada, is moving quickly toward Siberia. But even this discovery doesn't quite explain why maps always feature north at the top.

There’s nothing inherently upward about north. Some early Egyptian maps put south on top, while in medieval Europe, Christian cartographers tended to give that distinction to east, since you had to turn that way to face Jerusalem. Others placed east on top because of the rising Sun (that’s why we orient ourselves). And early American settlers sometimes used maps with west on top, because that was the direction they were often heading.

If anyone deserves the blame for today’s northward bias, it’s Claudius Ptolemy. In the 2nd century, he wrote the influential Geographia, which featured a “global” map with north on top. No one’s positive why he positioned it that way, but it may be that the Library of Alexandria—where he did his research—simply didn’t have much information on the Southern Hemisphere. During the Renaissance, Ptolemy’s work was revived. By then, the phenomenon of magnetic north had been discovered, making his layout even more appealing to mapmakers.

The magnetic north pole, however, was not located until 1831. On an otherwise disastrous expedition to Arctic, British explorer James Clark Ross discovered the pole—the spot where a compass needle on a horizontal axis points straight down—on the west coast of Canada's Boothia peninsula. "I must leave it to others to imagine the elation of mind with which we found ourselves now at length arrived at this great object of our ambition," Ross recalled. "Nothing now remained for us but to return home and be happy for the rest of our days."

This story was originally published in 2014.

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