Old man of the lake: log that has been breaking laws of physics for 100 years

The locals still “remember” the volcanic eruption 7,700 years ago – and tell about this event in their own way, in the tribal legends. The Indians are silent about the origin of the “old man of the lake,” who has been guarding the blue waters of Crater for more than a century.

Maybe they do not know, and maybe they do not want to anger the old man, as it has happened before: coincidence or not, the lake researchers have already felt the “anger” of the wooden long-man.

Crater Lake

In Oregon, we are talking about Crater Lake, located in the western part of the North American continent. The lake is interesting in many ways, even unique–it fills a caldera that was formed by a volcanic eruption and is the deepest in the United States. No river flows into the Crater, no river flows out. The water, however, is constantly renewed by evaporation from the surface and precipitation in the form of snow and rain. A complete renewal takes place every 250 years.

Despite the fact that the eruption of the Mazama volcano occurred in the 6th millennium BC, during excavations under a layer of ash, tools and other objects created by man were found. That is, at that time, people were already inhabiting the area of the future Crater Lake. And the beliefs of the Indian people of Klamath preserved the story of how, as a result of the battle of the gods, the mountain was destroyed, and in its place, a blue lake with crystal clear water appeared.

Allegedly, the god of the underworld, Llao, once fell in love with the daughter of a tribal leader, but received a refusal from the girl and her family – the lover living underground was too ugly. Fearing for his daughter, the leader turned to the god of the “upper” world, Skell, to protect the tribe from the wrath of Llao. Then the battle broke out, in which Mount Mazama was crushed. The defeated Llao was banished back to his dark world, and on the site of a huge pit, gaping in the place of the battle of the gods, Skell created a beautiful lake.

Old Man of the Lake

The existence of the log was recorded by geologist Diller in 1896, but when it appeared in the lake is unknown.
The existence of the log was recorded by geologist Diller in 1896, but when it appeared in the lake is unknown.

On the other hand, Geologists say that the bottom of Crater Lake is still not “calm,” and new shocks from the underworld are still possible. So don’t discount the defeated Llao. Perhaps it is his “confidant” who is the famous “Old Man of the Lake” – who really is not young at all. Legends are legends, but the log, which has been floating upright in the lake for a long time, raises many questions even among scientists.

The “old man” was first described in 1902 by Joseph Diller, a geologist who first noticed a strange floating stump six years earlier. The lake was being studied at the time in connection with the organization of a national park in the area.

Among other things, Diller noticed that the “stump” had shifted almost half a kilometer over the years. It turned out that in the waters of Lake Crater, vertically floating log with a diameter of about 60 centimeters and a length of about 9 meters, the size of the surface is 1.2 meters.

The wood – probably hemlock – can easily support a person standing on it. The surface of the log is white, sunburned from decades or maybe centuries of drifting in the waters of the lake. In 1938, during the summer period (from July 1 to September 30), observations of the “old man” were made: it turned out that despite the lack of currents in the lake, and even in windless weather, the log moves long distances, “passing” up to five kilometers a day (the size of Kreiter lake is about 8 by 9.7 kilometers).

The wood – probably hemlock – can easily support a person standing on it
The wood – probably hemlock – can easily support a person standing on it

What Scientists Say About the “Old Man”

Scientists say the tree was most likely washed into the lake by a landslide, and the roots were unharmed. Perhaps there were a lot of jammed rocks among them, which kept the lower part of the log underwater. Gradually, the upper part dried out, while the lower part, on the contrary, became denser from the long exposure to water, and even when the stones finally fell to the bottom, the log remained upright. Radiocarbon analysis showed that the tree was at least 450 years old.

The “old man” moving around the lake quite actively poses some threat for boats and vessels. So when submersibles studied the bottom of Crater Lake in 1988, the “old man” was temporarily isolated – attached to the east shore of the local Wizards Island.

As soon as the log was tied up, a storm broke out, making research impossible. When, sometime later, it snowed – despite the fact that it was August – they preferred to let the “old man of the lake” go free. The weather cleared up immediately.

For the locals, the incident did not cause a sensation – there are old beliefs that the “old man” governs, among other things, the weather over the lake. The log remains a tourist attraction, feeling quite comfortable in the cold water of the Crater. Due to the special purity and transparency of the water – it can be seen up to 37 meters deep – the log can be seen in its entirety.

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