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As It Was: Trail Leads to Mysterious Stone Woman of Crater Lake

Reports of a sculptured stone woman began filtering into Crater Lake National Park headquarters during the winter and spring of 1917. Workers located the figure on the lake’s rim, about a mile and a half from the lodge. The nearly full relief of a nude figure was chiseled out of a lava boulder, its legs bent and one arm over its head as if shielding against danger. The news media reported the discovery with headlines such as “Mummy Woman found in woods” and “Ancient figure of woman discovered.”

The curator of archaeology at a California museum went so far as to speculate that it could be a petrified human body or a lava-filled cavity resulting from mud enveloping the body of a woman.

The mystery was resolved four years later when Dr. Earl Russell Bush, official surgeon for the U.S. Engineers, revealed he was the sculptor. He said he had been stationed at the park in the summer of 1917 and had spent 14 days in October carving the figure. He had pledged his staff to secrecy.

A trail constructed in 1930 leads to the “Lady of the Woods,” where she sleeps surrounded by trees in view of those who can find her.

Sources: "Stone Woman of Crater Lake No Longer Mystery: Carving That Baffled Party From Bay Was Work of Dr. Earl R. Bush." Fresno Bee 23 Oct. 1923. Web. 27 Feb. 2014. <https://www.craterlakeinstitute.com/crater-lake-news/stone-woman-crater-lake.htm>.;Brown, Richard. "The ‘Lady of the Woods’ Revisited." Nature Notes from Crater Lake I (1955). Web. 27 Feb. 2014. <https://www.craterlakeinstitute.com/online-library/nature-notes/vol21-lady-of-woods.htm>.

Dennis M. Powers was a business law attorney with various real estate and business ventures before teaching as a full professor and later professor emeritus at Southern Oregon University in Ashland. He is a graduate of the University of Colorado (b.a.), the University of Denver Law School (j.d.), and Harvard Business School (m.b.a.).