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As It Was: First White Woman Reaches Crater Lake Water

Born in 1846, Annie Gaines loved the outdoors, and no obstacle seemed too great for her when she wanted adventure.

In 1865, Gaines lived at Fort Klamath where her brother-in-law, Maj. W.V. Rinehart, was commander.  Annie was known as an intelligent, kind and generous person who admired the beauty of nature and the Klamath landscapes.  She was an expert horseback rider and rode almost daily through the evergreen groves. 

Nineteen-year-old Gaines accompanied Rinehart and some of his soldiers in descending an almost vertical 1,000-foot drop down to the shoreline of Crater Lake.  Mrs. O. T. Brown also made the descent, but Gaines reached the water first, claiming to be the first white woman to do so.

A few years later, Gaines moved with the Rinehart family to Salem, where she finished her schooling and married Augustus Schwatka, the brother of Arctic explorer Frederick Schwatka.  The couple had two children, but Gaines died just a few days after the second child was born.

Crater Lake National Park named Annie Creek and Annie Springs after Annie Gaines.

Sources: “Annie Malissa Schwatka." Salem Pioneer Cemetery, Weekly Oregon Statesman, 11 Feb. 1876, www.salempioneercemetery.org/records/pf_display_record.php?id=682. Accessed 9 May 2018; McArthur, Lewis A. "Oregon Geographic Names.", Rapples, www.rapples.com/oregon/OGN/ogn-16.html. Accessed 9 May 2018; Eifert, Larry. "Firsts." Smith Brothers Chronology of Crater Lake, 1981, larryeifert.com/craterlakefoundation.org/cultural./smiths-chronology-1981.html. Accessed 10 May 2018; LaPlante, Margaret. Image of America Crater Lake National Park. Charleston, SC, Arcadia Publishing, 2013, p. 13.

Luana (Loffer) Corbin graduated from Southern Oregon College, majoring in Elementary Education.  The summer after graduation she was hired to teach at Ruch Elementary, where she taught for 32 years. After retiring, Corbin worked for Lifetouch School Photography and then returned to Ruch as an aide helping with reading instruction and at the library.  More recently, she has volunteered at South Medford High.