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As It Was: Horses Plunge through Ice of Upper Klamath Lake

Travelers in the early 1900s encountered many challenges and hazards in the rugged terrain of the Klamath Basin.

Steep mountains and broad lakes and marshes made it difficult to build and maintain good roads, especially during winter months.  It was easier for Klamath settlers to travel by water than by land.  When lakes froze solid, journeying across the ice proved to be a convenient alternative, but thin spots were a constant danger.

A Klamath Falls livery stable operator, Calvin Clendenning, crossed the frozen surface of Upper Klamath Lake one day in January 1919.  Pulled in a sleigh by two horses, he arrived at a logging camp on the west side of the lake near the community of Odessa.  On the return trip, he had barely got underway when his horses plunged through thin ice and Clendenning jumped from the sleigh just in time to avoid drowning.  He hurried back to seek assistance at the logging camp, but they found there was no way to save the valuable animals.

Clendenning told the local newspaper he was lucky to be alive.


Sources: "Team Is Lost Thru the Ice in Upper Lake." Evening Herald, 9 Jan. 1919 [Klamath Falls, Ore.], p. 1. Accessed 23 Nov. 2018.

Todd Kepple has been a Klamath Basin resident since 1990. He was a reporter and editor the for the Herald and News from 1990 to 2005, and has been manager of the Klamath County Museum since 2005. He enjoys volunteering at Crater Lake National Park, the OC&E Woods Line State Trail, and the Pacific Crest Trail. He is also a founding member of the Klamath Tree League.