The Story Behind the “Old Man of the Lake” at Crater Lake

Crater Lake is a volcanic crater lake in south-central Oregon and the main feature of Crater Lake National Park. Famous for its deep blue color and water clarity, Crater Lake contains a 30-foot mountain hemlock log that has floated vertically and continuously since 1896. The stump, which rises about 3 feet above the water has been dubbed “Old Man of the Lake” after being carbon-dated to more than 450 years old. The physics of the stump’s upright stance remains a mystery, as do his seemingly random travels across the surface of the lake. The commonly held belief is that because the lower part of the tree stump has been in cold water for over 100 years, its density has increased, making the Old Man buoyant and balanced. Moving freely, it can be virtually anywhere on the lake, so boat captains commonly communicate its position for safety.