<<The Old Man of the Lake is the name given to a 30-foot tall tree stump, most likely a hemlock, which has been bobbing vertically in Oregon's Crater Lake since at least 1896. At the waterline, the stump is about 2 feet in diameter and stands approximately 4 feet above the water. The surface has been bleached white by the elements. The exposed end of the floating tree is splintered and worn but wide and buoyant enough to support a person's weight.
, a moss that is present in the waters of Crater Lake at a depth of 394 feet, also grows on the Old Man of the Lake, the only place the moss is found near the surface.
Joseph S. Diller published the first geology of Crater Lake in 1902, the same year the area became a national park. In his work, Diller briefly describes a great stump in the lake that he had found six years earlier. Thus, in 1896, The Old Man floated just as it does at present, giving it a documented age of more than one hundred years.
Movements of The Old Man have long been observed. In 1896, Diller established that The Old Man could travel, by tying baling wire around the log and pulling it a short distance. Five years later, Diller observed the Old Man to be 0.25 miles from where he had previously noted its location. The earliest known photograph of the trunk dates to this period.
As the result of an inquiry from Washington, D.C. as to its precise location, the project of recording The Old Man's location was undertaken between July 1 and September 30, 1938. Those observations indicated that The Old Man of Crater Lake travels quite extensively, and sometimes with surprising rapidity. Since it can be seen virtually anywhere on the lake, boat pilots commonly communicate its position to each other as a general matter of safety. During one three-month period of observation in 1938, The Old Man traveled at least 62.1 miles. Not surprisingly, the days on which the greatest movements occurred were days of relatively high wind and waves. In 1988, submarine explorations were conducted in the lake, and the scientists decided to tie The Old Man off the eastern side of Wizard Island to neutralize the navigational hazard until their research work was complete.>>