A recent survey asked some locals about their favorite place to take visitors. Some said the mountains or the beach but no one mentioned Lake Crescent. This is unfortunate since this beautiful body of water has played such a large role in making Clallam County what it is today.
There are two theories on exactly how Lake Crescent was formed. Either by the Cordilleran Ice Sheet that covered the area until about 14,000 years ago or by a landslide sent from the top of Mt. Storm King by the evil giant Seatco that ended a three day battle between the Clallam and the Quileute and dammed the Lyre River forming Lake Crescent.
Lake Crescent was said to have remained uninhabited. It was haunted by Seatco. Recent archaeological surveys have determined Lake Crescent was home to Native Americans as evidenced by the large numbers of cedar trees that bear the scars of having the bark, which was used for clothing, stripped off them.
In 1849, two Hudson Bay trappers paddled their canoe from Victoria, across the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Crescent Beach where they were adopted by the S’Klallams. From there they worked south into the foothills of the Olympics where they discovered Lake Crescent.
Trappers are generally secretive. They don’t want to give away their best hunting ground. Lake Crescent remained largely undiscovered until the summer of 1895 when the U.S. Navy Pacific Fleet under the command of Rear Admiral Leslie A.Beardslee dropped anchor in Port Angeles harbor. What was an isolated frontier town welcomed the Navy with open arms.
Admiral Beardslee was a fisherman. Wanting to make a good impression the city fathers wisely took the Admiral on a fishing trip to Lake Crescent where he caught 350 trout in one day! The Admiral spent so much time fishing at Lake Crescent they named a trout after him. The Beardslee trout, named after the Admiral and the Crescenti, named after the lake are unique species that occur only in Lake Crescent.
E.B. Webster in his classic book, “Fishing in the Olympics” describes the Beardslee striking a lure at 25 miles an hour, peeling hundreds of feet of line while jumping six or seven feet in the air. Webster saw a fight between a Tacoma angler with light tackle and an eleven-pound Beardslee that lasted for three hours and forty-five minutes!
Eventually, a dozen fishing resorts popped up around the shores of Lake Crescent trying to catch the Admiral’s fish. In 1912 Dr. Louis Dechman built a health spa resort on the North Shore of the lake called, “Eugenika, Goddess of the Better Race Sanatorium and Biological Institution.” The name was later shortened to “Qui Si Sana,” or, “Here is Health.”
Dr. Deckman was a promoter who claimed he could cure influenza, tuberculosis and childhood paralysis. Some of the locals said he cured bored housewives with something called Bio-Therapy. This involved the complex process of ‘cleansing the blood,’ whatever that meant.
The English writer Fitzherbert Leather described the strenuous health regime at Qui Si Sana, breathing plenty of ozone rich air with seven course gourmet meals and fine wines served in the luxurious main hall and healthful walks through the fabulous gardens and orchards filled with statues exhibiting themes of breast feeding and female pulchritude at its finest.
Sadly, Qui Si Sana did not last. Only two of the historic Lake Crescent resorts survive to the present. Lake Crescent Lodge was originally Singers’ Tavern. That’s where Franklin Roosevelt stayed when he toured the Peninsula in 1937 to consider the creation of Olympic National Park. In 1938 the Park was dedicated at the nearby Rosemary Inn, which has been restored as the Olympic Park Institute. Lake Crescent is not only a beautiful place, it has a lot of history for such a small area which makes it a great place to take a visitor.