Summer Lake (Oregon)
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Summer Lake is a large, shallow, alkali lake in Lake County,
Oregon Oregon () is a U.S. state, state in the Pacific Northwest region of the Western United States. The Columbia River delineates much of Oregon's northern boundary with Washington (state), Washington, while the Snake River delineates much of it ...

Oregon
,
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
located south of the small,
unincorporated Unincorporated may refer to: * Unincorporated area Sign at Heinola, an unincorporated community in Otter Tail County, Minnesota.">Minnesota.html" ;"title="Otter Tail County, Minnesota">Otter Tail County, Minnesota. An unincorporated area is ...
community of Summer Lake, Oregon. At high water it is about long and wide, and supports a wide variety of birds and other wildlife in its marshes. The lake was named by explorer John C. Fremont on his expedition into
Central Oregon Central Oregon is a geographic region in the U.S. state In the , a state is a , of which there are currently 50. Bound together in a , each state holds al jurisdiction over a separate and defined geographic territory where it shares its ...

Central Oregon
in 1843.


Ancient Lake Chewaucan

The arid lands around Summer Lake were once lush. During the
Pleistocene The Pleistocene ( , often referred to as the ''Ice Age'') is the geological Epoch (geology), epoch that lasted from about 2,580,000 to 11,700 years ago, spanning the earth’s most recent period of repeated glaciations. Before a change finally ...
Epoch, vast areas of this region of south central Oregon were covered by
lake A lake is an area filled with water, localized in a basin, surrounded by land Land is the solid surface of Earth that is not permanently submerged in water. Most but not all land is situated at elevations above sea level (variable ove ...

lake
s and
wetlands A wetland is a distinct ecosystem that is flooded by water, either permanently (for years or decades) or seasonally (for weeks or months). Flooding results in oxygen-free (Anoxic waters, anoxic) processes prevailing, especially in the soils. ...
. As the last ice age was ending, rain and runoff from melting snow filled the lowlands throughout this region of the
Great Basin The Great Basin ( es, Gran Cuenca) is the largest area of contiguous endorheic watersheds – those with no outlets – in North America North America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Gene ...
, creating an immense, freshwater lake called Lake Chewaucan. The lake covered at depths of up to ."Ancient Lakes", Oregon Historical Marker, Summer Lake, Oregon. Lake Chewaucan covered the Summer Lake basin and drainage system much of the late Pleistocene. The last high water period is thought to have occurred about 13,000 years ago. There is archaeological evidence of human use of Lake Chewaucan during this time. The oldest known human remains in the Western Hemisphere come from the
Paisley Caves The Paisley Caves complex is a system of four cave A cave or cavern is a natural void in the Earth#Surface, ground, specifically a space large enough for a human to enter. Caves often form by the weathering of rock and often extend deep undergr ...
, wave-cut caves currently 10 miles southwest from Summer Lake. Lake Chewaucan began to dry up at the close of the Pleistocene. As it shrank, salts and alkali were concentrated in its remaining waters. The exposed lake bottom sediments were blown by the prevailing westerly winds to form the sand dunes that still lie on the east side of Summer Lake. Today, Summer Lake and
Abert Lake Lake Abert (also known as Abert Lake) is a large, shallow, alkali lake in Lake County, Oregon, Lake County, Oregon, United States. It is approximately long and wide at its widest point. It is located northeast of the small, unincorporated commu ...
are separated by and are the only remnants of Lake Chewaucan. At high water, Summer Lake is about long and wide; however, water levels fluctuate dramatically, and sometimes the lake is almost dry in summer. The main source of fresh water is the small spring-fed
Ana River The Ana River is a short spring-fed river in south-central Oregon. It is on the northwestern edge of the Great Basin drainage. It flows from springs at the foot of Winter Ridge through High Desert (Oregon), high desert, rangeland, range, and w ...
, which is used for irrigation.Witty, Jim
"Ana River"
''The Bulletin'', Bend Oregon, 5 January 2007.


Fremont expedition

Summer Lake was spotted and named by Captain during his 1843 mapping expedition through central Oregon. Fremont and his Army topographical team were mapping the
Oregon Territory The Territory of Oregon was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from August 14, 1848, until February 14, 1859, when the southwestern portion of the territory was admitted to the United States, Union as the Orego ...
from
The Dalles The Dalles is the largest city of Wasco County Wasco County is one of the Oregon counties, 36 counties in the U.S. state of Oregon. As of the 2010 United States Census, 2010 census, the population was 25,213. Its county seat is The Dalles ...
on
Columbia River The Columbia River (Upper Chinook Upper Chinook, endonym Kiksht, also known as Columbia Chinook, and Wasco-Wishram after its last surviving dialect, is a recently extinct language of the US Pacific Northwest. It had 69 speakers in 1990, of w ...

Columbia River
to
Sutter's Fort Sutter's Fort was a 19th-century agricultural and trade colony in the Mexican ''Alta California'' province.National Park Service"California National Historic Trail."/ref> The site of the fort was established in 1839 and originally called New Helve ...
in
Sacramento, California ) , image_map = Sacramento County California Incorporated and Unincorporated areas Sacramento Highlighted.svg , mapsize = 250x200px , map_caption = Location within Sacramento ...

Sacramento, California
. On 16 December 1843, the expedition struggled down a steep cliff from a snow-covered plateau to reach a large lake in the valley below. Fremont named the snow-covered rim "Winter Ridge" and the temperate waters "Summer Lake." Fremont described the discovery and naming of Summer Lake as follows:


Wildlife refuge

The Summer Lake Basin supports more than 250 species of birds including
bald eagles The bald eagle (''Haliaeetus leucocephalus'') is a bird of prey Birds of prey, also known as raptors, include species of bird Birds are a group of s constituting the Aves , characterised by s, toothless beaked jaws, the of e ...

bald eagles
,
Canada geese The Canada goose (''Branta canadensis'') is a large wild goose A goose (plural geese) is a bird of any of several waterfowl Anseriformes is an order of bird Birds are a group of warm-blooded vertebrates constituting the class ...

Canada geese
, white faced ibis, yellow-headed blackbirds, goshawks, hermit thrushes, red-tail hawks,
great blue herons The great blue heron (''Ardea herodias'') is a large wading bird in the heron family Ardeidae, common near the shores of Body of water, open water and in wetlands over most of North America and Central America, as well as the Caribbean and the ...
, and numerous species of ducks. This makes Summer Lake a favorite
bird watching Birdwatching, or birding, is a form of wildlife observation in which the observation of birds is a recreational activity or citizen science. It can be done with the naked eye, through a visual enhancement device like binoculars and telescopes ...

bird watching
and
hunting Hunting is the practice of seeking, pursuing and capturing or killing wildlife Wildlife traditionally refers to undomesticated animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular A multicellular organism is an organism ...

hunting
area. The
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) is an agency of the state government, government of the U.S. state of Oregon responsible for programs protecting Oregon fish and wildlife resources and their habitats. The agency operates hatch ...
maintains the Summer Lake Wildlife Area on the north side of the lake. The refuge consists of a large
wetland A wetland is a distinct ecosystem An ecosystem (or ecological system) consists of all the organisms and the physical environment with which they interact. These biotic and abiotic components are linked together through nutrient cycles ...

wetland
marsh fed by the Ana River with associated
high desertPlaces * High Desert, Albuquerque, New Mexico, a development in Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States * High Desert (California), an area of Southern California deserts just north of the San Bernardino and Little San Bernardino Mountains. * High Des ...
uplands with an tour route open to the public most of the year. The refuge headquarters is located adjacent to
Oregon Route 31 Oregon Route 31 is a state highway in the U.S. state of Oregon that runs between the Central Oregon cities of La Pine, Oregon, La Pine and Lakeview, Oregon, Lakeview. OR 31 traverses most of the Fremont Highway No. 19 of the Oregon sta ...

Oregon Route 31
in the town of Summer Lake, directly across from the Summer Lake Lodge.


Dust storm

Plumes of Summer Lake dust, lifted by winds of up to , are thought to be responsible for "dirty rain" that fell on February 6, 2015, across parts of three U.S. states: Oregon,
Washington Washington commonly refers to: * Washington (state) Washington (), officially the State of Washington, is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. ...
, and
Idaho Idaho () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in ...

Idaho
. Scientists at
Washington State University Washington State University (Washington State, WSU, or Wazzu) is a public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an individual or an organization An organizat ...

Washington State University
concluded that an unusual combination of weather systems carried the dust up to north and northeast, where it mixed with rain, which turned "milky". Chalky residue coated cars and windows in Hermiston,
Spokane Spokane ( ) is the largest city and county seat of Spokane County, Washington Washington commonly refers to: * Washington (state), United States * Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States ** Federal government of the United States (m ...
, and at least 13 other cities.


See also

* Fremont-Winema National Forests *
List of lakes in Oregon This is a list of the lakes and reservoirs of Oregon. Gallery File:AbertRim-right.jpg, Lake Abert and the Abert Rim File:Applegate Lake Oregon.jpg, Applegate Lake in Jackson County File:Lake Billy Chinook, Deschutes National Forest, Oregon (pho ...


References


External links


Summer Lake Wildlife Refuge

Lake County Oregon's Outback
{{Authority control Lakes of Oregon Wetlands of Oregon Landforms of Lake County, Oregon Lakes of Lake County, Oregon Endorheic lakes of Oregon