The first commercial resort at East Lake was built in 1915 as East Lake Health Resort. It was built on the southeast shore of East Lake, near the natural hot sulfur springs. Hot water for the bath house was siphoned from the spring and access to the resort was via a primitive road that climbed up the Caldera from the east side.
The original resort had only four cabins and a small bath house but there were plans to build a larger hotel. The resort burned in 1923 and from there the history of the site is unclear. Some documents indicate the US Forest Service cleared the area in 1924, while others indicate a final attempt at a health spa before the site was abandoned.
In 1942 George and Margaret McCormack purchased the rights to the health spa for $3,000 and began with development of buildings at the current 6,400 foot elevation site. In 1952 fire again struck the resort. As an employee filled gallon glass jugs of gasoline, sparks ignited a fire in the boat house. That winter 40 wooden boats were rebuilt in the attic of what is now The Johnson and Masterson Hardware store in Bend in an attempt to replace the 70 boats that were lost. One of those boats can still be viewed on the property and sits in front of the boat house.
Ownership has changed hands numerous times since 1952:
1955 Milt and Abel John Clark, 1976 Robert and Doris Saling, 1979 Al and Camille Nesbitt, 1989 John and Leslie Hofferd, 1996 Gary and Debbie Hill, 2002 James and Melanie Vogelpohl, 2006 David and Kathy Jones, 2014 Bruce Bronson and Rob and Sandy Morrison.
New docks have been installed, aluminum boats have replaced the wooden boats, tent cabins have been replaced by enclosed cabins, wiring has gone underground, an RV park has been constructed and dorm style rooms have been made into motel style rooms.
The current owners, Bruce Bronson and Rob and Sandy Morrison, have owned East Lake Resort since March 2014. They are dedicated to continuing the traditions of hospitality and great fishing. East Lake remains a hidden gem in Central Oregon. It is a place with generations of family history, a new found fishing hole, or perhaps one of the last retreats to get away from it all. Whatever the reason, East Lake Resort invites you to make us your new tradition.
History of Fishing at East Lake
East Lake itself covers an area of 2 square miles and has a maximum depth of 170ft. Although there is no visible outlet, water drains westward underground and early descriptions of both Paulina and East Lakes indicated an abundance of aquatic life but no native trout. In the book Paulina Preferred, author James Link describes how fish were introduced into both locations:
“In 1912, a group from the La Pine Commercial Club displayed interest in stocking the lakes. Later that summer the Oregon Game Commission shipped red fingerlings in 10 gallon containers to Bend which were then hauled by four-horse wagon and horse-back to Paulina Lake. Half of the fry were planted in Paulina Lake while the other half were put in live boxes, towed across lake, then carried in 5 gallon Kerosene cans cross-country to East Lake.”
Today, East Lake is a premier fishing lake that is stocked annually by the Oregon Department Fish and Wildlife. Four types of fish are now available for harvest including Brown, Kokanee and two strains of Rainbow trout. Brook trout and Atlantic salmon can also occasionally be found. Each year 10,000 legal sized trout are normally stocked in mid-May with an additional stocking in mid-summer.
Prehistoric People in Newberry Caldera
Human occupation of the caldera goes back at least 9,000 years as evidenced by a recent discovery of one of the oldest human dwellings in North America. Found on the shores of Paulina Lake less than five miles away, scientists believe it was part of a summer encampment occupied by the Windust people. These mobile hunter-gatherers lived in the region as early as 11,000 years ago and were some of the earliest inhabitants of North America. A variety of tools, food remnants and other artifacts found indicate that they may have hunted bison, rabbit, bear, sheep, deer and elk. Their encampment was buried under volcanic ash from the massive eruption of Mt. Mazama about 7,500 years ago. This eruption was several times larger than the 1980 explosion at Mt. St. Helens and is the same eruption that formed what is now Crater Lake. Although Newberry Crater is about 50 miles from Mt. Mazama, it was nonetheless buried under at least two feet of volcanic ash.
More recently, the region may have been used by Klamath, Tenino, Paiute, Mollala, Cayuse, Nez Perce and Umatilla tribes. Obsidian, a kind of natural glass, was an important resource for early inhabitants of the region. It has historically been fashioned into cutting tools and arrow heads. High quality obsidian from Newberry Caldera was traded throughout the northwest and even into Mexico and Canada.