Volcano Property on East Lake, Oregon

Geological History

Mount Newberry's big blast occurred over 250,000 years ago. It created a crater almost 3,000 feet deep and 5 miles across. After the initial eruptions, many followed, causing the caldera to be divided into two lakes. Archaeologists believe that Native Americans have used the area intermittently for over 12,000 years. A major eruptive phase occurred around 6,000 years ago and caused numerous lava flows. Nowhere in the United States are there more examples of different types of volcanic activity in such a relatively small area.

    . . . from the Newberry National Volcanic Monument Website, 2000

    "Before the Ice Age, Mount Newberry formed as a shield volcano, the highest point of the Paulina Mountains, set apart from the Cascade Range to the west. This peak may have reached a height of ten thousand feet before it collapsed to form a crater. Today, the highest point of the crater is 7,897 foot Paulina Peak.

    Native Americans were living in Central Oregon when the last volcanic action occurred about 600 A.D. The first recorded visit by whites to the Newberry Crater area was in 1826, when Peter Skene Ogden, a Hudson's Bay trapper, led his party west.

    Newberry Crater is named for Dr. John Strong Newberry, a physician and naturalist, who accompanied the 1855 Topographic Corps Expedition, mapping future railroad routes. Paulina Peak is named for a Snake Indian chief who led raiding parties against white settlers in the 1850s and 1860s.

    The Big Obsidian Flow, created 1,300 years ago, covers 700 acres. The black, shiny obsidian field is easily accessible from good roads or a new trail that traverses the flow.

    More than 400 cinder cones and fissure vents have been identified on the flanks of Newberry. Few other volcanoes in the world contain so many."[1]

Geothermal Energy

    . . . from the Deschutes National Forest Website, 2001

    "The Deschutes National Forest is one of the few national forests with potential for geothermal energy development. Such potential offers a great economic opportunity for the area, while providing a long-term renewable energy resource.

    Geologically young volcanoes found in our area suggest that central Oregon may contain some of the best prospects for geothermal exploration in the continental United States. One study done at Newberry Volcano estimated the energy potential to be up to 13,000 megawatts. Another study by Bonneville Power Administration estimates a 16,000 megawatt potential."[2]
In 1989, a bill was introduced into the US Congress to create the Newberry National Volcanic Monument and thereby cement the ban on geothermal development within the caldera. In June 1994, federal agencies made a decision to implement the Newberry Geothermal Pilot Project. They gave approval to CalEnergy to drill test wells outside the caldera. That project was unsuccessful and they subsequently ceased operations. Currently, there are two companies drilling geothermal exploratory wells outside the northwest flanks of the Monument in hopes of using "hydro shearing technology."

     Geo Coordinates for Volcano Property

  • Property: Latitude 43.72N and Longitude 121.21W (Elev. 6366 ft)
  • Newberry Crater Caldera: Latitude 43.72N and Longitude 121.24W (Elev. 6530 ft)

The Property

. . .during the Forties and Fifties

During the years after the Great Depression, Lloyd Williamson and his wife, Clare, explored Newberry Crater. In order to access the block pumice, they staked four mining claims totaling 640 acres, under the mining law of 1872. The federal government had established that law to encourage miners to develop natural resources on federal land. To keep the area from being developed, a group of people formed an opposition group. They convinced Congress to pass a law in 1946 which banned further mining claims within the crater. However, that law did not address the Williamson's four claims.

. . .during the Sixties and Seventies

Lloyd and Clare Williamson developed their business, Cascade Pumice, after World War II. The business was sold to Boise Cascade in 1958. That was the year Lloyd died after falling from a loading conveyer at a Bend pumice mine. In 1961, Clare Williamson applied for a patent on the four claims in order to assume ownership. That was the beginning of a lengthy and costly legal battle for the widow.

Over the next 18 years, Clare Williamson fought the government in numerous administrative hearings. The Forest Service insisted her claims were invalid because it would not be economically feasible to extract pumice from them.

In 1967, she was joined by Jim Miller, a young mining engineer in Portland who was asked to testify on her behalf at a hearing. He, and some friends, agreed to back Mrs. Williamson's claims and pay the legal fees. In return, they received a purchase option on the land, if they could get the claim patented. They mined a large quantity of pumice and validated the claim.

A federal hearings examiner ruled in 1979, that one of the claims was valid. That claim consisted of 157 acres on the west shore of East Lake. After more than thirty years, Clare Williamson and her supporters finally had a favorable ruling.

. . .during the Eighties

Clare Williamson patented the property on November 1, 1980. Shortly after that, in accordance with the agreement, she sold it to the LaPine Pumice Company, of which Mr. Miller and another Portland man, Frederick Weber, were the general partners.

In the early eighties, the LaPine Pumice Company developed a plan for a geothermal project on the floor of the central pumice cone that would be hidden from view. It seemed like a win-win solution since it would provide jobs and substantial tax revenue for Deschutes County, and the state and federal governments. It also would've helped reduce dependence on foreign oil, by using renewable resources, while having little impact on the environment or the natural setting.

But their plans for energy development were thwarted. In the 1980s, county, state and federal authorities stymied virtually every attempt the owners made to develop their property. While the property was considered possibly the best site in the United States for a geothermal well, the owners were consistently kept from exploring the geothermal energy possibility.

There was opposition from a group of environmentalists. In 1985, an ordinance prohibiting geothermal development within the caldera was approved by the Deschutes County Board of Commissioners. Since Mr. Miller and Mr. Weber were the only ones with private land in the caldera, they were the only ones affected by the law. They felt that the actions of the commissioners evidenced a bias against their project. One of the commissioners was Larry Tuttle who stated, "We chose to exclude the caldera of the crater based on what I considered to be the overwhelming testimony that the other values of that area were far greater than any anticipated geothermal development."[3] Mr. Tuttle went on to become the Oregon Director of The Wilderness Society. The Monument Committee, which was set up in 1989 to help create the National Monument, was chaired by Stu Garrett, a locally renowned environmentalist.

Both Mr. Miller and Mr. Weber passed away in 2009, feeling they had not been treated fairly. Today, there still remains a growing national need for clean, non-imported, renewable energy.

. . .recent years   1990 - 2014

In 1988, LaPine Pumice changed its name to LPP Resources Limited Partnership. Today the property is still owned by LPP Resources and is known as "The Volcano Property on East Lake." The oldest sons of the deceased Mr. Miller and Mr. Weber are now the General Partners.

The Volcano Property on East Lake is currently being used as a private campground by the owners and their guests. There are beachfront and hillside campsites, a comfortable cabin and a bunkhouse.

    1 Newberry National Volcanic Monument Website, Deschutes National Forest, 2000
    2 USFS Deschutes National Forest Website, February 2001
    3 The Bend Bulletin, March 25, 1990

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Fritz Weber, Copyright 2012