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Aerial photo of a rocky island in a tranquil lake.

The Ghost Ship-Island: A Good Place To Think About


Floating in a volcanic crater, the Phantom Ship is a small island in the form of a ghost ship.

Oregon is an unusually beautiful and strange place. It has the highest reading rates in the US, a vast collection of myths and legends and one of the most varied ecosystems in the world: high snow-capped mountain peaks, forests, rocky coasts, fertile valleys and volcanic craters. And in one of those volcanic craters there is a very special geological element, a deep cistern of rainwater that was formed as a result of violent eruptions by the Mazama volcano, forming a giant recipient of ash and rock. It was once thought, according to one of the region’s inherent myths, that the lake was bottomless, but it is now calculated to be 1,800ft deep, the country’s deepest. However, its real charm is a phantom ship that navigates quietly and perpetually across the surface of the water.

The “Phantom Ship” is an island that appears to be a ghost ship, but in addition to its nautical form, the figure appears and disappears in the dense fog that swarms across Crater Lake every day; meaning that more than one characteristic makes it phantasmagorical. And although it is about 450ft across and its highest point is about 180ft (16 stories), it is one of the most enchanting geological metaphors in the world. Its unusual form and the temperament of the climate infuse the lake with fiction.

Phantom Ship island is an example of nature imitating both art and a fundamentally literary narrative. Behind the solemn and high fog, the Phantom Ship is a good place to think about.

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