Oregon’s Lost Lake Performs Disappearing Act

There are close to 6,150 lakes and reservoirs in the state of Oregon, but none are quite as fascinating the famous Lost Lake. Located in Oregon’s Willamette National Forest, Lost Lake is one of Oregon’s biggest mysteries. For as long as anyone can remember, the water has been continuously filling up the lake and draining down a six-foot wide hole close to the start of summer every year.

While many may not understand what happens to the lake when it performs its annual disappearing act, there is simple scientific explanation for it all. People should really be questioning where the water goes when it disappears.

So, what is this simple, scientific explanation for what happens to the lake when it disappears? Around late spring, every year, the Lost Lake starts to go dry up. The water starts to drain down a huge hole that scientists have discovered is a collapsed lava tube. The tube was created by lava during a volcanic eruption. The surface of the lava that is flowing cools, but the lava beneath it is hotter and continues to flow. Once it flows out, it may leave a tunnel, or hole, like the one seen at Lost Lake.

When the seasons change, the water starts to return to the lake. The reason water remains in the lake during the winter is because the rate that the water fills the lake is faster than the rate at which it drains. Apparently, locals have made attempts at plugging the hole, but were not successful. If anyone were to succeed at plugging the hole, it would lead to floods caused by the lake overflowing.

Lost Lake is not the only lake in Oregon that is drained every year. Just a few miles away from Lost Lake, Fish Lake can be found. Fish Lake also fills up during the winter and drains, then turning into a meadow. It is suspected that when the water drains it heads to an underground aquifer. That may be true, but until someone can prove this theory, where the water from Lost Lake goes will remain a mystery.