He hopes to see what had been the superintendent's residence, unused for 25 years, converted into the headquarters of the Crater Lake Science and Learning Center. The old naturalist's residence would be living space for visiting scientists.
This summer, the Sinnott Memorial overlook is reopening with $500,000 in new exhibits on geology and history. The nearby Kaiser Photography Studio has been renovated, as has the Community House, where rangers will hold evening campfire talks.
Plans anticipate $8 million in changes, including moving the Rim Village parking back so that cars no longer dominate the view, renovating the cafeteria and gift shop in their original 1928 edifice, and building a two-story visitor center tall enough to see over the snowbanks to the lake beyond in winter.
Because of a winter that lasts from September to June, Crater Lake has been a hardship post. But by the time Buckingham retired after 11 years here, it had become his favorite park.
"As chief ranger, I spent an awful lot of time in the office, with meetings, budgeting, counseling," he said. "And every now and then I'd go up on the rim and say, 'This is why I put up with all of this.' I took care of something really important for a time."