It's not the 'big' 20 or 30 year anniversary, but May 18th will always loom large in the minds of Northwest residents.

It was May 18th 1980 when Mt. St. Helens blew up, becoming the largest eruption of a volcano in the continental US since, well, Mt. Ranier blew smoke and ash back in 1842.   The mountain had, for months, been showing signs of definite activity.  It had been classified as dormant for sometime, but then became 'active'. 

  May 18th, the skies over the Northwest became as dark as dusk,  in the Tri-Cities you could hear the hiss of volcanic ash coming down from the skies.   Ritzville, 80 miles north, was choked with a foot of fine volcanic dust,  cars became undrivable due to the filters being clogged.  We at Newstalk recall family members being 'trapped' in Spokane, as the streets were closed.  They finally were able to come home 3 days later, but had to go east, down through Idaho, and back up through Lewiston-Clarkston to get back.

   Somewhere in our shed out back, is a glass coffee jar full of ash.   Later, many Northwesterners made money from collecting and selling the ash, turning it with clay into sculpture, or just putting it in tiny jars and spinning off for 2-3 bucks a pop.  Imagine if St. Helens erupted today in the internet age...oh my!

  And finally who could forget Harry Truman? The salty old retired 'mountain man' who refused to leave his cabin at the base of the 12,000 plus foot tall peak.  He is forever entombed beneath the acres of ash, dust, rock and debris that forever changed the landscape of the entire Pacific Northwest.

Watch these remarkable videos, including a Seattle television station reporter caught in the ash cloud as he tried to get out of the blast zone.  He survived.  St. Helens still steams and rumbles to this day.

Mount St Helens--what is left
mount st helens

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