Mount St. Helens is most notorious for its catastrophic eruption on May 18, 1980, at 8:32 a.m. It was the deadliest and most economically-destructive volcanic event in the history of the United States. Fifty-seven people were killed; 250 homes, 47 bridges, 15 miles of railways, and 185 miles of highway were destroyed. A massive debris avalanche triggered by an earthquake measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale caused an eruption that reduced the elevation of the mountain's summit from 9,677 feet to 8,363 feet, replacing it with a 1 mile wide horseshoe-shaped crater. The debris avalanche was up to 0.7 cubic miles in volume. The Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument was created to preserve the volcano and allow for its aftermath to be scientifically studied.
From the moment you turn onto the long street that takes you all the way up to Mount St. Helens, the volcano looms over you.
The closer you get, the more she looms.
The drive is beautiful through a national forest.
You finally reach the Johnston Ridge Observatory. The observatory is named after David Johnston (12/18/1949 – 5/18/1980), an American volcanologist who died during the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. Mr. Johnston was a principal scientist on the monitoring team and perished while manning an observation post 6 miles away on the morning of May 18, 1980. He was the first to report the eruption, transmitting, "Vancouver! Vancouver! This is it!" before he was swept away by a lateral blast. Mr. Johnston's remains were never found, but state highway workers discovered remnants of his USGS trailer in 1993.
You can see the little seismic meter at the top.
The National Park Service and the Forest Service do a great job explaining everything about this area to visitors.
You go inside the the visitor center, and watch a movie all about Mount St. Helens. It was a really great movie, and at the end, they raise the curtains in the room for this dramatic view!
The bug enjoys the view too!
Take a look at the photo on the top, before the eruption. Then the below pic is after the eruption. The mountain changed quite a bit after that blast.
Even after 35 years, evidence of Mount St. Helen's fury is still visible.
This dial showed the distance and height of all the mountains in the region.
A memorial to those who perished on that day in 1980.