MOUNT ST. HELENS, Wash. (KOIN) — It was a sight many will never forget — 35 years ago, Mount St. Helens erupted in what became the most destructive volcano in U.S. history. On Monday, Portlanders recalled their most vivid memories from that day.
The eruption on May 18, 1980 demolished the northern flank of the volcano, turning it into a giant landslide. It spewed hot ash, gas and debris into the air, and killed 57 people including Harry Truman, the owner of Mount St. Helens Lodge.
“I have no intention to leave, I never have, and everybody knew it the last 4-5 days,” Truman previously told KOIN 6 News, who was there covering the eruption more than 3 decades ago.
While it was a tragic day for many, for others it’s remembered as an adventure.
“My dad saw that the mountain was erupting and was like, ‘let’s go check it out, let’s go see what was happening. Want to go with me, want to go on a plane ride?'” Tara Bowen-Biggs recalled. “I said, sure.”
Bowen-Biggs was only 11-years-old when Mount St. Helens erupted. Her father, a geologist, took her into the air to capture images of the event.
“When we left Portland it was a sunny day and we when we got there it was completely grey,” she said. “So the photos were taken in color but they are all completely grey.”
Hundreds of homes were damaged or destroyed during the eruption. Animals were killed and millions of trees were wiped out for miles.
Now, 35 years since the monumental event, many wonder if we could expect it to happen again.
“Anyone living in the northwest could expect to see one or two eruptions in their lifetime,” John Ewert with Cascades Volcano Observatory said.
Although some scientists say Mount St. Helens erupts every 125 years, there are a dozen other volcanoes nearby — including Mt. Hood — with explosive potential.
KOIN 6 News employees recall coverage of Mount St. Helens eruption in 1985