Picture stories

Mount St. Helens: Reader Memories

Compiled for the 30th anniversary of Mount St. Helens’ eruption, a selection of reader memories that tell the tale of that day.

Related story: A look at Mount St. Helens 35 years after eruption


Barbara Greer

Vehicle maintenance: Following a thorough dusting of volcanic ash, Barbara Greer Richards cleans off the family car at 2607 W. Dean Ave.


Sometime around early afternoon I got a phone call from the head of maintenance wondering why I didn’t go to work that day. I told my boss I understood we were to stay off the roads for the foreseeable future. He said, ‘Who do you think is going to clean this place?’

Terry Hontz, Spokane

Betty Ehr

Ash cloud cover: A friend of Betty Ehr took this photo from the rest area between Lewiston and Othello on May 18, 1980.


Jogging within view of the eruption
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Ralph Thomas Cole Newport, WA

Ron Cauvel

Aftermath: Ron Cauvel points out the height of the mud flow near Toutle Lake, Wash.


When it was all dark and eerie because Mount St. Helens had erupted, our neighbor went out on the porch and howled like a coyote. We thought that was very appropriate and added to the weirdness.

Don and Lois Bender, Spokane

Willard Pennell

The climactic moment: Mount St. Helens reaches critical mass and erupts.


Working as a mechanic in Ritzville
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Mike Dorman Deer Lake area

It seemed like a good idea at the time
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Mary Pierce

Jan Schuerman

Boys will be boys: Nicholas Schuerman, 2, is allowed to play outside in Mead after the eruption but only when wearing a mask. “The kids were so desperate to play outside, so we relented,” wrote his mother, Jan Schuerman.


On the road near the Lincoln County line
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Vivian Turner

Vicki Flume

Here comes the ash: Terry Flume, center, and Vicki Flume, not pictured, were married in Spokane six days after Mount St. Helens blew. The groom’s party took officials’ warnings as inspiration for a posed photo.


The ‘new’ Black Bird was moved into its hangar along with many other planes. The announcement came on that the air show was canceled and everyone should leave immediately. My husband’s first thought was that a war was imminent.

Kate Wendell, Coeur d’Alene

Barry Johnston

In memory: Geology graduate student Jim Fitzgerald was on a mountain six miles from Mount St. Helens when the volcano erupted. He was killed in the blast, and his Datsun was discovered five days later.


Joyce Deitz

Few takers: “The picture is of my husband Leroy, who had a great sense of humor and put the sign on our front gate on the South Hill,” writes Joyce Deitz, of Spokane.


Gene Rosa

Ominous signs: A dark cloud of ash approaches Pullman on May 18, 1980.


The show started out great, but as the night wore on, the ash began to take its toll on everything. … The singers’ voices tanked, guitars wouldn’t stay in tune and other fun stuff, but The Wheel finished the show to a very happy but gray crowd.

Jim Christensen, Spokane

Turned away from the road to Fairchild
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Mary McCauliffe Spokane

Sam Richart

Surprise, Honey. “Mount St. Helens blew one day before our first wedding anniversary. My wife said I didn’t have to do anything that big ever again for our anniversary,” writes Sam Richart.


A near brush with St. Helens
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Leonard Rist Cheney

A visit to Yakima
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Dee Ross Coeur d’Alene

I finally pulled into my apartment parking lot and headed to my apartment. My roommates and I decided that we should walk to the local Dismores and stock up on college essentials: beer and toilet paper.

Jay W. Scott, Irvine, Calif.

Willard Pennell

Even the dogs were wearing masks in Farmington, Wash., after the dust arrived.


Marilyn Fleenor

Garden variety: Howard Fleenor tries to clean up ash on his Latah Valley property May, 20 1980.

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