The eruption of Mount St. Helens was a major event in the lives of those who lived in the Pacific Northwest. Click here to read firsthand accounts submitted by our readers about how they experienced May 18, 1980.
Mount St. Helens, the once-serene, cone-shaped peak that dominated the skyline northeast of Clark County and stood guard over the beautiful Spirit Lake recreation area, erupted with a force likened to an atom bomb Sunday, killing at least six and leaving 29 missing. The mountain, about 45 miles from Vancouver’s back door, blew at 8:32 a.m. Sunday with an explosion that was heard 200 miles away in Canada but was unheard throughout the Vancouver-Portland area. The blast left the snow-capped mountain about 1,300 feet shorter than it was two days ago, spread death and destruction throughout the Toutle River valley north and west of the mountain and sent a gigantic ash cloud to the east.
There are pictures of Sandy Ford sunbathing atop a snowdrift in her halter top and shorts. And the story of the woodpecker boring into the second floor of the family cabin. Not to mention the unforgettable sight of pre-eruption Mount St. Helens filling the front window. But what the Ford family misses the most are the people they made memories with around Spirit Lake.
Gasoline was expensive. Home mortgage interest rates were stratospheric. “The Dukes of Hazzard” was a top-rated TV show and Burt Reynolds was the number one box office draw. So what exactly do we miss about 1980?
Recollections of May 18, 1980, shared by Columbian readers as part of our 25th anniversary coverage in 2005.