The Eruption of Mt. St. Helens

Mt. St. Helens erupted on May 18, 1980. The volcanic event was the deadliest in the history of the United States.

Here are a few postcards showing the beauty and destruction of the mountain before and after.

This first postcard was produced by the Washington State Progress Commission.

Mt. St. Helens and Spirit Lake, Washington
Spirit Lake and Mount St. Helens…Spirit Lake splendid for camping and fishing. Mount St. Helens great for skiing and hiking. Elevation is 9,697.
Sponsored by Washington State Junior Chamber of Commerce with Cooperation of Washington State Progress Commission.
Washington State Invites You to the Year ‘Round Playground.

Here’s a view of Portland, Oregon with Mt. St. Helens looming over the skyline

Portland, Oregon
Here we see Portland from the west with Mt. St. Helens in the background.

Here’s a view of the mountain and Spirit Lake from the 1960s.

Mt St. Helens & Spirit Lake, Washington
Canoeing on lovely Spirit Lake with 9677 foot Mt. St. Helens in background. Located in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in SW Washington. Lake is 42 miles east of Interstate Highway No. 5 at the end of State Highway No. 504.

The eruption:

Mt. St. Helens Eruption - May 18, 1980 - Mt. St. Helens, Washington
Mt. St. Helens erupts with thick smoke raising high above the mountain’s summit. This view shows the newly formed single crater, caused from earthquakes and venting of ash, steam, rock and ice. Although Mt. St. Helens has been dormant for approximately 12 years, it is considered one of the most active volcanoes in the contiguous 48 states during the past 5000 years.
Mt. St. Helens Eruption - May 18, 1980 - Mt. St. Helens, Washington
Mt. St. Helens in Washington rumbled to life May 18, 1980. It continues to steam and seathe with plumes of ash and ice being blown skyward twice as high as the 9,677 mountain itself.
Mt. St. Helens Eruption - May 18, 1980 - Mt. St. Helens, Washington
MT. ST. HELENS, located in southeastern Washington ERUPTS with a boom heard 150 miles in all directions. Ash reaching 63,000 feet in the air blackened the sky of Eastern Washington and points east all the way to the east coast.

Before and after:

Mt. St. Helens Eruption - May 18, 1980 - Mt. St. Helens, Washington
Mt. St. Helens & Yale Lake, before and during the volcanic eruptions. These scenes offer a dramatic comparison – on the left, the mountains majestic beauty is captured and on the right the awesome power of the eruption is visible. The eruption occurred on May 18, 1980, the force blowing 1,300 feet off the top, spreading ash eastward across the continent.

The damage:

Mt. St. Helens Eruption - May 18, 1980 - Mt. St. Helens, Washington
This photo taken after the May 18, 1980 Volcanic eruption shows Spirit Lake and the debris that was deposited along with steam vents in the center and on the lower right you can see new water emerging to possibly recreated this lake once again. This photo shows the north side of the mountain and steam covering the 8400 foot peak.
Mt. St. Helens Eruption - May 18, 1980 - Mt. St. Helens, Washington
Mount St. Helens, located in southwest Washington, began volcanic activity in Spring, 1980 after of a dormant period of 123 years. On May 18, 1980 a major eruption blew approximately 2000 feet off the top of the 9,677 ft. mountain, causing it to fall inwards and forming a crater. Pictured here is the crate that resulted from the eruption. Mt. Rainier can be seen in the background.

And finally, a view of the second eruption that took place on July 22, 1980:

Mt. St. Helens Eruption - July 22, 1980 - Portland, Oregon
Mt. St. Helens, located approximately 50 miles north northeast of Portland, Oregon, ended 6 weeks of silence with a series of 3 eruptions on July 22, 1980.Pictured here is the third eruption – the ash and steam cloud of the earlier eruptions can be seen drifting eastward. The mountain previously erupted on June 12, 1980. On May 18, 1980, it erupted and blew 1,300 feet off its top, and sent ash 63,000 feet into the air eastward across the continent.