NFR Mt St Helens eruption. May 18th, 1980. 39 years ago. Where were you?

Chic Worthing

Active Member
The eruption sounded like a sonic boom and we did not know until later in the day when some friends told us what the "boom" was. I was working for the DOT at that time and knew some folks who knew to get around the road blocks down near the dangerous areas. One guy was going in on weekends and camping with his family way too close th ground zero. and they never saw a trace of them. Sometimes you can be too smart


Active Member
I was working for Union Pacific Railroad in Pocatello and attending Idaho State University. We had some locomotives come in to be fueled that had some volcanic caked on them. Interesting how the big shots had time to come out and instruct us peons to put some ash in some plastic bottles for them...beneath them to do it themselves. Must have been worried about getting dirt on their hands.


"Chasing Riseforms"
I was at a “fly in” at a private airport in South Prairie with my friend Jimmy Ach. We woke that morning and actually saw the smoke and ash. Everyone headed home so the ash wouldn’t be a problem for their planes. We took off and headed back to Bremerton airport. The view was amazing. In August of 1979 I camped and canoed on Spirit Lake and fished on the Green River in December. I was anxious to go there the following year. It never came to pass...

Driftless Dan

Active Member
I was far away, in college back in Washington, DC. One of the later eruptions hit Portland more heavily and my mom sent me a vial of ash that was very iron-rich, as magnets would pick up most of the particles.


Active Member
I was in Alaska and missed it all. I did fish Coldwater the 1st year they let us use a boat (1989?) ... and don't think we caught a rainbow under 20 inches!


Active Member
I drove from ellensburg where I was a student to the Yakima canyon to check out the river that morning. The clouds of ash and explosions looked like the worlds biggest thunder storm and I thought that’s what it was. There were too guys in a canoe heading down the canyon. I have wondered how their day turned out. Anyone here on that fateful cruise?

Went home, heard the news and the world went black. Ash started falling and the street lights came on by noon. No one knew what the effects of the ash would be so I stayed in my house during the longest night of my life.

The next day I headed to Albertsons with a handkerchief over my mouth and my trapper Nelson on my back. Next spring I remember fishing Burke lake and some others in the basin and seeing snake tracks and others in the ash.


Active Member
Powell Ranger Station near Lolo pass, took a nap around lunch and woke up to darkness. I thought I had really slept a long time, went outside and folks were walking around watching the ash fall at 4:00 pm.
I was living up there myself, working in the woods. I was down the river in Kamiah the morning it blew, however, spending the weekend. I thought a big storm was rolling in from the west. That is what it looked like; a massive storm front. I thought maybe fish would be biting so I hit the Clearwater just upstream from Kamiah. Then it started snowing ash, and the nickel dropped. St Helens blew! I caught no fish that morning.

Were you with the Forest Service at Powell?

I was cutting logs for Steve George and Norm Fry. The ash was very abrasive and hard on your chainsaw sharpness. Had to sharpen frequently. But the good thing was it rained a lot that summer. It would cloud up in the morning, rain a bit, then clear up by quitting time. It rinsed the ash off the trees. Then hit the Lodge for beer and pool. Good Times, eh?

Fast Action Freddie

Having a drink in The Buff
Park Lake ... family trip at Sun Cove Resort (Sun Lakes). Me and my sister were just old enough to be out on the lake by ourselves with our 13' Livingston with outboard motor. Saw this dark black looking cloud edge over the top of the coulee. Was a nice day otherwise - kept fishing. A boat rushes up to us as they saw we were kids out there -- yells out to us "i'm from around these parts and that's a really bad storm coming over the hill - you kids better get off the lake".

By the time we were off the lake with the boat pulled waaayy up shore (because of that ever gathering storm), it became fairly dark and was falling ash. By the time we got up to the cabin it was really dark and really ashing. I was freaking (Russia?). Heard the news from the radio ... still remember that freaking feeling - what happens next? how bad is this going to be? heard that highways were already closed. we took hwy 20 home the next day.


I was an orhardist in the West Valley of Yakima at that time being early spring I was in still in my first sets of irrigation water. We still used rill irrigation at that time and it was a time consuming job. I started the water going early and went back in for a nap I never heard it. When I returned to check the water sometime after 8AM I saw a very black cloud in the west, thinking to myself that was strange, being a farmer the only important part of the news was the weather report. I had noticed that there were no fronts even far out to sea. Without cloud cover frost is possible so I had been watching weather. As it approached I figured what it was. By 10AM it was fully dark as night our loading yard light came on. The ash was falling well and my chickens just sat where they were in the run. I picked them up by there feet and shook the ash off them and threw them in the coup. I didn’t know if the ash was dangerous but I wanted to be careful for the dumb chickens. I also went into my house. Wondering if we would survive the day we discussed going to bed and shocking any future archeologists doing body casts of are bodies buried in ash ala Pompey. We did survive but we had a rough year that summer we lost our irrigation canal above the Tieton River and our water was off for a month. That year our shake roof failed in the first post eruption rain every room took water damage. We also had the biggest fruit drop due t low light conditions. During that summer every battery in the equipment failed. Wear on bearings despite heavy use of grease failed. It was a rough year but oh so different.


Active Member
I was 9 and living in Stockholm, Sweden at the time. My aunt, who lives in Renton, sent us some vials of ash and also a "Mt. St Helen's Ski Team" t-shirt with a silk screen of the eruption in the background.

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