What started as an earthquake at 8:32 in the morning on May 18, 1980, became history’s largest-recorded landslide and, after that, the worst volcanic eruption in the history of the United States. The Mount St. Helens disaster in Washington state and beyond killed 57 people and changed the land and the lives of thousands. Only pictures can do the terror and devastation justice.
Explorer George Vancouver surveyed the Pacific Northwestern United States in the late 1700s, a journey that led him to a peak reaching more than 5,000 feet above its base. He called the geographical highlight Mount St. Helens in honor of his friend, a British diplomat named Lord St. Helens.
The peak before Vancouver didn’t simply stand tall and make up a stunning part of the Cascade Mountains – it had a fiery history. Mount St. Helens was and is identified as a stratovolcano, with a steep slope that had built up as layers of lava, ash, pumice and tephra erupted and hardened over the years.