Forty years ago, the Pacific Northwest was rocked by the eruption of Mt. St. Helens, in Washington state, when the north face of the volcano blew out triggering a massive landslide that devastated forests and communities for miles around.
The plume of ash and gas reached 15 miles into the atmosphere, depositing debris across 13 states. The mudflows in the aftermath flattened homes and destroying vegetation, killing 57 people. Ash from the volcano continued to drift and affected air quality as far away as Portland, Ore.
Harry R. Truman, the 83-year-old, World War I veteran, owner and caretaker of Mount St. Helens Lodge at Spirit Lake near the foot of the mountain, is remembered as the Spirit of Mt. St. Helens. After the mountain began to shake and he refused to leave the evacuation zone, he became a national celebrity.
He came to fame as a folk hero in the months preceding the volcano’s 1980 eruption after he refused to leave his home despite evacuation orders. He is remembered as the Spirit of Mt. St. Helens, Harry R. Truman was last seen at about 6 p.m. on May 17, 1980.