Mt. St. Helens Devastating Eruption Captured On Film

    May 19, 2012
    Amanda Crum

Yesterday, May 18th, marked the 32nd anniversary of the devastation brought on by Mt. St. Helens when it erupted in a wall of black ash and lava, leaving a path of destruction 250 miles long and killing 57 people.

The volcano was widely regarded as a beautiful part of the Cascade area before the eruption and often drew mountain climbers, tourists, and nature lovers to its base, where serene waters offered fishing and perfect camping areas. When a 5.1 magnitude earthquake rocked the mountain, however, it literally blew its top and spewed hot ash that traveled thousands of miles. Some photographers risked their lives to get shots of the event and managed to capture both the eruption and the swath of its destruction.

mount st. helens before eruption
Image credit: D.R. Mullineaux

mt. st. helens eruption
Image credit: Austin Post

mt. st. helens car
Image credit: Dan Dzurisin

mt. st. helens bridge
Image credit: Lyn Topinka

mt. st. helens boulder
Image credit: Lyn Topinka

mt. st. helens blast
Image credit: Washington Herald

Photographer Vern Hodgson captured some of the first images of the eruption while on a camping trip and barely made it out of the path of destruction alive.

“Every time you took a breath it would stick to your throat or get stuck in your nose,” he remembers. “At that point I started to go into shock,” he said. “You couldn’t see anything. You couldn’t see your hand in front of your face. We accepted the fact we were going to die.”

Hodgson captured this image from 11 miles away just as the volcano blew its top.

mt. st. helens explosion

“Even today it sends chills up my spine and puts goosebumps up my back,” he said. “To see that whole mountain collapse, there’s no words to describe it.”


Amanda Crum
Amanda Crum is a writer and artist from Kentucky. She's a fan of Edward Gorey, Hunter S. Thompson, and horror movies. You can follow her on Google:+Amanda Crum