To commemorate next year’s 40th anniversary of the Mount St. Helens eruption, Washington State Parks is looking for people who were affected by this major event in Washington state’s history.

Over the next few months, staff from the Mount St. Helens Visitor Center will spearhead an effort to collect stories from current and past residents, as well as from individuals near and far who were affected by the volcano’s eruption on May 18, 1980.

“We want to record these poignant memories before they are lost or forgotten,” said Alysa Adams, Visitor Center interpretive specialist. “You can pick up a historic newspaper or read a book about the eruption, but first-hand encounters from  community members paint the real picture of that day. These voices need to be heard to preserve this part of history.

People have several options for sharing their Mount St. Helens stories:

    Drop by the sharing corner at the Mount St. Helens Visitor Center and fill out contact information and / or complete a journal entry.

    Provide a brief description via email at Silver.Lake@parks.wa.gov

    Call 360-274-0962 to schedule an interview.

The Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture (MAC) in Spokane is conducting a parallel effort to capture stories from Eastern Washington residents who were affected by the ash from the 1980 eruption. Some of these memories will be displayed at the museum next year. State Parks and MAC may share stories  collected between the facilities.

Throughout this winter, State Parks staff will be converting these written and oral histories into a temporary exhibit at the center. They plan to make the exhibit accessible to the public from mid-May through October 2020, with this experience included in the visitor center’s regular admission. The temporary display also will showcase historical publications and artifacts from the 1980 eruption. 

The visitor center, run by Washington State Parks, functions as a gateway to the volcano, which lies about 30 miles to the east. Visitors can learn about the historical significance of the landscape before, during and after the eruption and how the eruption affected nearby ecosystems. On a clear day, a walk on the Visitor Center’s interpretive trail affords a spectacular view of Mount St. Helens in the distance. Visit parks.state.wa.us/245/Mount-St-Helens for more information.

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission manages more than 100 state parks and properties totaling approximately 120,000 acres. The Commission provides a variety of recreation opportunities for citizens and provides stewardship protection for a diverse array of natural, cultural and historic resources. State Parks’ statewide programs include long-distance trails, boating safety and winter recreation.