Washington State Parks is collecting oral histories of the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption from the public as the 40th anniversary approaches.
The Mount St. Helens Visitor Center is spearheading the effort, which will occur over the next few months. Organizers are interested in stories from current and former residents of the area, as well as other individuals 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, an interpretive specialist at the visitor center. “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.”
Those interested in taking part in the effort have three ways of doing so. Contact information or a completed journal entry can be dropped off at the visitor center, which is located at 3029 Spirit Lake Highway, Castle Rock. Stories can be sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Interviews can be scheduled by calling 360-274-0962.
The Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture in Spokane is also taking part in the effort, with a focus on capturing stories from those in Eastern Washington who were affected by ash from the 1980 eruption.
This winter, State Parks employees will be converting written and oral histories into a temporary exhibit at the visitor center. The exhibit is expected to be open to the public from mid-May to October next year. It will include historical publications and artifacts from the eruption.