Mount St Helens
Return of the forest
On May 18, 1980, at 8:32 a.m., a magnitude 5.1 earthquake triggered one of the world's largest recorded landslides, followed by one of the most powerful volcanic blasts in the history of North America: the eruption of Mount St. Helens.
That morning, 23 square miles of the mountain blasted sideways at 650 mph. The temperature reached 660 degrees Fahrenheit as it choked life around it. A flow of rock fragment, hot gases and superheated steam, called a lahar, raced down the mountain at 200 miles per hour, devastating everything in its path. An ash cloud billowed 17 miles into the sky, eventually circling the entire earth.
Fifty-seven people lost their lives.
Part of the forest destroyed that day was under our care. Nearly 68,000 acres of the nearby tree farm we have owned since 1900 — from young trees through ready timber — were devastated.
Within months, we began planting 18 million seedlings — by hand — based on a sound forest management plan. What followed was an intensive effort to help the forest recover, for ecological and social benefits, as well as for our business.
Today, we tell the story of that recovery at our free Forest Learning Center, located just inside the blast zone. The Forest Learning Center is full of amenities and exhibits that tell the story of Mount St. Helens and its forests through interactive exhibits, hands-on activities and exciting visual displays refreshed in 2020. We invite you to visit us to relive this great story of recovery and learn more about sustainable forestry at Weyerhaeuser.
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