Over the years, Northeast Pennsylvania has experienced numerous natural disasters: flooding, tornadoes and hurricanes. But it has never experienced a volcanic eruption.

Forty years ago on May 18,  Mount St. Helens, located in Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Washington state erupted. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, this eruption was the most economically destructive volcanic event in U.S. history.

In this photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey, is an aerial view of the eruption of Mount St. Helens volcano, Wash., May 18, 1980. White linear features are logging roads; dark patches are trees. (AP Photo/U.S. Geological Survey)

An event of this magnitude is a world wide event.  The following day the eruption was front page news. Here are the front pages of the Scranton Times from May 19th and May 20th.

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The Scranton Times – May 19, 1980

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The Scranton Times – May 20, 1980

There always seems to be some connection to Northeast Pennsylvania when it comes to world events.  Mount St. Helens is no different.

We have many articles about the eruption and its aftermath. We also have two articles with a local connection to the disaster. The first article was from June 15, 1980 is about how Warrant Officer Randy Freeman, a West Scranton High graduate and helicopter pilot  stationed at Fort Lewis located near Tacoma, was sent to help in the search effort following the eruption. He told a Times reporter that “the forest resembles a toothpick factory. All the trees are blown down. The river beds look like pictures from the moon. Gigantic ice balls were thrown miles away from the mountain.”

The second article was from July 24, 1980 and it is about an entrepreneurial Lake Ariel teen.  Eddie Valanda, 13 years old resident of Lake Ariel, received a drum filled with volcanic ash from a relative who lived near the volcano. Read about his plans for the ash.

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To learn more about Mount St. Helens visit these websites:

Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument – http://www.fs.usda.gov/mountsthelens

Mount St. Helens VolcanoCam – http://www.fs.fed.us/gpnf/volcanocams/msh/

30 cool facts about Mt. St. Helens – http://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/103/