George Davidson

Eruptions of Mount Baker, 1854, 1858, and 1870
(Published in 1885)


Excerpt from: Letters to the Editor, Recent volcanic activity in the United States: eruptions of Mount Baker., George Davidson, Science, Vol.6, No.138. (Sept. 25, 1885), p.262.

Mount Baker, 1854

... In 1854 I was one day observing at the trigonometrical station on Obstruction Island in the Rosario Strait, Washington Sound: I had finished the measures for horizontal direction of the summit of Mount Baker, and was commencing a series of measures of the vertical angles for elevation, when I found the whole summit of the mountain suddenly obscured by vast rolling masses of dense smoke, which in a few minutes reached an estimated height of two thousand feet above the mountain, and soon enveloped the higher parts. Baker was distant thirty-nine geographical miles from my station, and bore about north seventy-five degrees east, true. The weather was fine, and we hped to see a brilliant display at night; but unfortunately the sky clouded, and we could not see the light at night, nor the mountain next day: when the weather cleared, the eruption had ceased; and, instead of the white mountain mass, we discovered that the snow covering it was apparently melted away fro two or three thousand feet below the two heads. Of course the snow may not have been melted, but only covered with ashes and scoriae; and we had not the means of deciding the question at that distance.

We had been in those waters during parts of 1852 and 1853, and then the snow-clad mountain was quiet.

We discovered that the crater was not on the summit, or on the secondary peak to the south-eastward, but on the flank of the higher peak, and opening towards the south or south-wwest. In subsequent years we occasionally saw small volumes of smoke issuing from this crater. The facts of this eruption were reported by me at the time. ...




Mount Baker, 1858

... In 1858 Mr. John S. Hittell of San Francisco was in Victoria, and he informs me that the night clouds over Mount Baker were brilliantly illuminated by the light from an eruption of Mount Baker. Upon his making inquiries among the citizens of Victoria, they expressed themselves as being well aware of the eruption then going on. ...



Mount Baker, 1870

... In 1870, when I was passing through Admiralty Inlet and the Strait of Fuca, towards Victoria, Mount Baker was very clearly in sight at about sixty miles distance, when I beheld great volumes of smoke projeted from the crater to an estimated height of eight hundred feet above the higher peak. ...



Collapsing of Mount Baker's Crater

... rumors had found their way into the newspapers, asserting that the summit of Mount Baker had fallen in. On the contrary, I was perfectly satisfied, from my years of familiarity with its features, that no such catastrophe had teken place between 1852 and 1870; nor was I able to detect any changes in 1877, when I was daily in sight of Mount Baker for some time. ...