Link to USGS home page.
Contact USGS

Facebook Icon Twitter Icon
  • Assess
  • Prepare
  • Forecast
  • |
  • Activity
  • Products
  • Observatories
  • About

Volcanoes and History
Cascade Range Volcanoes - "Volcanoes and History"

Rev. Gustavus Hines

1842 Eruption of Mount St. Helens
(Published in 1850)

Excerpt from:
"A Voyage Round the World: with a History of the Oregon Mission: ... By Rev. Gustavus Hines.", published by Geo. H. Derby and Co., Buffalo, 1850.

Eruption of Mount St. Helens, October 1842 ***
Excerpt from: Chapter XVI

   [p.320-322]     ... Having passed over this range of high lands along the coast, you descend, on the north side of the Columbia, into the valley of the Cowilitz, and on the south, into that of the Wallamette river, and still farther south, you come down on the plains which lie on the Umpqua and Clameth rivers. The valley of the Cowilitz is about forty miles in length, and varying from ten to twenty in breadth, and extends east to the foot of that range of mountains of which "St. Helen's," the Mount Adams of Americans, is the highest peak. The Wallamette valley is more extensive, being from fifty to eighty miles broad, and more than two hundred miles long. The plains on the Umpqua, which commence about forty-five miles back from the ocean, are quite extensive, and, whith those on the Clameth, and the Wallamette valley, extend east to that range of mountains, which, crossing the Columbia river, form the Cascades, and therefore called the "Cascade Mountains."

... The Cascade mountains extend in one continuous range, parallel with the coast, quite to California, and have therefore some times been called ?The California Mountains.?

Those whose highest observations have been limited to the Catskill and Alleghany mountains, can form no just conception of the grandeur and magnificence of this stupendous range. Some of its loftiest summits are more than fifteen thousand feet above the level of the ocean, and Mount Olympus, near Cape Flattery, and St. Helen?s, near the head of the Cowilitz river, and fifty miles from the coast, can both be seen for some distance at sea.

These highest points are covered with eternal snow, and presenting their rounded tops to the heavens, appear like so many magnificent domes, to adorn the temple of nature. From one elevation near the Wallamette river, and at the distance of from sixty to one hundred and fifty miles, the writer has counted eight of these snow-topped mountains, without moving from his tracks. Surely, no scenery can be more enchanting. One of these mountains, St. Helen?s, requires a more particular account, from a phenomenon which it presented a few years ago. In the month of October, 1842, it was discovered, all at once, to be covered with a dense cloud of smoke, which continued to enlarge, and move off, in dense masses, to the eastward, and filling the heavens in that direction, presented an appearance like that occasioned by a tremendous conflagration, viewed at a vast distance. When the first volumes of smoke had passed away, it could be distinctly seen, from various parts of the country, that an eruption had taken place on the north side of St. Helen?s, a little below the summit, and from the smoke that continued to issue from the chasm or carter, it was pronounced to be a volcano in active operation. When the explosion took place, the wind was north-west, and on the same day, and extending from thirty to fifty miles to the south-east, there fell showers of ashes, or dust, which covered the ground in some places, so as to admit of its being collected in quantities. This last phenomenon has been of frequent occurrence, and has led many to suppose that volcanic eruptions are not uncommon in this country.

St. Helen?s is the most regular in its form and the most beautiful in its appearance of all the snow-capped mountains of Oregon; and though on the north side of the Columbia, it belongs to the Cascade range. Mount Hood or Mount Washington, as it is sometimes called by Americans, is on the south side of the Columbia, and being larger, and more elevated than St. Helen?s, presents a magnificent object, on which the eye can gaze without weariness, from innumerable points more than one hundred miles from its base. But any description of these gigantic piles of basalt and snow, must fall far below the reality; and indeed, the person desiring to realize all the delightful sensations produced by the scenery of these mountains, must fix himself on some eminence in the Wallamette valley, where all of them at once come in contact with his vision, and he will want no farther proof than the works of art sink into insignificance, when compared with the stupendous works of nature.

*** Harry M. Majors, writing about the 1842-1844 eruptions of Mount St. Helens (Northwest Discovery, July 1980), suspects this date to be November 1842.

Digital version of Rev. Gustavus Hines' publication "A Voyage Round the WOrld: with a History of the Oregon Mission, etc.:" was found at
Google Books (2009).


If you have questions or comments please contact:
2008 - 2011, Lyn Topinka
Return to: Volcanoes and History | CVO Home Page