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

Paul Kane

1847 Eruptions of Mount St. Helens
(Published in 1859)

Excerpts from:
Wanderings of an Artist among the Indians of North America, from Canada to Vancouvers Island and Oregon, Through the Hudson's Bay Company's Territory and Back Again, by Paul Kane, London, 1859.

Eruption of Mount St. Helens
March 26, 1847

   [p.199-200]     ... When we arrived at the mouth of the Kattlepoutal River, twenty-six miles from Fort Vancouver, I stopped to make a sketch of the volcano, Mount St. Helen's, distant, I suppose, about thirty or forty miles. This mountain has never been visited by either Whites or Indians; the latter assert that it is inhabited by a race of beings of a different species, who are cannibals, and whom they hold in great dread; they also say that there is a lake at its base with a very extraordinary kind of fish in it, with a head more resembling that of a bear than any other animal. These superstitions are taken from the statement of a man who, they say, went to the mountain with another, and escaped the fate of his companion, who was eaten by the "Skoocooms," or evil genii. I offered a considerable bribe to any Indian who would accompany me in its exploration, but could not find one hardy enough to venture. It is of very great height, and being eternally covered with snow, is seen at a great distance. There was not a cloud visible in the sky at the time I commenced my sketch, and not a breath of air was perceptible: suddenly a stream of white smoke shot up from the crater of the mountain, and hovered a short time over its summit; it then settled down like a cap. This shape it retained for about an hour and a-half, and then gradually disappeared.

About three years before this the mountain was in a violent state of irruption for three or four days, and threw up burning stones and lava to an immense height, which ran in burning torrents down its snow-clad sides. ...

Eruption of Mount St. Helens
March 30, 1847

   [p.205]     ... We landed at the Cowlitz farm , which belongs to the Hudson's Bay Company. Large quantities of wheat are raised at this place. I had a fine view of Mount St. Helen's throwing up a long column of dark smoke into the clear blue sky. Here I remained until the 5th of April. ...

The "Kattlepoutal River" is today's Lewis River.
"Cowlitz Farm" was located near today's Toledo, Washington.

Digital version of Paul Kane's "Wanderings of an Artist among the Indians of North America"
was found at the "Early Canadiana Online" Website (2007).


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