COLDWATER LAKE AT MOUNT ST. HELENS - WASHINGTON
Lewis and Clark, who camped near the mouth of the Lewis River below Sauvies Island in November 1805, describe in their Journal their view of the peak some 70 miles upstream: “Three miles below the Image Canoe Island…we had a full view of the mountain…[Mount St. Helens]; it rises in the form of a sugar loaf to a great height, and is covered with snow.”
—Washington, A Guide To the Evergreen State (WPA, 1941)
Upon driving up the winding road to the observation deck at Mount St. Helens you notice the immensity of the explosion that happened over 30 years ago. The surrounding landscape still has fallen trees. It looks barren. Tour guides tell groups of people about the amount of volcanic destruction.
But oddly enough, the mountain’s eruption created new freshwater lakes nearby. One such lake, known as Coldwater Lake, had at one time been just a small stream. The landslide dammed it and created the lake. Right after the explosion Coldwater was full of mud and debris, but due to fast acting microbes the lake became clear and even drinkable in just a matter of years.
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Zak Long is a State Guide to California and his home state of Ohio. Born in Cleveland, OH, and now residing in San Francisco, CA, much of his photography and videography explore first hand accounts of American rail travel. You can follow him on his personal Tumblr, zaklong.tumblr.com, and also on UC Research.