42 years ago today, Harry R. Truman waved goodbye one last time, just a few days before Mount St. Helens blew her top.
“If the mountain goes, I’m going with it.”
– Harry R. Truman
Truman was an American businessman, bootlegger, and prospector. He lived near Mount St. Helens, an active volcano in the state of Washington, and was the owner and caretaker of Mount St. Helens Lodge at Spirit Lake near the base of the mountain. Truman came to fame as a folk hero in the months leading up to the volcano’s 1980 eruption after refusing to leave his home despite evacuation orders. He was killed by a pyroclastic flow that overtook his lodge and buried the site under 150 ft of volcanic debris.
After Truman’s death, his family and friends reflected on his love for the mountain. In 1981, Art Carney portrayed Truman in the docudrama film St. Helens. He was commemorated in a book by his niece, and also in various pieces of music, including songs by Headgear, Billy Jonas, and Shawn Wright and the Brothers Band.
These aerials of the Mount St. Helens and legendary proprietor Harry R. Truman are some of the last known images of the lake, the lodge and the man who embodied the rugged people that lived in the shadow of the volcano. This video also shows the final stages of the evacuation and airlift removal of the equipment from the Boy Scout Camp on Spirit Lake.
Want more Harry R. Truman? This post is a great read on his love of the mountain and his wife, Eddie. Check it out >