Curtis Perry Outtake: “Miner’s Car”- A Monument To A Tragedy

Miner's Car CP

(first posted 1/31/2016)  Shot near Mt. Saint Helen’s, WA.  It’s a monument to the three people who drove this 1972 Grand Prix into the volcano’s blue zone and lost their lives in the massive eruption of May 18, 1980.

Miner's car 2

Here’s another shot of the car, this one from a now-defunct Mt. St. Helens Volcanic Monument web site, which also had the back story:

Three days before the eruption, Donald and Natalie Parker and their nephew Rick parked their green 1972 Pontiac Grand Prix about 8-1/2 miles from the volcano and hiked to a nearby cabin to inspect their mining claim.  They were in the designated “blue zone,” which was open to businesspeople who signed liability wavers with the state, which the Parkers did.  Volcano scientists were not as worried about people in the blue zone because they were expected to survive a typical vertical eruption.  But the initial eruption of Mt. St. Helens was lateral (sideways) not vertical.  The blast killed the Parkers and flattened and seared their car, which remains as a stark reminder to the 57 people who perished that day.

Miner's car 3

Here’s how it looked not long after the eruption.

Mt st helens

I was in Portland just about two years before Mt. St. Helens erupted, and noted what a stately, snow-covered peak it was. Its eruption was the deadliest and most catastrophic volcanic eruption ever in the US. 57 lost their lives, 250 homes destroyed, and a huge area of forest was devastated. The mountain now is literally a shell of its former self.


I’m getting a bit carried away here, but I’ve never seen this amazing photo from Wikipedia, shot 60 miles away. The cloud stem is 10 miles wide, and the mushroom is 40 miles wide and 15 miles high.

We’ve gone back to the mountain in recent years; there’s an excellent visitor center directly across from the mountain looking into its crater, and one can’t really get a sense of the extent of the impact without driving through it.

Hat tip to William Stopford