Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Up Close and Personal with Mt. St. Helens

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Up Close and Personal with Mt. St. Helens

Article excerpt

* The blast zone of Mt. St. Helens in southwest Washington State is now a national monument. This vast area is a panoramic window on the world of a volcano. It attracts one million tourists yearly.

A series of visitor centers have been built along State Route 504. The last one, the Johnston Ridge Observatory, is five miles from the crater created by the May 1980 eruption. Assistant director Debi Church answers many visitor questions. And some of ours:

Why build a visitor center right next to a volcano? According to historical records, the mountain generally erupts every 100 to 150 years, but no one knows for sure when it will happen again. This building is not volcano-proof, yet as long as it's here, we'll be able to educate people about volcanoes. How close can you get to the crater? With a hiking permit, which costs $15, anybody can climb the south side of Mt. St. Helens all the way to the rim of the crater. The north side, where the blast occurred, is off-limits. …

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