Volcanoe Studies - Mt. St. Helens:


Northwest Indians told early explorers about the firey Mount St. Helens.

In fact, an Indian name for the mountain, Louwala-Clough, means "smoking mountain".

According to one legend, the mountain was once a beautiful maiden, "Loowit". When two sons of the Great Spirit "Sahale" fell in love with her, she could not choose between them.

The two braves, Wyeast and Klickitat fought over her, burying villages and forests in the process. Sahale was furious. He smote the three lovers and erected a mighty mountain peak where each fell.

Because Loowit was beautiful, her mountain (Mount St. Helens) was a beautiful, symmetrical cone of dazzling white. Wyeast (Mount Hood) lifts his head in pride, but Klickitat (Mount Adams) wept to see the beautiful maiden wrapped in snow, so he bends his head as he gazes on St. Helens.


Mt. St. Helens Eruption October 1, 2004







Native American legends abound with descriptions of the brothers Wy'east (Hood) and Pahto (Adams) battling for the fair La-wa-la-clough (St. Helens).

Behaviors attributed to Wy'east include hurtling of hot rocks from gaping holes, sending forth streams of liquid fire, loss of formerly high summits, and choking of valleys with rocks.

These are fair descriptions of Mount Hood's reconstructed activity over the past two millennia.

From: Pringle, 1993, Roadside Geology of Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument and Vicinity: Washington State Department of Natural Resources, Division of Geology and Earth Resources Information Circular 88

Native cultures in the Pacific Northwest, such as the Salish and Klickitat Indians, called Mount St. Helens Loo-Wit Lat-kla or Louwala-Clough (fire mountain or smoking mountain).

In their legends, a female spirit (Mount St. Helens) tried to make peace between two sons (Mounts Adams and Hood) of the Great Spirit who fought over her, throwing fiery rocks at each other and causing earthquakes.

The warring of the sons destroyed the Bridge of the Gods that once crossed the Columbia River.

These legends are undoubtedly referring to volcanic eruptions and earthquakes that both frightened and awed the area's early inhabitants.

Baron St. Helens

From: Foxworthy and Hill, 1982, Volcanic Eruptions of 1980 at Mount St. Helens, The First 100 Days: USGS Professional Paper 1249
Mount St. Helens was named for British diplomat Alleyne Fitzherbert (1753-1839), whose title was Baron St. Helens.

The mountain was named by Commander George Vancouver and the officers of H.M.S.Discovery while they were surveying the northern Pacific coast from 1792 to 1794.



Mt. St. Helens










Mt. St. Helens Eruption October 1, 2004












image image image image image image image image image image image

image