It was a sleepy, sunny Sunday without a hint that beneath one of North America's prettiest mountains a rage was brewing that astonished even geologists. At about 8:30 a.m., May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens blew with a force that rivaled a hydrogen bomb, leveling 150 square miles of tall trees like a lawnmower cutting grass and burying homes, lodges, cars and, tragically killing 57 people.

Here's a look at images before, during and in the tragic days that followed the eruption:


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