Saint Helens Mini Volcano

I am an old guy, and other than in my ears, really don't have much hair on my head. I have been told that when the sun is out, the reflection from my hatless head can be blinding.

To be politically correct you might say that I am "follically deficient." Despite my lack of hair, I will still, on occasion, require a haircut. 

Several months ago I walked into my favorite barbershop. I did as I always have done; I sat myself down, picked up a magazine and patiently waited for my turn.

"Next" said my barber.

I got up and climbed into his barber chair.

The barber threw a haircloth over my shoulders and fastened a paper neck strip around me.

As I was sitting I gazed through the front window of the barbershop and noticed men working on an island in the street. 

The barbershop is located in midtown St. Helens, across from a place where two major one-way streets converge. The two streets form a small triangle, a miniscule area of land that no one, other than the City, would care to claim. The men appeared to be working on a wooden form of sorts.

"What are they doing?"

My barber continued to mow away at what few hairs remained on my head. "Someone told me that they are erecting a fountain or a volcano or something."

"Interesting." I replied. "A fountain might look really nice in the center of the street. "

The barber stopped mowing, and applied shaving cream around my ears. " I heard that they got some sort of a government grant to make unique directional signs."

I brightened. "I think that is a neat idea. I would love to see a fountain. Our city could use some beauty."

Some time passed and I again returned for a trim

My barber approached me holding both comb and clippers. "What do you think?"
I looked out the window and gazed at a dark blob of concrete resembling something that I once saw in an old Science fiction Classic.

"Wow! Said I, "It looks like something from either Close Encounters or an inept junior high school science fair project."

My barber stopped cutting, and displayed a big grin. "It sure is ugly isn't it?"

"It sure isn't my idea of a fountain, or a way to get tourists into town." I replied. 

"You know, it also erupts every 15 minutes," informed my barber.

"I'm impressed."

"Don't be," responded my barber. "It's due to erupt in one minute"
I sat there, and the barber refrained from any further cutting of my hair so that I could appreciate the magic of the volcanic eruption.

"Poof." A small jet of water shot into the sky and then landed on the sides of the concrete slab.

"Is that all?"

"Yep" responded my barber. "Blink and you'll miss the eruption."


My barber completed my hair cut, and I exited his shop.

The volcano/fountain did catch my interest and I soon discovered a "Friends of The Miniature Mount Saint Helens Volcano" on facebook.!/group.php?gid=269549784928&ref=ts
There were a number of posts, including a picture of two girls holding a large cardboard sign saying "We came from Vancouver BC to see Mini Mt. St. Helens."
It is under the category: Just for fun - totally pointless.  The description for the page reads: "Mount St. Helens in down town St. Helens? If you can't have fun with this, you need to calm down a degree or two..."

I also discovered that the City of St. Helens received a grant from the USDA Rural Development agency for directional signage. They originally asked a well-known sculptor/puppeteer to create something. He submitted a plan for an interpretive sign on Highway 30, and the Oregon Department of Highways turned him down. He was not happy and was not interested in doing something elsewhere.

Time elapsed, and the city was about to lose their grant.

The City Planner did not want to lose grant money for the City. He assembled a group of friends to serve as a committee to help him keep the money. They all enjoyed some food and wine together. Amidst their revelry (and wine) a group member jokingly suggested a volcano.

That was all it took.

The volcano/fountain was quickly constructed.

Not everyone was happy. Some people complained that, because of the grant time constraints, the planner, with the help of the City Administrator and Mayor, did not have anyone formally review their plans, and circumvented using established boards, like Planning, Tourism, Signs, Arts, and formal bodies like the City Council.

I drove to mid town Saint Helens, and parked my car in front of my barber's shop. I wanted to see if I could get a picture of the volcano erupting.

I waited, and waited and saw nothing. No eruption.

I popped into the barbershop and asked "What happed to the eruptions?"

My barber grinned. "Oh I think the compressor has failed again. I haven't seen any eruptions for the last week."


"Hey Eagle," snarked my barber. "Care to sign my petition?"


I was handed a clip board with a list of names on it. The title of the petition was "Impeach The Volcano."

I started laughing.

My barber wasn't laughing he was dead serious. "We have petitions at the Kozy Korner, Barlow Bikes, Holton Bakery, and Bings Restaurant. I want your signature."

I am not sure how legal a volcano impeachment petition is, but I would recommend that anyone driving down highway 30 by St. Helens make haste if they want to see our mini Volcano. I have a sneaking hunch that this work of art's days might be numbered.


Home                       More of Bill's Published Writings