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PRESERVATION: St. Helens Motorcycle Ride, 1950s

Photographer: Bob Chaney
Provided through the collection of Jon Martin

A ride to Mt. St. Helens in the 1950s. Imagine that. No I-5, plenty of Highway 99 and then a ride east to the mountain. There's a lot we know from looking at the photo.

It was most likely taken at the Timberline Viewpoint, south of Spirit Lake several miles. Located right at the north base of the mountain, the viewpoint does not exist today since it blew out with the entire north base of the mountain and was washed down the north fork of the Toutle river in the lahars. The ridge on the left side survived the blast in 1980 and is visible today. But now it is the rim of the crater, which it may have been several times throughout history.

The photograph was most likely taken in June when the mountain still has a lot of snow, but the days are longest. We can see there's plenty of light illuminating the riders and the mountain, so a picture like this can only occur during early morning or evening hours. A mid day shot is unlikely since the riders would become shadows with the sun at their backs. Judging by the glint of light coming off the headlight of the bike on the right and the reflection on the fender of the bike next to it, it's probable this was an early evening photo with the sun dangling in the west to the right of the bikes. This is confirmed by the shadow position of the tree half way up the hill on the right and the light illuminating the woman at the left's, left cheek.

Looks like a good group ride. In the picture we see six riders and might assume the person taking the photo, Bob Chaney was also along for the ride. The trail in the back on the right leads one to wonder if there wasn't some hill climbing tomfoolery going on.

We see three Harley Davidson's and one bike we're unable to identify by brand name on the right. But that bike also sports a more aggressive front tire, so it may have seen its fair share of gravel roads and possibly even trails during its time. That bike may have been Chaney's as he was active in the dirt bike and hill climb communities.


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