Friday, October 12, 2012

Lassen Peak Eruption Video - I'm not joking!

Last night I had one of the greatest of pleasures I can experience and that is to learn something that would be categorized as "the rest of the story. “Craig Martin relayed to me the tale of his grandfather, Justin Hammer, who lived near Lassen Peak in California in 1914. Hammer made his own camera and shot the following film at Catfish Lake, now Reflection Lake in Lassen National Park, in 1917, very near the north park entrance. 
Lassen's eruptions occurred from 1914 to 1917, but the USGS initially did not believe the eruption occurred on the earliest date. However, Hammer who lived so close to the volcano, witnessed the first eruption  in 1914.  Hammer would stay at his cabin unless heat, lava, and ash from the eruption forced him briefly away. Quite the adventurer, Hammer was the oldest man ever to scale the mountain's North Slope at age 70. 

Craig Martin comments, "National Geographic was sold the rights to the film in exchange for saving as much of the film as they could in the 60s. They found the film so brittle that when it was handled, it splintered into pieces. The film you see is all they could save of all the eruptions. The rest was explosive, so it was destroyed." The film was, at one time, over 20 minutes long. Prior to the eruption of Mt. St. Helens in 1980 this was the only film of a volcanic eruption within the continental United States. 
Craig has also promised me exclusive rights to his family archive of Lassen photographs; I simply cannot wait to see them. I am elated that Craig's and my paths have crossed and that along with making a new friend, we both can share a story that might otherwise not obtain the attention it so rightly deserves.
PS Audio was supplied by Craig, as the film was originally silent.


  1. Fascinating Lin. And to think I climbed Lassen back in August 1978! Wish you could have been there with me! Thanks for posting this great story! Can't wait to hear more! HUGS Kevin

  2. So glad you liked it, Kev. I love doing these behind the scenes stories. Wish I could find more of them. :-)

  3. Congratulations Lin! I'm eager to see those photos as well. How did you meet up with Craig? Where is the film? I do not see it here. How was the film explosive aside from showing a volcanic eruption?

  4. Sorry Kim... video is now visible. I have no idea what happened, but the blog ate the video. Bad blog. Bad.

  5. I work fir the USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory. In the 90's I received a VHS tape showing the eruption as you are here. (More in it) I would like to get in touch with Craig Martin to find out if we (CVO) can use the video for educational purposes. It is (some) on Utube so I don't know what laws apply.
    Thanks for putting this page out. Call if necessary. Mike Doukas 360 993 8906

  6. Michael, I've passed your number on to Craig so he should be contacting you shortly. I think it's awesome that you're so interested in this film. You may want to peruse my video channel under the name of "wiinterrr" as I have many films that are in the public domain on many quakes in the past. I also have a private collection of the Great AK Quake, from 50 years ago. Heck, I've a lot of images of Mt St Helens, too, that you may find interesting, as well. I'm not a pack rat with material items, but I am definitely one where geological images and videos are concerned. :-) If I can ever be of any help, then do not hesitate to write to me @ Thanks!