The Quest for Dave Crockett's Car

One of my favorite survivor’s stories of all time is up at Rosetta Stones. Go meet Dave Crockett, watch the video he shot as he struggled to survive on the slopes of Mount St. Helens in the middle of the eruption, and marvel at the fact that both he and his car survived.

There’s a personal story to be told about that car. You see, as I was researching for that piece, I discovered that his car had been recovered and was displayed at 19 Mile House. “Yay!” said I when I discovered that’s where a highly-rated little restaurant called Patty’s Place is. “We can have homemade cobbler, scenery, and Dave Crockett’s car!”

Only Cujo did some sniffing round the intertoobz, and discovered it’s been moved to the Hoffstadt Bluffs Visitor Center. Not a problem. They have cobbler, too. (And, it turns out, the best homemade ranch dressing I’ve ever tasted.)

But they haven’t yet got Dave Crockett’s car displayed. It’s been stashed down by the fuel tanks for the helicopters. The folks at the center didn’t seem to think it would be a problem for us to head down for a look, but the huge signs saying “Don’t even think about it” persuaded us otherwise. We saw a Volvo, but it turned out not to be the Volvo. [Nevermind. Got me cars crossed – shall quest for the Mercury Monarch, and might have a bit more success.] Sigh.

We’ll await the day when they decide where to publicly display Crockett’s car, then make another pilgrimage. It’s worth it for the cobbler alone. Yum! Also, the views from Hoffstadt are outstanding. And you can watch helicopters take off for flights around the volcano.

We did Patty’s Place on the second day, because cobbler, and theirs is also delightful. Also, they have this logging truck parked out front. It obviously was a witness to the eruption:

Suzanne et moi standing in front of a logging truck that did not weather the eruption unscathed.

One of my research projects for this winter is to try to run down that truck’s story.

If you make the trip to Mount St. Helens, I can personally recommend the cherry cobbler from Patty’s Place. Get it to go, warm it in the microwave a bit, scoop some vanilla gelato atop it, and have a foodgasm. I think seeking out strange relics from geologic events at wayside eateries is going to become a new thing with me, because the results are delicious, even when the relic isn’t the one sought.

One of you mentioned the possibility of field trips a while back. I am not averse to this idea, so if any of you want to join me in these excursions, let me know. Bring an appetite.

The Quest for Dave Crockett's Car
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14 thoughts on “The Quest for Dave Crockett's Car

  1. rq

    Done and done, referring to Dave Crockett’s post. FREAKY FREAKY STUFF, that video, considering it’s a real, eye-witness video, not a computer reconstruction…

    And on another note:
    You make me jealous with all these invitations! At least I can make cobbler at home, thank you very much, and a very delicious one too. ;) (It’s never around for too long, seems to disappear within a day or so…) But be warned, the day will come when I will come to you with a whole LIST of excursions promised by you, to me, via your (irresponsible) blogging. :) I will expect to be thoroughly educated.

  2. 3

    I will admit, my first reaction to your headline was, “Dave Crockett died in 1836; Karl Benz didn’t build the first actual car until 1885. That would be some quest!”

    Then I read your post. I think it was cooler than what I had in mind.

  3. 4

    We were just at the mountain in August, now we’ll have to go again! Too bad my wife wouldn’t be able to eat the cobbler.

    I remember all too well watching Crockett’s video at the time. Eerie doesn’t do it justice.

  4. 6

    That video he shot while walking up the ridge toward the light is mesmerizing. His raw heroism fighting through his circumstances is absolutely riveting. This clip is in a movie about volcanoes that I show my high school students and even having viewed it umpteen times, it is always compelling.

    Just one niggling point…the reference to a Volvo is confusing me. Dave Crockett’s KOMO company news car #5 car was a Mercury Monarch and if you go searching for it again, that’s what you should be looking for. I’m not sure where the Volvo reference comes from unless it is the very boxy front end of those Mercurys that certainly suggests a Volvo (spoken as the proud former owner of no less than 3 Volvo cars).

  5. 10

    Great post and cobbler is definitely a good reason for a road trip. I believe you may have been looking for the wrong car. I watched the video and the car looked like a Ford Granada to me. It is hard to imagine a local news affiliate having a Volvo as a company car, especially back then. Maybe Dave’s car was there, but you were confused by an imposter Volvo? Good luck in the hunt for old cars and cobbler.

  6. 13

    That’s no Volvo to be sure. russvance has the definitive image at his link.

    There was another car on the side of the road coming in from the north, when I visited there about 5 years after. The heat had taken all the paint and the tires, so it was rust from one end to the other. The hood and roof were covered in dents from falling rock fragments, mostly golf ball sized and smaller. Don’t know if it was the heat or the rocks that took out all the glass.

    They had put up a chain link fence around it to keep idiots from messing with it, but it didn’t seem like anyone cared to preserve it.

    If there had been anyone in or near the car when it happened, they wouldn’t have had a chance.

    Heard that sucker go off, just whoomp. It was a Sunday morning on the south slope of Vancouver, BC. Google Earth says it was 212 miles away. Thought a truck had run into a house or something.

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