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Rowe Findley
Photograph by Jim Richardson

Rowe Findley, a freelance journalist and former NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC assistant editor, covered the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens for the GEOGRAPHIC. Originally from Missouri, he spent 36 months in the United States Air Force during World War II—including combat missions in the western Pacific as a bombardier. He returned home soon after his 21st birthday and later graduated from the University of Missouri with a degree in journalism.

Findley spent ten years writing for Missouri newspapers, including the Kansas City Star, and arrived at the National Geographic Society in May 1959. During his tenure at the Society, he wrote 18 articles and a book. This is his first essay for He lives with his wife in Falls Church, Virginia.

Collector’s note: You can order the January 1981 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, featuring Findley’s classic article on the Mount St. Helens eruption, from our online store.