Saturday, June 5, 2010

Vagabond Haven Destroyed. 45 Drifters Killed

EUGENE, Ore. (Reuters) – Long considered dormant, Big Rock Candy Mountain erupted unexpectedly Friday at 5:49 p.m. PDT causing the deaths of 45 migrant laborers. The eruption, which could be felt as far away as Portland, was the most destructive volcanic event in the contiguous 48 states since Mount St. Helens exploded on May 18, 1980.

A favorite destination for hoboes due to its unique ecosystem, Big Rock Candy Mountain was one of the few places in the U.S. where a bum could stay for many a day and not need any money. Those killed were part of a group of bindlestiffs who had been encamped -- or "jungling" -- near the mountain for several weeks.

The blast, which was some 1,600 times more powerful than the nuclear warhead dropped on Hiroshima, ejected enough confectioner’s sugar to cover the island of Manhattan to a depth of 18 feet and leveled cigarette trees up to 20 miles from the crater. The resulting plume reached a height of 15 miles.

The damage to the environment surrounding the mountain was extensive and the effects will be felt for decades. One lake of stew and one of whiskey, too, were completely destroyed. Experts predict it will take years for milk and honey to return to the area.

The last major eruption of a candy mountain was in 1849 in Hershey, Penn.

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