Here’s where the public really began to notice what was going on. By March 27, Cowlitz County had put up a roadblock on the Spirit Lake Highway, the main road going to Mt. St. Helens from the west. Loggers were allowed through since Weyerhauser was still clearcutting the land out that way; scientists and journalists also had access. Initially even homeowners could sometimes talk their way in, though this would change as the danger grew more apparent. The roadblock was meant to keep out sightseers, but many wound their way through back roads and logging roads. Moreover, the roadblock was moved several times; if it was moved further away from the mountain for safety and to cut off access to some of the side routes, business owners would complain, and so it would be moved back.

These points of tension would increase, as would the pressure growing beneath the mountain.

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