Mount Pelee

The day the sleeping giant erupted on Martinique was a day that remains one of the most prominent and memorable in all of Martinique history. The Mount Pelee volcano took the lives of all St Pierre residents but one in only a few moments. The single survivor was held captive in the underground cell of a local jail. For more than two centuries, Mount Pelee, a strato volcano, sat looming over the now historic town of St Pierre, towering some 1400 meters above the small settlement and was not considered an ominous threat. Mount Pelee facts point to the large volcano"s presence as a point of pride in the settled area. The people of St Pierre thought of the sleeping giant as "theirs" and enjoyed its close proximity and beauty.

When visiting Mt Pelee Martinique visitors have a chance to look deeper into the island's history and the happenings that have played a part in shaping its interesting past. Many visitors are under the impression that the eruption of Mount Pelee came as a total surprise. However, Mount Pelee facts point out that the villagers did indeed receive warnings from the volcano weeks before its lethal explosion. On April 2, 1902, the Mt Pelee volcano shot clouds of hot steam from its peak, though at that time in history little was known about events that may lead to a volcanic eruption. A few weeks later, on April 23, 1902, the volcano sent shocks through the land and sent a light ash rain over the town. According to further Mount Pelee facts, two days later pumice and ash spurted out from the top of Mount Pelee and out over the surrounding area.

With little known about volcanic activity, authorities weren't concerned about the volcano's liveliness. Near the beginning of May in 1902 at the base of Mt Pelee Martinique, residents became concerned about the constant spurt of ash and the pungent smell of gas emitting from the apex. The smell of gas grew more caustic and locals became more concerned and afraid. There was a roar so loud and thunderous it shook the land beneath the mountain on May 7, 1902, shocking residents in the surrounding area. Dual craters near the pinnacle of the Mount Pelee volcano glowed fiery red with a large cloud above releasing flashes of bright lightening.

The very next morning the eruption of Mount Pelee finally occurred. Two massive jet-black clouds consisting of blazing volcanic substances raged out of Mount Pelee, one shooting straight into the air and the other cast straight toward St Pierre. The avalanche of burning material was catastrophic, annihilating the entire town of 30,000 people in just a few minutes. The eruption of Mount Pelee continued even after the initial burst yet the town itself was already completely ruined. Today the sleeping giant only sleeps deeply. The volcano is still considered active and emits light seismic activity from time to time.

Today tourists can enjoy many fun things to do at Mt Pelee Martinique. Hiking is a popular pastime, which enables visitors to soak in the geography of the area surrounding the volcano. There are several great hikes circling the area that hikers of all levels can enjoy. At just over 1640 feet elevation, Mount Pelee has hot volcanic springs that hikers can soak in on a trip up or down. Visitors can also explore the ruins left behind by the eruption and discover many more Mount Pelee facts at the local Volcanological Museum. From St Pierre, visitors can also travel south along the western shores, visiting attractions such as the many beautiful beaches and famous Fort de France.

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