The Klickitat tribe of Washington and Oregon has an extraordinary legend, known as the Legend of the Mountains, about an ancient quarrel between two brothers that we now know as the Cascade volcanoes, Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood.

Long ago, Tyhee Saghalie, the chief of all the gods, traveled down the Columbia River with his two sons in search of a place to stay. The sons, Pahto and Wy’east, had a complex relationship and when they finally came to an area where they wanted to live, the sons began to argue. Each wanted this beautiful land for themselves.

To settle this quarrel, the chief shot two arrows from his bow. He shot the first one to the north and the second to the south and then told the boys that they would have to live in the place where each of the arrows landed. Pahto followed the arrow to the north and Wy’east followed the arrow to the south.

Tyhee wanted his family to be content, so he built a bridge between the north and the south. This bridge became known as the Bridge of the Gods. And for many years the family used the bridge to meet.

But then— both of the sons fell in love with a beautiful woman named Loowit. She could not choose between Pahto and Wy’east.

So Pahto and Wy’east went to battle with one another. They threw fire at each other and destroyed the Bridge of the Gods. When the bridge fell, the earth was ruined. The collapse of the bridge created a substantial crack between the north and the south which we now know as the Columbia River Gorge.

The destruction from this war was so great that Saghalie was insulted by his sons and their aggression. As punishment he changed all three of the lovers into great mountains. Wy’east became Mt. Hood; Pahto became Mt. Adams; and the maiden Loowit became Mt. St. Helens.

LEGEND: an unverifiable story handed down by tradition from earlier times and popularly accepted as historical

photo by Jeff Kraemer /

Click here to view the story of the Legend of the Mountains on the Mighty Volcanic Mountains page