Long before recorded history began, the Native American legend of the Bridge of the Gods says the Great Spirit built a bridge of stone that was a gift of great magnitude. The Great Spirit, named Manito, placed a wise old woman named Loo-Wit, on the bridge as its guardian. He then sent to earth his three sons, Multnomah, the warrior; Klickitat (Mount Adams), the totem-maker; and Wyeast (Mount Hood), the singer. Peace lived in the valley until beautiful Squaw Mountain moved in between Klickitat and Wyeast. The beautiful woman mountain grew to love Wyeast, but also thought it fun to flirt with his big brother, Klickitat. Soon the brothers began to quarrel over everything, stomping their feet and throwing fire and rocks at each other. Finally, they threw so many rocks onto the Bridge of the Gods and shook the earth so hard that the bridge broke in the middle and fell in to the river.

Klickitat, who was the larger of the two mountains, won the fight, and Wyeast admitted defeat, giving over all claim to beautiful Squaw Mountain. In a short time, Squaw Mountain became very heartbroken for she truly loved Wyeast. One day she fell at Klickitat’s feet and sank into a deep sleep from which she never awakened. She is now known as the Sleeping Beauty and lies where she fell, just west of Mount Adams.

During the war between Wyeast and Klickitat, Loo-Wit, the guardian of the bridge, tried to stop the fight. When she failed, she stayed at her post and did her best to save the bridge from destruction, although she was badly burned and battered by hot rocks.

When the bridge fell, she fell with it. The Great Spirit placed her among the great snow mountains, but being old in spirit, she did not desire companionship and so withdrew from the main range to settle by herself far to the west. Today you will find her as Mount St. Helens, the youngest mountain in the Cascades.

Scientists say that about 1,000 years ago, the mountain on the Washington side of the Columbia River, near what is now the town of Stevenson, caved off, blocking the river. The natural dam was high enough to cause a great inland sea covering the prairies as far away as Idaho. For many years, natural erosion weakened the dam and finally washed it out. These waters of the inland sea rushed out, tearing away more of the earth and rocks until a great tunnel was formed under the mountain range leaving a natural bridge over the water. The bridge was called “The Great Cross Over” and is now named “The Bridge of the Gods.”

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

Material for this article provided by the Port of Cascade Locks, Oregon

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