The Bridge of the Gods
before recorded history began, Indian legend says the People of
the Great River had much difficulty visiting friends and loved
ones on the opposite bank. In response to their pleas, the
Great Spirit built a bridge of stone that was a gift of great
Modern scientists claim that about 1,000 years ago, the mountain
on the Washington side of the Columbia River, near what is now
the small town of Cascade Locks, caved off, blocking the river.
resultant stone bridge, called the Great Cross-Over, was so
important that Manito, the Great Spirit, placed Loo-Wit, an old
and wise woman, as its guardian. The natural dam created by the
bridge was high enough to cause a great inland sea covering the
inland prairies of present-day Washington and Oregon and as far
away as Idaho. For many years, the People used The Great
Cross-Over, and all was well.
time, natural erosion slowly weakened the dam, and finally
washed it out. The waters of the vast inland sea rushed out,
tearing away more of the earth and rocks until a great tunnel
was formed under the mountain range. Fearing that all would
wash away, the People appealed to the Great Spirit to save the
bridge. Manito agreed. When the great out-rush of the inland
sea was finally spent and only the Great River remained, People
were awed by the beautiful natural bridge left over the water.
In grateful thanks to the Great Spirit for saving their bridge
from total destruction, people gave it a new name - the Bridge
of the Gods.
Manito placed Loo-Wit on the bridge as its guardian, he also
sent to earth the great snow mountains, who were really his sons
Multnomah (the warrior), Klickitat (the totem-maker), and
(the singer). All was peace and happiness, until beautiful
Squaw Mountain moved into a small valley between Klickitat and
Though Squaw Mountain grew to love Wy'East, she thought it great
fun to flirt with his big, good-natured brother, Klickitat.
This was the Evil One's opportunity, for a rivalry soon sprang
up between the two brothers for the affections of beautiful
Squaw Mountain. They began quarreling. At first, they argued,
growled and grumbled at each other. They stomped their feet and
spat ashes and fire in the air and belched forth great clouds of
black smoke so that the sun was hidden. Each hurled white-hot
rocks, setting fire to the forests and driving the People into
hiding. Finally, they threw so many stones onto the Bridge of
the Gods and shook the earth so hard that the great stone bridge
broke in the middle and fell into the river.
hearing of this, the Great Spirit was very angry, and he, too,
shook the foundations of the earth. In punishment for the
destruction of the bridge, he caused a great series of rapids to
form steeply in the Great River, creating a total fall of almost
forty feet in less than six miles. It was an powerful reminder
of his anger.
did not go well for the two warring brothers. Klickitat, who
was the largest of the two mountains, won the fight, and Wy'East
admitted defeat, giving over all claim to beautiful Squaw
Mountain. However, loving Wy'East as she did, this was a severe
blow to Squaw Mountain. Though she dutifully went over and took
her place by the side of Klickitat, her heart was broken. In
short time, she fell at Klickitat's feet and sank into a deep
sleep from which she has never awakened. At this time,
Klickitat had a high, straight head, like Wy'East, but he truly
loved Squaw Mountain, and her fate caused him such grief that he
finally dropped his head in shame and has never raised it
During the war between Wy'East and Klickitat, Loo-Wit, the
guardian of the bridge, who was a very old and homely woman,
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 the hot rocks.
When the bridge fell, she fell with it. The Great Spirit heard
of her faithfulness and promised to grant her a wish. She asked
to be made young and beautiful once more, but being old in
spirit, she did not desire companionship. The Great Spirit
granted Loo-Wit her wish, and he turned her into the most
beautiful of all the mountains, giving her great power and
allowing her to withdraw from the main mountain range to settle
by herself far to the west.
Today, you will find these mountains in the Cascades. Multnomah
is Mt. Rainer, Klickitat is Mt. Adams, and Wy'East is Mt. Hood.
The beautiful Squaw Mountain is now the peaceful Sleeping
Beauty, and she lies where she fell, just west of Mt. Adams.
And Loo-Wit? She is the youngest mountain in the Cascades, the
beautiful and powerful Mt. St. Helens.