History of The Bridge of the Gods

Long 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 magnitude. 

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. 

The 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.

Over 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.

When 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 Wy'East (the singer).  All was peace and happiness, until beautiful Squaw Mountain moved into a small valley between Klickitat and Wy'East. 

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. 

Upon 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.

All 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 since. 

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.

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