Legend of Multnomah Falls

Legend of Multnomah Falls

Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

Multnomah Falls is the most famous waterfall in the Columbia River Gorge. There are numerous legends from the native Multnomah people concerning the creation of the falls. The legend says that many years ago the head chief of the Multnomah people had a beautiful young daughter. Because the chief had lost all of his sons in battle, he cherished his daughter with all of his heart. He chose her husband from the neighboring Clatsop people with great care. Because the young maiden and her soon-to-be husband were beloved by the two peoples, a great wedding feast was planning. Many people from all the tribes came.

However, a great sickness befell the people. After confiding in council, an old medicine man told the chief of a prophecy that a disease that would befall the people. A young maiden, the daughter of a chief, must sacrifice herself to save their people. The head chief refused to allow this. However, when the young maiden discovered her soon to be husband stricken by the disease as well. She went up to the top of the cliffs and jumped.

The next morning, the people found the young maiden on the rocks below. Her father, the chief, prayed to the Great Spirit to show a sign that his daughter had been welcomed in the afterlife. At once, the water began to fall, and Multnomah Falls were formed.

If you visit Multnomah Falls, they certainly have a legendary feel to them. On the day this was shot, the falls were roaring. A winter storm brought enough snow and rain to the mountains to bring spring-like water levels to all the waterfalls in the gorge. The wind was whipping around, which made much of the shrubbery around the falls a blur of green. Between the wind and the power of the falls, it was a hassle just keep the water from spraying all over the lens as I took this shot. As best as I can tell, this also caused a small amount of condensation on the lens, which actually enhanced the spirit and feel of the image above in my opinion.

Photo © copyright Mickey Shannon.

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