Bridge of the Gods (geologic event)
The original Bridge of the Gods was created during the eighteenth century by the Bonneville Slide, a major
landslidewhich dammed the Columbia River, near present-day Cascade Locks, Oregonin the Pacific Northwestof the United States. The river eventually removed it, but this event is remembered in local legends of the Native Americans as the "Bridge of the Gods".
It is now the name of a
bridge, the Bridge of the Gods, across the Columbia River between Oregonand Washington.
Approximately three hundred years ago a mountain to the north of the Columbia River underwent a large landslide, splitting in two and forming Table Mountain and
Greenleaf Peak. The southern halves of them slid down the mountain and blocked the Columbia Gorge close to modern-day Cascade Locks, Oregonforming a land bridgeapproximately 200 feet (60 m) high.
Early research concluded that the slide took place as early as 1100, but more recent research places it between 1670 and 1760, and suggests that it may have been linked to the
1700 Cascadia earthquake.cite news
title=Science - Landslide Sleuths
May 15, 2002
Native American legend
Native American lore contains numerous legends to explain the eruptions of
Mount St. Helensand other volcanoes in the Cascade Volcanic Arc. The most famous of these is the Bridge of the Gods legend told by the Klickitats. In their tale, the chief of all the gods, Tyhee Saghalie and his two sons, Pahto (also called Klickitat) and Wy'east, traveled down the Columbia River from the Far North in search for a suitable area to settle.Archie Satterfield, "Country Roads of Washington" (Backinprint.com: 2003) ISBN 0-595-26863-3, page 82]
They came upon an area that is now called The Dalles and thought they had never seen a land so beautiful. The sons quarreled over the land and to solve the dispute their father shot two arrows from his mighty bow; one to the north and the other to the south. Pahto followed the arrow to the north and settled there while Wy'east did the same for the arrow to the south. Saghalie then built Tanmahawis, the Bridge of the Gods, so his family could meet periodically.
When the two sons of the Saghalie fell in love with a beautiful maiden named Loowit, she could not choose between them. The two young chiefs fought over her, burying villages and forests in the process. The area was devastated and the earth shook so violently that the huge bridge fell into the river, creating the cascades of the Columbia River Gorge. [ [http://www.theoutlaws.com/indians4.htm The Bridge of the Gods] , theoutlaws.com (accessed 26 November 2006)]
For punishment, Saghalie struck down each of the lovers and transformed them into great mountains where they fell. Wy'east, with his head lifted in pride, became the volcano known today as
Mount Hoodand Pahto, with his head bent toward his fallen love, was turned into Mount Adams. The fair Loowit became Mount St. Helens, known to the Klickitats as Louwala-Clough which means "smoking or fire mountain" in their language (the Sahaptin called the mountain Loowit).cite web|title=Volcanoes and History: Cascade Range Volcano Names|url=http://vulcan.wr.usgs.gov/LivingWith/Historical/volcano_names.html|author=USGS|accessdate=2006-10-20]
Geology of the Pacific Northwest
* cite journal
title=The Submerged Forest of the Columbia River Gorge
volume=Vol. 26, No. 4
* cite book
title=Time Travel in Oregon
* [http://earthquake.usgs.gov/regional/pacnw/paleo/greateq/20020515.html US Geological Survey on possible tie to the Cascadia Earthquake]
* [http://www.firstpeople.us/FP-Html-Legends/The_Bridge_Of_The_Gods-Unknown.html Another legend of the Bridge of the Gods]
* [http://www.mind.net/dlmark/gorgebogwashington.htm A site on the modern-day Bridge of the Gods] , with one excellent image of the slide and some discussion of the history.
* [http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&z=13&ll=45.656288,-121.917&spn=0.048954,0.1157&t=k&om=0 Satellite imagery at Google Maps] . The town of
Cascade Locks, Oregon, is just upstream (to the right), and the Bonneville Damis on the downstream (left) side of the slide. Note how the river dramatically narrows at the location of the slide.
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