On the outskirts of Portland, Oregon, lies one of the nation's natural wonders, Multinomah Falls. In our quest to Sturgis, we'll be stopping to look for Frodo and Legolas as we visit the location that portions of Lord of the Rings were inspired by and filmed at. While Tolkien spun a good yarn, turns out their are more stories and legends about the falls.
The Multinomah people have a legend that says their chief had a beautiful daughter. She was his only child, as his sons had all been killed in battles, and he was an old man. He took great care in choosing her a husband, who was a young chief from a neighboring tribe. At time of great joy accompanied her wedding ceremony, but it is said that the happy time was overshadowed, when an illness came over the village. It took the lives of strong men and young children in only one day. "The great spirit is angry with us", the people said to each other. "What can we do to appease the Great Spirit?" they asked. The councilmen of the tribe all agreed that there was nothing they could do, but that they would die bravely, as their people always did. All but one agreed. He was an old man, and told them of the secret to his long life. "A maiden maiden, who is pure, and the daughter of a chief, must willingly give her life, and throw her self from the cliff above the big river, to the rocks below". The chief refused the plan, but his daughter had heard, and had doubts. She wished to live and be married, but she also had great love for her people.
As days went by, the sickness eventually struck her husband to be. Faced with his death, and her love for him, she silently left the village and went to the cliff above the river. With a prayer to the Great Spirit, she threw herself from the cliff. The next morning, laughter and joy was heard in the camp, and the sickness was gone. In their joy, they searched for their loved ones, and the chief found his daughter missing. He was distraught and sent his warriors to search for her. They found her lying on the rocks below the cliff, and there they buried her. Her father in his grief, prayed to the Great Spirit for a token that his daughter had found a place in the spirit world. As he spoke, the rush of water was heard high above, and a stream of silver white water broke over the cliff to fall at their feet. The water continued to flow, and so was born Multinomah Falls.
Whether you like the Native American legend, or the great film The Lord of the Rings, there's no denying that Multinomah Falls is one of the great stops on our quest to Sturgis. As we take in the surreal landscape of the falls, we'll keep our sharp eyes peeled for pointy eared archers and small people with large hairy feet. Stay tuned next time for another LRS Myths, Legends and Tales from the Road...
By Jeremy West