Bridge of the Gods
The Klickitat, Yakima, and Warm Springs people of the Pacific Northwest all share a legend describing the creation and destruction of a massive stone bridge spanning the Columbia River between Skamania County and Cascade Locks, Oregon.
According to the Klickitat version, two great chiefs, Klickitat and Wy’East were given rich new lands by the Great Spirit, their respective lands separated by the Columbia. As a symbol of peace, the Great Spirit built an enormous bridge across the river, connecting the two territories. Unfortunately, the two groups took to fighting, and in the ensuing chaos, the enormous bridge was destroyed.
It’s believed that the legend refers to a historical event — roughly 500 years ago, a powerful landslide was said to have blocked the Columbia river until the water flow eroded all but a slender bridge that crossed the river. Eventually, that bridge collapsed, but the rocks from the bridge have come to form the Columbia Rapids.
Today, the modern steel-and-concrete Bridge of the Gods spans the river close to where the legendary bridge was thought to have been. In order to cross, you no longer have to contend with Loo-Wit, the appointed guardian of the bridge, but you will have to pay a buck in tolls.
© Ericka Chickowski from Moon Washington, 8th edition