Oregon Nature, Waterfalls February 04, 2019
The Legend Surrounding This Famous Oregon Waterfall Is Truly Heartbreaking
Multnomah Falls is Oregon’s most iconic natural wonder. It’s not only beautiful – it’s instantly recognizable, and is said to be the most photographed waterfall in the Beaver State, which is saying a lot considering the wealth of
waterfalls in Oregon. There’s a Native American legend about how this waterfall was created, and it’s absolutely heartbreaking. Have you heard the Legend of Multnomah Falls?
No one knows for sure when the Legend of Multnomah Falls came about, but one thing is for sure - it's a heartbreaking tale of sacrifice and love.
The chief of the Multnomah people was an old man whose one surviving child was a beautiful daughter whom he loved with all his heart. He searched far and wide for the right man to marry her, and once he found the right suitor, his daughter fell deeply in love with the young brave.
The chief hosted a huge celebration of the upcoming wedding, and people came from all over to dance and feast. Unfortunately, the celebration quickly soured as people began to fall ill and die. The children succumbed first, and soon even the strongest warriors were becoming sick and dying suddenly.
The people knew that the Great Spirit was unhappy with them, and the Chief called a council of his wisest councilmen to help find a solution. The oldest medicine man stood and told the others that the Great Spirit had made it known to him that, to save the people, the sacrifice of a young maiden's life must be given. She must be the daughter of a powerful man - a leader of the people.
The daughters of all the chiefs and leaders were gathered together - more than a dozen in all. The Chief looked at them quietly, then turned to his people and told them that there would be no sacrifice. Instead, the people must all bravely meet their deaths from illness, because he would not commit the sacrifice of a young girl.
The Chief's daughter felt that perhaps she should be sacrificed for the good of the people, but she was young and deeply in love, and wanted to live to marry her brave. Still, she couldn't shake the feeling that she was meant to save her people. She slipped away in the night and climbed the trail to the Great River high above the gorge.
As she looked down onto the jagged rocks far below, she cried to the Great Spirit to show her a sign that her sacrifice was needed. As she did so, the full moon appeared over the gorge. It was the sign she needed, and the young maiden looked out over the beautiful scenery, then bravely stepped off the cliff, falling to her death.
The next morning, the people woke up feeling strong and healthy. The sickness had disappeared. Then the Chief noticed that his daughter was missing. He and her young fiancee soon found her body at the bottom of the cliff. The chief cried to the heavens, "Why has this happened? Show me a sign that my daughter lives with the spirits and is at peace!" Just then, a thundering noise arose from high above as a stream of water came falling down from the cliff's edge, tumbling more than 600 feet to the ground to land right at the chief's feet. The waterfall continues to flow today, as a sign of great love and sacrifice.
It's said that every winter, the young maiden returns to Multnomah Falls, all dressed in white. She stands next to the falls to look upon the place where she sacrificed her life to save her people.
For more information about visiting Multnomah Falls, check out
the waterfall’s page on the U.S. Forest Service’s website. Do you have photos of Multnomah Falls? Share them with our readers in the comments!
If you just can’t get enough of this stunning waterfall, check out
these nine stunning photos of a frozen Multnomah Falls.