As Twilight descends in theaters across the country on November 21, 2008, movie goers gazing at actors Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart might also, with a little imagination, spot a spectral star on screen during a scene filmed at Multnomah Falls on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge– the image of a Native American girl whose death long ago is said to have given birth to America’s second largest continuously flowing waterfall.
According to legend, on the day that the young woman– the daughter of the Multnomah tribe’s chief– married a warrior from the Clatsop clan an epidemic befell the bride’s people. Advised by a tribal elder that the Great Spirit was angry and must be appeased with the sacrifice of a maiden with a pure heart, the Multnomah chief gathered his tribe’s women to tell them of the dire prophesy. Finding himself unable to condemn anyone to death, however, the chief proclaimed that no one would give up their life.
One by one, those who had attended the wedding of the chief’s daughter succumbed to the plague, and when the man she loved fell ill the destiny of the chief’s daughter became clear. Stealing away in the night, the maiden jumped from a clifftop to the earth below, where her father found her lifeless body. As he cried out to the Great Spirit for proof that his child’s death had meaning, droplets of water began to fall from the cliff’s summit, eternally signifying the sacrifice of one young woman for her people and the man she loved.
Today, two million visitors each year walk along Benson bridge, which stands below the falls, and over the years there have been several sightings of a lady in white standing in the mist. Perhaps, if her soul lingered as the camera rolled, the Native American girl– who was robbed of her own romance– found comfort as she watched the immortal love story unfold.
Photo courtesy Summit Entertainment and Moviefone.com