MOUNT HOOD, OREGON — Among the snow-crowned monarchs of the “New Northwest” one of the most imposing is Mount Hood. Its height is 11,570 feet, but it appears even greater because of its fine conical form, piercing the azure in the likeness of a pyramid of silver. Around its base are miles of gloomy forests, from which this mountain rises heavenward in its robe of purity, as some celestial visitor might withdraw from the dark evil passions of mankind. As these trees reach the flanks of the great mountain, they strikingly resemble the advance-guard of a mighty army, which can go no further towards scaling the gigantic fortress above them, apparently half granite and half crystal. There has evidently been a conflict here between the forces of Life and of Death; and as the snow-line comes in sight Death creates fearful havoc in the ranks of the invaders. Many of these trees are twisted and broken by wind and avalanche, and everywhere we see the bleached and mouldering forms of those who have succumbed to winter’s cold. Mount Hood is beautiful at any time, but never is it so wonderfully impressive as when the full-orbed moon rises above this sea of giant pines to pour an added flood of silver over its mantle of eternal snow. At such a time, when Mount Hood cuts its dazzling silhouette against the dark blue sky, one can imagine it a mighty iceberg drifting in crystal splendor from the Polar sea. (from John L. Stoddard, Glimpses of the world; a portfolio of photographs of the marvelous works of God and man – 1892)
The Multnomah name for Mount Hood was Wy’east. In one version of the legend, the two sons of the Great Spirit Sahale fell in love with the beautiful maiden Loowit, who could not decide which to choose. The two braves, Wy’east and Klickitat, burned forests and villages in their battle over her. Sahale became enraged and smote the three lovers. Seeing what he had done, he erected three mountain peaks to mark where each fell. He made beautiful Mount St. Helens for Loowit, proud and erect Mount Hood for Wy’east, and the somber Mount Adams for the mourning Klickitat.
There are other versions of the legend. In another telling, Wy’east (Hood) battles Pahto (Adams) for the fair La-wa-la-clough (St. Helens). Or again Wy’east, the chief of the Multnomah tribe, competed with the chief of the Klickitat tribe. Their great anger led to their transformation into volcanoes. Their battle is said to have destroyed the Bridge of the Gods and thus created the great Cascades Rapids of the Columbia River.
The mountain was given its present name on October 29, 1792, by Lt. William Broughton, a member of Captain George Vancouver’s discovery expedition. Lt. Broughton observed its peak while at Belle Vue Point of what is now called Sauvie Island during his travels up the Columbia River, writing, “A very high, snowy mountain now appeared rising beautifully conspicuous in the midst of an extensive tract of low or moderately elevated land [location of today’s Vancouver, Washington], and seemed to announce a termination to the river.” Lt. Broughton named the mountain after Lord (Samuel) Hood, a British Admiral at the Battle of the Chesapeake.
Lewis and Clark spotted the mountain on October 18, 1805. A few days later at what would become The Dalles, Clark wrote, “The pinnacle of the round topped mountain, which we saw a short distance below the banks of the river, is South 43-degrees West of us and about 37 miles (60 km). It is at this time topped with snow. We called this the Falls Mountain, or Timm Mountain.” Timm was the native name for Celilo Falls. Clark later noted that it was also Vancouver’s Mount Hood.
Two French explorers from the Hudson’s Bay Company may have traveled into the Dog River area east of Mount Hood in 1818. They reported climbing to a glacier on “Montagne de Neige” (Mountain of Snow), probably Eliot Glacier. (from Wikipedia)
- On Mount Hood: A Biography of Oregon’s Perilous Peak
- Mount Hood: A Complete History
- Mount Hood: The Heart of Oregon
- Mount Hood National Forest