The Great Spirit settled a land dispute between two brothers by giving them each territory on opposite sides of the Columbia. The Great Spirit made a bridge across the river as a sign of peace.
Cloud shrouded trees at the edge of the Columbia
The Great Spirit sent an Old Woman (who still had fire) to the middle of the bridge to tend the fire for the people on both sides of the river. In exchange for this task the Old Woman was made young and beautiful.
Soon, the lodges were warm again and the people lived in harmony.
Wyeast, a chief from south of the river and Klickitat a chief from north of the river began to vie for the attention of the beautiful young woman (Loo-wit) who tended the fire.
Mt St. Helens (Loo-wit) and Mt. Adams (Klickitat) ... um, o crap, maybe the one on the right is Rainer...um...but for sure the flat one on the left is St. Helens
Wyeast and Klickitat became jealous of each other. They fought. Their people took up the fight for them. Many warriors were killed.
The Great Spirit became angry and broke down the bridge. He turned the chiefs into mountains. Wyeast became Mt. Hood. Klickitat became Mt. Adams and the woman they fought over became Mt. St. Helens.
Even as mountains, the two chiefs continued to fight, sometimes hurling hot rocks and flame at each other.
Mt. St. Helens (not as pretty as she used to be)
Geological studies suggest that, not so long ago, a good portion of Table Mountain sheered off and slid into the Columbia, a historical event that may be the basis for the Bridge of the Gods legend.
Table Mountain as it appears from a logging road somewhere above Gillette Lake
NOTE: My source for this paraphrase of the Bridge of the Gods Legend is found in Indian Legends of the Northwest by Ella E. Clark. Evidently, Professor Clark's source for this Klickitat variant of the story was a woman named Lulu Crandall, a historian of the Dalles area who had some familiarity with Klickitat Indians because of her 'pioneer childhood'.