Mount Timpanogos is my favorite mountain. I love the legend behind it also…
THE LEGEND (there are several versions)
But here is one version from
Eugene L. “Timp” Roberts 1922 Version:
Timpanogos was angry. The mountain-god shook the hills and the valleys with the power of his passion. All living things skulked into secret places and waited. Timpanogos cursed the streams until they bore no fish and his people were starving at his feet. Not even the medicine men could discern the cause of his mood, but with dark ceremony did they seek to appease him. For many days and nights they did call to him for mercy.
They beat their heads with rawhide thongs until the blood coursed over their brown bodies; but without avail. Timpanogos demanded the last measure of the tribe’s contrition: he yearned for the Sacrificial Maiden.
With the doleful beating of toms-toms the priest moved among the people calling them to the dance of sacrifice and tribesmen dragged all the young women and the fair girls before the sacred altar that the angry god might choose his victim.
Now among the women was the daughter of the chief and the best beloved and most beautiful of all the maidens. Because she was as beautiful as the evening sunset and as lovable as the warmth of early spring, the redmen feared that the mountain-god would covet her. Twice before they watched her take her turn in drawing the dreaded lot. Each time they saw her come forth safe while one of her sisters was chosen.
Once more her people stood in terror with breath baited while Utahna approached the funeral pyre, and blindfolded reached for one of the sacred stones. As her shapely hand encircled an oval flint and drew it forth a murmur arose throughout the assembled tribe. Alas, the touch of Timpanogos was upon the stone; the finger print of the god was deep laid in its adamant surface.
The chief and all his household fell upon the earth and buried their faces in the rocky soil, and they groveled in despair, while the men and the women of the tribe streaked their bodies with white clay and danced the dance of death around sobbing Utahna.
Four stalwart braves, anointed with human blood, let Utahna from the multitude toward the threshold of Timpanogos. They took her to the portals of the canyon entrance from which gushed the stream which bathed the feet of Timpanogos. Here with solemn words they left her, for none but she might tread the sacred ground. Somewhere among the vast amphitheaters near the crest of the mountain brooded the Great Spirit. She must find him alone.
Utahna struggled along the trail-less mountain side until she reached a wild stream tearing its way southward through a narrow fork of the canyon. Along this stream and toward the mountain top she took her way until the canyon road widened into an upland valley. She was startled to see blue smoke curling its way skyward through the aspens and to hear the chant of numerous voices.
Peering between the tress Utahna saw a tribe of redmen dancing a dance of joy before their tepees. How dared these people tread the sacred ground of Timpanogos! Were they mortal or spirits? What should she do? Would they destroy her before she had saved her tribesmen? With these queries in her troubled brain, Utahna skirted the village, creeping behind the wild rose and the mountain berry. When safely beyond the strange people, she ran along the banks of the stream like a frightened fawn.
Utahna heard not the soft tread of a brown moccasined foot behind her as she ran. Stealing through the underbrush was Red Eagle, a Indian brave of the strange tribe and the son of its chief, who returning from a bear hunt had spied the creeping maiden as she stole past his people. Red Eagle tracked the fleeing girl along the banks of the stream until the canyon once more broadened into a beautiful mountain valley forested with the pine and the aspen. Here she turned to the left and started straight for the peaks of Timpanogos. Beside a roaring cataract, Utahna rested and Red Eagle too paused behind the wild oak bushes.
Next he followed her up the steep sides of slanting ledges, then through deep flower beds and under spraying waterfalls, until at last she reached the floor of broad amphitheaters carpeted with flower beds, studded with emerald ponds, and walled with giant cliffs. Here she paused in terror and Red Eagle too felt himself in the presence of mystic powers. He wanted to spring to Utahna’s side for the strange maiden had gripped his heart, and he was half afraid both for her and himself.
Then Utahna, with an effort at courage, once more began her journey. She hurried over small hills and through tiny valleys to the feet of a deep glacier winding its way from the mountain crest and ending in a beautiful lake. Along the surface of this river of ice she climbed while red Eagle followed concealing himself in crevasses when she paused for breath.
After reaching the rim, Utahna saw the great valley at her feet. Way in the distance she saw the smoke rising from her village and she thought she heard the moaning and the pleading of her people. Taking new courage from the thought of her great sacrifice, she sped along the narrow rim of the mountain until she reached the topmost peak. Here the cliffs fell away thousands of feet and she felt the cool breath of the mountain god on her cheeks. Into the depths she peered and trembled.
When Red Eagle scaled the peak, the girl was standing upon the brink of the precipice chanting a ceremony of appeal and sacrifice and preparing to leap into space. From her sobbing chant he gathered the import of her journey, the purpose of her sacrifice. Just as Utahna was making ready to leap into the mystic arms of Timpanogos, and fulfill her fate with her life, Red Eagle spoke softly to her. She turned and in superstitious terror, threw herself at his feet. In broken half audible expression she pleaded with him to receive the pleadings of her people and to accept her as the wanted sacrifice.
Red Eagle understood and was tempted. Impulse and new-born passion determined his deception. He bade her rise and follow him. Back down the rim of the mountain they went in silence. Red Eagle was torn with fears and yet he was led by the love of his beautiful maiden. He knew not Timpanogos, neither did he fear this strange god; but with all he was pretending to be divine and that was sacrilegious. Silently he brooded as he picked a path down the mountain side; silently he planned. He must possess the maiden and yet if she knew him to be mortal she would carry out her sacrifice. He must not return to his people or she would learn the truth and destroy herself.
Turning away from the direction of their ascent Red Eagle broke into a new and wild country to the north while the wondering maiden followed in quiet. Down the sides of unknown hills they went until their path led them among giant ledges. He must go forth in confidence or she would learn the truth, and yet he knew not where to go. Along a narrow terrace he led Utahna until they came upon the forbidding face of a dark cliff. Red Eagle trembled for his path was blocked.
A low growl coming from the thick berry bushes upon the terrace roused Red Eagle out of his stupor of fear and indecision and as he sprang in the direction of the growl he saw a bear loping hurriedly away from the mouth of a cave.
Into the cave Red Eagle walked and was thrilled to see a large enclosure walled with myriads of glistening rock icicles and floored with mystic altars deep colored in sacred red. Once more the deceiving Indian was tempted and turning to the awe-stricken maiden. He bade her enter and told her that her sacrifice was accepted. Her people would be blessed and that she should reside with him in the crystal palace forever.
Utahna’s heart leaped for joy. This then was the human sacrifice. To be the bride of Timpanogos and to live with him in his wondrous palace was the price she should pay for her people’s blessings. Why was the truth not known? Why should her tribesmen mourn her loss, and all the fair maidens dread the fatal selection?
For many moons did Red Eagle and Utahna reside within the brilliant cave and their happiness was truly godlike. When the storms would break upon the mountain top and the lightening would tear across the sky, Utahna would search the face of Red Eagle to ascertain the cause of his mood and Red Eagle would feign anger and would brood in silence until the storm was over. When the days were calm and beautiful and the flowers sent forth their delightful fragrance, Red Eagle would sport about the cliffs and flower beds with Utahna in her arms and all the world was joy.
He brought her fresh killed deer and the berries from dangerous heights. She prepared him meat over the camp fire and she awed that he could eat like her. She was delighted and surprised too that he could thrill like her at human love and passion. But with all this he was all-powerful. He controlled the storms. He feared not the wild beasts. He went forth without weapons and brought back fresh killed meat.
But, alas, her dream was doomed to end as all dreams must end that are built upon deception. One day the low growl of the grizzly was once more heard as the bear sought its favorite lair. Red Eagle sprang behind the wild rose and returned with bow and arrow. He attacked the angry beast but was wounded before he could drive it away.
For days the sad Utahna nursed her wounded lover and in the ravings of his fever she learned the truth. Loyal to him even at the risk of incurring the displeasure of her god, she nursed him back to health and prepared in secret for her great duty. One day when Red Eagle returned to the cave he found it empty and Utahna gone. With fear gripping his heart, he set out for the heights of Timpanogos.
When he reached the giant amphitheater at the foot of the glacier he saw a tiny form perched upon the highest peak and leaning towards the yawning depths. His wild call was lost in the distance. Suddenly the figure raised its arms in supplication and then Red Eagle saw the body of his beloved hurtling through space, falling from ledge to ledge, until it dropped a mangled mass at his feet.
For a moment he shrank away from what was once his beloved bride. Then he raised the bleeding form of his bride to his arms and tread slowly and solemnly back to their crystal cave. In one of the hidden chambers, Red Eagle laid Utahna beside a mirroring pond, and brooded over her in silence until his lifeless body sank beside her.
Then the great god, Timpanogos, did a wondrous thing. Up from the bodies of his children he commanded their bleeding hearts to rise and merge into one. And over the lifeless bodies rose a great heart and fastened itself to the brilliant cave ceiling.
This great heart hangs to this day over the sacred place in the burial chamber of Red Eagle and Utahna.