The Legend of Silent Rock

Actual historical photo of Silent Rock. Circa 1800’s.

By Toby Witte

Whether it’s not calling last run or not parking backwards if there’s a cliff behind you, not wearing cotton in Montana or only looking at the Whale on your way down from Bridger Bowl, there are countless amounts of legends and superstitions in and out of the world of snowboarding. One that is more applicable to us up on Hood for the summer is that of Silent Rock. You may be asking yourself, “What the hell is Silent Rock?” No, kids, it’s not a new music genre that features only the pauses before that crazy guitar lick melts your face off. Silent Rock is a large “man-made” monolithic rock formation on Hwy 26 en route to Mt. Hood. As the legend goes, you must turn of the radio and keep completely silent while passing it or trouble is coming for you that day. It seems nowadays there are many less kids obeying this tradition or even being aware of it, but there are scores of stories and incidents and plain lies about this not-necessarily-historic stretch of 100 yards on Hwy 26 in Oregon’s Mt. Hood Forest.

The ever-so-racy Native American tales date back to before the days of Ski Bums in Government Camp to the early 1800’s. Undoubtedly when the settlers and the local tribes interacted there were disputes. As we all know, America isn’t terribly good at sharing and if we can get people out of our way and call it our own then we might as well. This story goes: settlers would jam rocks into the mouths of the local tribesmen and hurl them off of Silent Rock so they couldn’t scream on the way down. Lucky for the natives, there are also tales of the Native Americans doing just the same to the settlers. Payback is a bitch!

Even Jesus couldn’t save these ladies!

Next up is a full blown confirmed story from back in the 70’s. A flatbed semi hauling two train engines towards Portland lost control just before reaching the fateful Silent Rock and spilled over the barrier, tumbling hundreds of feet down into the valley below. To make it even worse, the truck took out several cars on its way toward the edge, which led to an even larger death toll. Yet another win for the Rock, I guess?

Aside from these generally well known tales, there tens of other little stories that have been started one way or another. Some of my favorites include a bus full of Nuns careening over the edge after the bus driver suffered from a coughing fit, Native Americans funneling settlers through the pass at Silent Rock and taking them out 300-style until they were silent, road workers using too much dynamite and blasting 48 road workers’ shadows into the nearby cliffs. And of course the crème de la crème, Tim Windell “Chad’s Gappping” the hell out of Silent Rock! Who came up with that?! Not to mention the latest that I heard from a certain assistant team manager about High Cascade’s founder, John Ingersoll, doing the same gap, on telemark skis.

Tim Windell didn’t even need snow to gap silent rock. He was that good!

These stories are all really just hearsay though. There is no actual way of proving, or disproving for that matter, them (aside from the truck, maybe.) The true purpose of this rock is to show respect, whether it be for the mountain, the road, the scores of lives lost there and nearby, or just because you’re plain superstitious.

Has anybody else heard a tale that would blow any these out of the water?

32 replies
  1. merOregon
    merOregon says:

    i talked through it once and my friend got hurt and blamed it on me because we were in the same car and i just laughed at him

  2. carson
    carson says:

    Ive heard that a semi truck driver lost his brakes and in order to avoid smashing a car full of family, The truck driver sacrificed himself to save the family and crashed

  3. k
    k says:

    i always keep it quite going through the rock brought up a friend and he talked even after i warned him, he ended up breaking his arm in Paintbrush..
    Another win for Silent Rock

  4. jerm
    jerm says:

    i never obey the silence just to scare the children. also thats how the mute grab was invented when windell gapped it and grabbed right hand on the toe edge, everyone was silent, thus the mute grab was born…

  5. gloverment cramps
    gloverment cramps says:

    i thought you would get raped by a sasquatch ? sadly, me talking through silent rock all these years has yielded no such hairy pleasures

  6. smurph
    smurph says:

    Talked through silent rock just the other day on accident , Got kicked out of HighCascade for the day and locked my keys in my car… yeah i believe in it.

  7. Bad Azz
    Bad Azz says:

    Lil Boosie drove a top notch whip up past silent rock and then he got blamed for 7 counts of murda 187 ya heard? FREE BOOSIE

  8. Sam
    Sam says:

    I can’t believe silent rock got its own piece! But that is rad. Real story behind the curse: Bus full of school children over the edge……However, the curse is merciful because it only applies to those who know about it.

    A few of my own memorable cursings

    Breaking a board(s)
    Losing a five day race in eastern Oregon due to a ridiculous penalty…..
    Breaking a bone in my hand
    Car accident at the tline intersection (I wasn’t driving – Also, I wans’t going to tline)
    and a few other terrible things…

  9. MIKEGrass
    MIKEGrass says:

    i talked wile passing silent rock one day and when i got back to govy that afternoon i had terrible diarrhea. true shit

  10. matt
    matt says:

    These two girls didn’t believe me and blared music while driving through. Later on paintbrush courtney broke her arm in 3 spots . True story

  11. pffff
    pffff says:

    Ride buddy didnt obey silent rock for the first time in his life, intentionally blasting music and yelling on our way to the hill. Later that day he broke his arm, his board was stolen while he was getting patched up and we crashed pretty bad into the guard rail on the way back. -True Story, shits real.

  12. free burberry
    free burberry says:

    when i was a young and naive camper at Windell’s, the driver of our van told us all to scream when we went past it as he blared the music just to mess with Desiree (Melancon). DRay became irate with our failure to adhere to Silent Rock protocol and almost decided to skip riding for the day. She rode and hurt her shoulder pretty severely on a down rail and i under-rotated to scorpion on the knuckle of a small jump. respect the rock.

  13. E.C. Nerolf
    E.C. Nerolf says:

    i heard a parent and their children were driving down from hood and the the kids wouldn’t be quiet, so the mom turned around and yelled at them and drove off the cliff. it’s silent rock now, so it never happens again.

  14. Not sure
    Not sure says:

    I heard that Native Americans bugged it so that when settlers came by they could hear what was said and therefore crash their spot and steal all their booze and weed!!

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