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WATCH FOR FALLING ROCK

A Local legend

 


I guess that some of my sweetest memories from early childhood are the trips to the mountains and the Stanislaus River of California. It was always so cool to drive out of the insanity that was the Bay Area in the 1960s. The drive itself was a blast. There we’d go, down the freeway in our green Chrysler station wagon. I would always take the very back, having my child-sized space among the luggage and camping gear. My dad was a school teacher and was an expert on keeping us kids entertained.

It would take several hours to get to the mountains from San Jose. I couldn’t wait to see the tall pine trees and smell the forest. As we would climb higher and higher in that old station wagon, we would begin to see “Watch for Falling Rock” signs along the highway. According to my dad, there was a reason that those signs were made and set out all over the mountains of northern California. You see, Falling Rock was the name of a young Indian brave back int he 1800s. He fell in love with the Chief’s beautiful daughter, as did all of the young braves in the tribe. The Chief did not want Falling Rock to marry his daughter because he did not come from an important family.

One day, the Chief came up with a way to determine who would get to have his daughter’s hand in marriage. There would be a race that would be a fifty mile run to the top of the mountain and back. The first one back to the village would have the Chief’s blessing.

On the morning of the race, two riders on ponies were seen leaving the village and heading toward the mountain. As the race began, 15 young men took off together. When it was over, only 14 young men returned. Falling Rock was never seen again.

The young Indian maiden was so grief stricken from the disappearance of Falling Rock that she refused to marry any other brave. She told the Chief to have signs made to remind everyone to watch for Falling Rock. Over the years some folks have claimed to have seen him running through the woods, but he has always disappeared.

I would keep scanning the woods and trails in search of that Indian brave. Not only was it fun, but it kept me from getting bored and restless. I just want to pass it on to those of you who spend time with young children. As an adult, I find it a very charming story.

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