Friday, June 4, 2010

Legend Of the Spirit In the Mist

Glen Onoko Falls image from Waymarking

Glen Onoko, located in Carbon County, was known as Hatchet Falls back in the day, and it has an ancient legend of love and denial attached to its falling waters.

Its said that the spirit of Indian princess Onoko haunts the Falls, on the east side of Broad Mountain. There are two stories involving her.

The first is that she was in love with a white settler, upsetting her dad, the Chief, no end. He had the guy thrown over the falls to his death, solving one problem but causing another when his daughter, witnessing her Romeo's execution, also threw herself over the falls to join her lover eternally.

The second is pretty similar, except the suitor rejected by her pop was Opachee, a mere brave and thus unworthy of his daughter's hand in the chief's eyes. She tossed herself over the falls when the Chief forbid their marriage. Pretty picky guy, if you ask us.

At any rate, legend goes that at 9:15 AM of any bright, sunny morning, the "Spirit of the Mist," as Onoko's ghost is known, appears as a veiled Lady in White floating over the boiling waters below the Falls.

Charles Skinner, in his 1896 book Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land, has his own tale. In his story, Onoko is a mighty Lenni-Lanape chief. He was big, strong, and daring. Onoko was engaged to Wenonah, the fairest of her tribe, and had known nothing but success in peace, war, and love.

And as we all know, nothing tweaks the gods as much as a godlike mortal. The envious Miche Manitou, a Delaware tribe evil spirit akin to the Norse Loki, had all he could take of the noble Onoko.

One day while the happy pair were paddling around in a canoe whispering sweet nothings, Manitou struck. Skinner described him with "the scowl of hatred...on his face, thunder crashed about his head, and fire snapped from his eyes..." He was one peeved spirit.

He split the mountains, creating a huge crevasse 1,000 feet deep. The waters rushed through them, carrying our suddenly star-crossed lovers to certain doom. They wrapped their arms around each other and met their fate together. Manitou stormed back to his mountain lair, no doubt thinking it was good to be a god.

No ghosties came from the Skinner lore, just a couple of geographic tidbits. The watery chasm that Manitou created is now known as the Lehigh River. And the memory of Onoko is forever preserved in the name of a glen and cascade a short distance above Mauch Chunk.

Be careful if you want to take a little trek and try to spy Onoko. Glen Onoko Falls Trail is a very intense loop hike with 875 foot rise. A sign at the trail head warns hikers that several people have fallen to their deaths on the path. But if you can get there in one piece, it's worth the trip.

No comments: