Silent Rock – Rhododendron, Oregon - Atlas Obscura

Rhododendron, Oregon

Silent Rock

According to legend, you must remain completely silent while passing this man-made mound or suffer the consequences. 

As you drive up to Mt. Hood coming through the city of Rhododendron, you will pass a large mound before driving past an overlook of a valley. The large mound may be easy to miss, but it has a strange local superstition surrounding it.

Whenever you pass this mound, named “Silent Rock”, you must be absolutely silent; stop talking, radio turned off, some people even hold their breath so as to be as silent as possible. The legend goes that if a sound is made while passing Silent Rock, misfortune will ensue. This could be anything from breaking a ski pole, to breaking a leg, to a car breaking down, or even a bus falling down into the valley below. There are hundreds of different testimonials surrounding this superstition.

No one is exactly sure where this superstition came from, although there are several different ideas. One of the most believed stories is that a truck lost control right after passing the rock, hit several cars, and all the vehicles involved fell down into the valley, causing several deaths. The silence is a sign of respect for those killed in the accident, and those with a lack of respect are punished. Another story that is widely believed follows the same sort of lines, although instead of a massive car accident, it is the death of a construction worker. Other stories are harder to believe, although are still very popular. The first of these is that the Native Americans of the area used to throw their enemies off of the rocks with stones in their mouths so that they couldn’t scream. Other stories say it was early settlers that did this same practice to the Native Americans. Another story states that the highway was built on an old Native American burial grounds, and is therefore haunted. The least mysterious story involves an annoyed bus driver who made up the story so that the children on the bus would be quiet for a few moments.

Even though the origins of the superstition are unclear, we know that we must respect this beautiful mountain, whether or not the superstition is true.