LEGEND OF TAHQUITZ
Perhaps the most prominent and alluring natural landmark of the Hill is Tahquitz Rock, also known by many as Lily Rock. Due to the dramatic nature of this beauty, legends have been born as to its purpose. The legend of Tahquitz originated with native Indian tribes and there are variations on the theme. Presented here is the most popular as told by the late Ernie Maxwell, an Idyllwild resident and philanthropist for over 40 years.
Chief Tauquitch once ruled over all the Indians of the San Jacinto Valley. He was a tall, handsome man, bold and cunning. At first Tauquitch ruled his people well, but gradually became arbitrary and though the Indians were dissatisfied, they feared their leader.
One day, the beautiful daughter of one of the chiefs disappeared. Soon after, another was missing and another. The women trembled and the men became enraged-and they all suspected Tauquitch of the evil doing. A search confirmed their fears that Tauquitch had done away with the maidens. For this, the tribe condemned him to death by fire.
Preparations were made and as the flames burned brighter about the condemned Tauquitch, the people gasped. Before their eyes, the form of the chief disappeared and a great spark of fire leaped into the air and wafted eastward toward the mountains. Then the people knew that he was a demon.
The strange rumbling that may be heard even today in the depths of the high mountains was Tauquitch who had taken up an abode in a large cave. In some versions of the legend, this cave was behind Tahquitz Rock and the huge monument of stone was rolled into place before the cave, either by Tauquitch or one of his pursuers.
After Tauquitch escaped to the mountains, the Indian maidens continued to disappear. One day the brave son of the chief Tauquitch killed Algoot along a mountain trail. The chief prepared to avenge the death, swearing combat with the demon that now possessed the power to change his disguise at will.
When all was ready, Algoot set out for the mountain to meet with Tauquitch, saying to his people, “I have not asked you to sorrow with me, to shed your tears with mine, to mingle your cries and groans with mine, at the fearful death of my noble son. I did not want to weep and sorrow and cry away the anger of my soul. I wanted my heart to keep burning hot with fury against his hated destroyer. As the sun reaches its height today, I leave my home and you my people, never to return until Tauquitch is slain. He shall die or Algoot will die. Those above cannot resist my plea for aid. Send up your prayers with mine that I may find this enemy of my people, and that I may have strength to slay him.”
Ascending the mountain, Algoot approached the valley and the cave of Tauquitch. Algoot called the demon forth to do battle. Tauquitch accepted the challenge but demanded that the battle be fought in the valley below, so that he might also do away with the Indians who came to witness the struggle.
Where the San Jacinto emptied into a large lake (the spot now known as Lakeview), the battle was waged. First was an exchange of huge boulders thrown by the fighters. The piled up granite boulders in the vicinity of San Jacinto and Moreno Valley are supposed to be the result of that fateful battle.
In the water, the two fought, until Tauquitch turned himself into a huge sea serpent, lashing out with his tail at Algoot. Once, he lashed out with such ferocity that the cut a gash thought to be where Lake Elsinore now lies-and the water rushed from the battleground, forming the lake to the west. Not having water to swim in, Tauquitch was helpless, and Algoot conquered.
The scaly serpent was placed upon a funeral pyre. Unfortunately, some green wood was used and the spirit of Tauquitch escaped in a wreath of smoke to his cave in the San Jacinto Mountains. To this day, he hunts the region and until “Those Above” destroy his spirit, the rumblings of Tauquitch may still be heard.
This site was last updated 03/15/07