The Lover’s Leap

Informant is from Modesto, California, up in the northern part of the state. This is an area that

“So there is a place off of the freeway right by my city called the Lover’s Leap, and it’s like a big cliff area that overlooks the area. According to legends, there was once a young man and a young woman who were part of different warring Native American tribes who fell in love with each other. However, their tribe elders would not let them be together, no matter how much they pleaded and begged, as the clans really hated each other. So, one day, the two lovers came together and decided to run off with each other, but they were discovered by their respective tribes, who went to go and tear them apart. As a result, they ran until they reached the edge of the cliff, and seeing that there would be no way for them to be together as long as their tribes fought, they both made the leap off of the cliff to their deaths, hence the name The Lover’s Leap. It’s a really sad story actually, and it reminds me a lot of Romeo and Juliet.”

Do a lot of people go there?

“Yeah, I mean, it’s a pretty cool place just to get a view of the surroundings, and a lot of younger people our age will go there to hang out and sometimes do illegal things though. I think its a neat part of the city’s history and its background.”


Collector’s Comments:

This story sounds almost exactly like Romeo and Juliet, although within a Native American context, which makes sense because California was inhabited by many different Native American tribes long before anyone else was here. This makes me wonder if the story itself had originated from the Native American peoples themselves, or if it was made up later by people who had known of Romeo and Juliet beforehand, and had adapted it to fit their own surroundings. Either way, it is a fascinating explanation for the name of a location.