The primary source of Bridalveil Falls is Ostrander Lake, some 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) to the south.
When the wind blows briskly, the waterfall will appear to be falling sideways. During lesser water flow, the falls often don't reach the ground. Because of this, the Ahwahneechee Native Americans called this waterfall Pohono, which means Spirit of the Puffing Wind.
Padre Junipero Serra, who had founded the first nine Missions, had died 2 years earlier. It was Padre Fermin Francisco de Lasuen, his successor, who raised the cross and made the first converts.
The original buildings were unpretentious and made of adobe. Over time three adobe churches were constructed on the grounds, each larger than the one before until the fourth and present church was built in 1820. The third was destroyed by earthquake in 1812. The fountain in front was built in 1808.
The earthquake of June 29, 1925 damaged the Mission church and friary considerably. The earthquake occurred during a chapel service. People rushed out of the chapel while the beams in the front of the church fell. Fortunately no one was hurt. Restoration work was completed in 1927 and the towers reinforced in 1953.