Tubbs Hill

Tubbs Hill overlooks the City of Coeur d'Alene. It is situated between the lake, the resort and the rest of downtown Coeur d'Alene. It is purely a lucky mistake that the hill became a public park instead of a residential area, and for that we can thank Tony Tubbs for his poor planning.

German born Tony Tubbs was a prominent figure of the late 1800's in Coeur d'Alene. Tubbs was a land salesman, a hotel owner and a justice of the peace during his time in the area. In 1884 Tubbs bought 138 acres of land next to Lake Coeur d'Alene. A popular sales method for land plots in mostly undeveloped areas is to assume the buyer has not and might not see it before purchase, and describe it to them as if it is flat land ready to be built on or to plot it out as if it is an ideal settlement spot. Tubbs did just that, he platted it out for multiple residential neighborhoods and peddled it to unfamiliar settlers. Some of the details he did not mention were that the hill was solid rock and would be unable to be built on with the tools available in the late 1800s; also the change in elevation from the base of the hill to the top is over 375 feet on an eight to thirty degree grade.

Tubbs was successful with a few sales. Washington Water Power Co purchased the south shore and east half of the hill in the early 1900s to create a water system for the city. The first major structure built on the hill was a large concrete reservoir for lake water in 1903. In 1949 a second reservoir was built out of steel to accommodate the growing population. Coeur d'Alene Lumber Co purchased the rest of the waterfront sections and operated a saw mill on the land directly below the hill (the area that is now McEuen Field). But the depression era hit the Idaho panhandle hard, and the lumber mill went bankrupt. In 1936 the city purchased the mill property for use as a public park and a building site for municipal water and electric power plants. The objective was to put two large diesel engines at the base of the hill to provide power for the local area. This plan put Washington Water Power Co into an uproar, as they were the current utility providers for the area. After denial of federal funding and a few lawsuits against the city, Washington Water Power Co got their way and no power plant was to be built.

In the 1920s a grandstand was built on the hill to view the sailboat races of the summertime. In the 1960s hydroplane races became popular. Hydroplane races caused too much excitement for the general public, and began to give the area a bad reputation. So they were eventually cancelled and banned from the area. If you look closely on the south east corner of the hill, the only remnants of the grandstand can be seen, five solitary concrete blocks.

During World War II, the park directly below was briefly housing for Farragut Naval Station, and a civic center was constructed. But one summer Saturday night in 1944 the civic center burned down, the city saved the money to rebuild a civic center but it has never been rebuilt. Farragut closed after the war and the housing was torn down, leaving only an empty dirt field. The city decided to purchase the field and set it aside for a public park, the first section of the Tubbs Hill area to be publicly preserved for a park. In later years the remainder of the hill would be purchased by the city for public use, but only after a long struggle with developers using the poorly laid out plats designed by Tony Tubbs.

Images

View of Coeur d'Alene from the top

View of Coeur d'Alene from the top

Aerial view of Coeur d'Alene looking North West from the top of Tubbs hill circa 1950s. Photo courtesy of Dorothy Dahlgren, Director of the Museum of North Idaho. CDA-9-13 View File Details Page

1973 Aerial View of Tubbs Hill

1973 Aerial View of Tubbs Hill

Aerial view of Coeur d'Alene, the large green hill filled with trees is Tubbs Hill overlooking the city. March 1973. Photo courtesy of Dorothy Dahlgren, Director of the Museum of North Idaho. CDA-9-80. View File Details Page

Boating Party off Tubbs Hill

Boating Party off Tubbs Hill

1892 boating party with Tubbs Hill in the background. From left to right: Ed Osier, Grace Haskins Osier, Jennie Haskins, Ruby Osier (age 3), James Haskins, Addie Connors, George Connors. Photo courtesy of Dorothy Dahlgren, Director of the Museum of North Idaho. REC-7-10. View File Details Page

Ice boating and skating on Lake Coeur d'Alene

Ice boating and skating on Lake Coeur d'Alene

Ice boating and skating on Lake Coeur d'Alene with Tubbs Hill in the background. Circa 1890. Photo courtesy of Dorothy Dahlgren, Director of the Museum of North Idaho. REC-12-5. View File Details Page

Tubbs Hill Grandstand

Tubbs Hill Grandstand

Empty grandstand on the south side of Tubbs Hill. Circa 1919-1920. Photo courtesy of Dorothy Dahlgren, Director of the Museum of North Idaho. REC-15-12. View File Details Page

View of a steam ship on Lake Coeur d'Alene

View of a steam ship on Lake Coeur d'Alene

Side view of a steam ship. Georgie Oakes off the end of Tubbs Hill, the view is looking toward Kidd Island from the East side of the hill looking Southwest. Circa 1910. Photo courtesy of Dorothy Dahlgren, Director of the Museum of North Idaho. TRW-10-15. View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Katie Higgins, “Tubbs Hill,” Spokane Historical, accessed July 28, 2017, http://spokanehistorical.org/items/show/505.
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