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.