HISTORY OF INCLINE
History of Incline Village
Once upon a time, There was a lovely, azure blue Lake, surrounded by lush forest. When Mark Twain viewed Lake Tahoe, he remarked that “surely this is the finest view the world affords.”
Lake Tahoe’s first residents were the Indians who lived and fished along its shores. As time passed, and civilization moved West, settlers paused in the passes to the North and South to marvel at the color and clarity of this magnificent body of water. Incline Village slept through the Lake’s early development, as the centers of activity in the early days sprang up at South Lake Tahoe, Glenbrook and Tahoe City.
In the mid-1800’s, lumber interests discovered the Nevada North Shore as an excellent source of timber for the Washoe mines, and at that point, began logging of the area we know as Incline Village.
It was called “Incline” in those days. The name was derived from the double track narrow gauge tramline which carried logs nearly 1,400 feet vertically to the V-flume which ran along the mountain’s granite outcroppings.
The 4,000 feet-long tramline was located in the area of what is now Millcreek Subdivision. (Hikers will find the scars and remnants of the tramline and flume in the area between Millcreek and Sand Harbor Beach).
The V-flume carried Incline’s timber on the first leg of its route to the water tunnel through the mountains and to the mines of Virginia City and the Washoe Valley.
In 1884, the remote settlement of Incline was declared both an election precinct and a fourth class post office, thus marking the first time that Incline was “on the map”.
By 1897, Incline had been left a sea of stumps, with a maze of crumbling flumes and rotting log chutes, the ugly duckling of the Lake area. Incline was left to sleep and rejuvenate itself.
In the early 1900’s visitors to Lake Tahoe spent glorious summer holidays in the vacation paradise of Glenbroook and Tallac to the South and Tahoe Tavern and Brockway to the North. A single-lane road connected the North and South Shores, and in the 1930’s , summer homes were built in the area of Incline Beach, east from the Hyatt Lake Tahoe Hotel, along Lakeshore Boulevard.
By this time, the lumber interest had sold most of the Nevada North Shore from Crystal Bay to Zephyr Cove to multimillionaire real estate magnate, “Captain” George Whittel. Captain Whittell built his stone castle on a rocky point south of Sand Harbor. Captain Whittell was quite a character, hosting wild, legendary parties, and housing exotic animals at his estate. His estate, the Thunderbird Lodge, is available for tours during the summer.
Incline was little more than a “wide spot” in the road during the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s, with only summer homes and a trailer park to distinguish it. Year-round residents were few, and those who remain tell stories of wild winters, food shortages and isolation.
In the late 1950’s, Crystal Bay Development company approached Captain Whittell, then in his declining years, with an offer to purchase the 9,000 acres which is Incline Village today. Crystal Bay Development Company had a grand plan for a community totally unique and master-planned to perfection. The sale was made, and Robert Trent Jones was contacted to conceive a golf course which would combine the area’s natural beauty and the game’s challenge.
Lot and condominium sales were brisk. Private homes were under construction along Lakeshore Boulevard (the main highway at the time), in Millcreek, the central areas, and on the view sites in Chateau Acres (Eastern Slope), and Country Club subdivisions. The lower Ponderosa area was developed and lakefront condominiums were built. (Don’t you wish you had been here then, when lakefront condominiums were selling for under $40,000!) A small shopping center began, with a market and post office. Children attending high school were bussed to Reno, leaving at 6:00 AM and on winter days, not returning until 8:00 to 9:00 PM.
Crystal Bay Development in an attempt to preserve something of those early logging days named this new community “Incline Village”. By 1964, a new elementary school was under construction, and several years later, the community cut the ribbon at Incline High School. Incline Village was on its way. In June of 1968, Crystal Bay Development Company sold its remaining interests to Boise Cascade Corporation. New development began.
A second golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. was constructed and Incline Village Units 1, 1A, 1B, 2, 3, 4, and 5 were master planned. Land sold quickly. Large condominium projects were built, including Mountain Shadows and Forest Pines. Where supply could not meet the demands of the 1960’s, now, in the early 1970’s supply exceeded the demand and Incline Village was ready for another “nap”.
Recovery came in 1976, as renewed interest in Incline Village as a year-round community sprang up. Residents became interested in their political future; the subject of incorporation was discussed and the possibility of forming a new Lake County was explored. The swing had started toward a community with a larger percentage of permanent residents, and facilities were built to hand their needs.