Brief History of Mt. Spokane State Park

  • 19th Century Long before Mt. Spokane State Park became a haven for winter and summer recreation, Native Americans considered the summit of Mt. Spokane an ideal site for spiritual pilgrimages.
  • 1909-1912 Frances Cook, owner of the summit, builds a toll road and a cabin within 3/4 mile of the summit.
  • 1927 Mt. Spokane State Park is officially dedicated at 1500 acres.
  • 1929 H. Cowles, Jr. donates 640 acres of land to the park.
  • 1930s The Spokane Ski Club, the Selkirk Ski Club, and the Spokane Mountaineers purchase over 500 acres on the mountain for construction of lodges,
    rope-tows, and ski jump hills. The road is completed to the summit.
  • 1933 Vista House is built by E.O Fieldstad, a local contractor. Caretaker’s cabin (which came to be known as Cook’s Cabin) is also built.
  • 1934 Civilian Conservation Corps sets up camp for 200 young unemployed men on Beauty Mtn. to improve the roads and construct other facilities.
  • 1939 The Spokane Chapter of the Conservation League buys 320 acres for the
    Park for $1500 (south half of Section 21) to save virgin timber from logging and fire. 
  • 1940 The Grand Lodge is completed near Cook’s Cabin but burned to the ground just before an addition was finished in 1952.
  • 1946 The first double chair lift in the world is put into operation on the south face of the summit for 3 seasons.
  • 1952 A master plan is proposed for the park which includes over 24,000 acres and designates all of Mt. Spokane proper for downhill ski purposes.
    This proposal is not implemented.
  • 1953 KXLY-TV becomes operational from the summit.
  • 1955 Lodge #1 and Chairlift #1 are constructed.
  • 1961 Concessionaire A.E.Mettler constructs Lodge #2 and Lift #2
  • 1965 Another master plan is developed by State Parks to include 11,592 acres of land, 958 of which were allocated for general outdoor recreation with the remainder to be administered as a “natural environment area.” This plan is not adopted by the Parks Commission.
  • 1974 Mt. Spokane Park’s official classification is changed from Recreation area to State Park, and the following philosophy is applied: “State Parks are to continuously service man’s spiritual, mental, and leisure time physical needs through the use of selected outstanding natural resources. this is to be accomplished by providing a full range of non-urban outdoor educational and recreational services and opportunities to a wide range of users with diversified interests and needs.”
  • 1978 A Coordinated Trail System plan is developed to, among other things, reduce conflicting recreational uses by specific allocation of park lands to user groups. The plan quickly became out of date and was never fully implemented.
  • 1985 The Parks Commission formally designates the Ragged Ridge Natural Area within Mt. Spokane State Park. 
  • 1993 The Park contains about 13,643 acres of land, not including Quartz Mountain. Most of this land was donated or obtained during the Great Depression through property forfeitures. The Mt. Spokane State Park Alpine Ski Area Working Group Interface Subcommittee issues a report concerning the future of the Park. Among other things, it recommends a comprehensive planning process.
  • 1994 State Parks proposes to classify areas of the Park as Natural Forest Areas. Several alternatives are proposed. The Mt. Spokane Planning Task Force Steering Committee is formed and issues its report. The group recommends a comprehensive planning process as well as the formation of a permanent, local Park advisory committee.
  • 1995 Mt. Spokane State Park Advisory Committee appointed by Parks Commission begins monthly meetings in Spokane. Friends of Mt. Spokane State Park also formed.
  • 1997 Mt. Spokane 2000, a non-profit group of local businesses and civic leaders, is approved as the new concessionaire for the alpine ski area to replace the Mt. Spokane Ski Corporation which operated the area for 20 years.
  • 1999 A Classification and Management Plan (CAMP) process was completed for the Park. New land classifications approved including about 10% as Recreation Area, about 58% as Resource Recreation Area, less than 1% as Heritage Area, about 22% as Natural Forest Area, and about 4% as Natural Area Preserve. About 5% was left unclassified pending completion of an alpine ski area expansion plan and further Commission consideration.
  • 2010 Master Facilities Plan completed.
  • 2013 Nordic ski area expands to over 60 km of groomed trails.
  • 2014 Alpine ski area expansion approved for 1 new chairlift and 7 new runs.