The History of Incline Village

Once upon a time, there was a lovely, azure blue lake, surrounded by lush forest. When Mark Twain first 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 moves 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 the methodical 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 top granite outcroppings. The 4,000 feet-long tramline was located in the area of what is now Mill Creek Subdivision. (Hikers will find the scars and remnants of the tramline and flume in the area between Mill creek 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 on 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 1887, Incline has 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 paradises of Glenbrook and Tallac to the South, and Tahoe Tavern and Brockway to the North. A one-lane road connected the North and South Shores, and in the 1930’s, summer homes were built in the area of Incline Beach (south from Hyatt Lake Tahoe Hotel, along Lakeshore Boulevard.)

By this time, the lumber interests had sold most of the Nevada North Shore from Crystal Bay to Zephyr Cove to a multi-millionaire real estate magnate, “Captain” George Whittell. Captain Whittell built his stone castle on a point south of Sand Harbor (his home can be seen from the road as you are driving to the South Shore). Captain Whittell was quite a character, and, at one time, had wild animals roaming his reserve.

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 made, development began, and in the 1960’s, roads were cut, a ski area was designed, beaches were developed, and Robert Trend Jones was contacted to conceive a golf course which would couple beauty and challenge.

Lot and condominium sales were brisk. Private homes were under construction along Lakeshore Boulevard (then the main highway), in Mill Creek, the central areas, and on the view sites in Chateau Acres and Country Club Subdivision. 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 market and post office. Children attended elementary school above the present site of Incline Drug. High school students were bussed to Reno – leaving at 6:00 in the morning and on winter days, not returning until 8:00 to 9:00 at night.

Crystal Bay Development, in an attempt to preserve something of those early logging days names 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 – Mountain Shadows, 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; 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 handle their needs.

And, that brings us to the Incline Village we have today … with signs of a healthy future in evidence around every corner. Incline residents and property owners come from all parts of the country and the world. They are hard working young families and relaxed retirees. They are corporation executives, airline pilots, teachers and builders. They are artists, writers and astronomers. They are recreationally active, and environmentally protective. And, they have one common denominator, their all-encompassing love for Incline Village and Lake Tahoe.

Why do we love life at Lake Tahoe, and more specifically, in Incline Village? Part of it is clear, crisp air; the clean, pure water we drink from the Lake without the need for purification, and the anticipation we feel for each new season. And, in Incline Village, it is the pride of ownership – ownership (we inherit as property owners) in our recreational facilities – three beaches, two golf courses, our ski area, tennis complex and parks – the sense of “community” we feel as a result of our well-defined boundaries, and the satisfaction we gain as participating members of a small, growing community.

We invite you to join us here. The only requirements for residency are a deep appreciation for our beauty, a willingness to try a new, more relaxed form of living, and a bit of the pioneer spirit!