Next time you visit Falls Park, in Post Falls Idaho, to settle in for an afternoon of lounging in the sweet summer sun, take a few minutes to explore your surroundings. Most certainly the park is a natural beauty, but many may not be aware that it’s also a site of historical relevance.
Almost 100 years before the 22-acre park was built in the 1890s, a developer, inventor and millwright by the name Frederick Post constructed a 20-foot-high timber-crib dam to divert the Spokane River’s flow so it could provide power to a saw mill he’d recently built at the same location. After Post’s mill was destroyed by fire in 1902, Washington Water Power purchased Post’s site to develop a hydroelectric facility that required dams to be constructed across each of the river’s three channels. The powerhouse, located on the center channel, would provide power to mines nearly 100 miles away, via the longest high-voltage transmission line in the world.
It took just two years for WWP (known now as Avista) to complete the Post Falls Dam project, quite the feat when considering that the construction technology of the day was limited to horses, manpower and ingenuity. The dam is now operated by Avista Utilities, with six turbine-generating units operating in the powerhouse, allowing the Post Falls facility to continue serving as a vital source of electricity for mines, mills, businesses, factories, railways and cities in northern Idaho and eastern Washington.
Visitors to Falls Park today can enjoy three covered shelters, accessible paved pathways, historical interpretive signs, picnic shelters, restrooms, a playground, and scenic views of the dam and gorge. The centerpiece of the park is a fishing pond, where, if one listens carefully, the roar of the nearby falls can be heard.