Chinese Peak, located in Pocatello, Idaho was completed during the summer of 1978. It is a 4 section skatepark that still exists on a piece of private land in a very rural part of the world, that is surrounded by the high mountain ranges. The surroundings are very desolate and the fact that a place like this exists in this part of the world is quite mind blowing. This place closed it gates in 1983 and that park has been left intact and unused for decades.
Apologies to any Boise locals, I got a crash course in its proper pronunciation after this episode was released! Also a slight correction, Chinese Peak summit had its name changed in 2001 not 2017
All images we talk about can be found here
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Alright everyone and welcome to episode 7 of skate spot pod! Just a point before we make our way into this episode, this will be our second last episode for our 1st series! We will be wrapping up for a few weeks after next week's episode is released so that we can focus on diving into some more research on other interesting spots that we can deliver to you all! So I hope you have been enjoying our first season and we hope you all will stick with us for our second season!
So today we are going to focus on one skate spot, this is a really interesting one and we wanted to dive into a bit more detail here as there are a number of things to get through today, which will also connect to some of the first skateparks that were built in the state of Idaho. This spot was actually pointed out to us by a member of our facebook page on the skateboarding crucible. We do get a number of requests from our followers that are cool, yet this one caught our eye and left an imprint to find out more about this skateparks history.
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So this skatepark is called Chinese Peak, or as it is more commonly referred to as “Chinks Peak” located in Pocatello Idaho. To keep the Podcast as non-offensive as possible we will just refer to this place as Chinese Peak. This particular park gets its name from the mountain summit that stands as the backdrop to the skatepark, which derives during the 1890s when a Chinese man died near the summit. During 2001, the name was officially changed from Chinks Peak to Chinese Peak. So this park still exists today, it is in quite a state with cracks and trees going in some of the old runs, yet it is still skateable. Now just the location of this skatepark makes this place so intriguing. It is in a very rural park of the world, that is surrounded by the high mountain ranges, The surroundings are very desilte, I really encourage you all to look at it from Google Maps, I have provided a link in the description below. There is nothing that sits infront, behind or even next to the park, it is just there in perfect formation in the middle of nowhere.
So let’s get into the history of this skatepark. Chinese Peak was completed during the summer of 1978. It looks like there was an early competition held in May of 1978, before the skatepark was fully completed, probably to create some hype around this place before its official launch.
It was built by the Maag brothers who had received funding from their father to kick start this project. One thing that I find interesting is a common statement from many people who opened up these private parks back in the 70’s is they always talk around the topic of safety as their “main '' selling point. As skateboarding was deemed to be extremely dangerous at this time, the focus on safety equipment, not riding on the streets and only sticking to designated skateparks was the key focus from many business owners. Statements around patrons at the parks sticking to the rules and minimising injuries are of more importance than how the parks fair in terms of rideability, which I find kind of funny. They even list the amount of injuries that have taken place and details on each injury.
Another common factor is that when a lot of these private skateparks were opened they mention that their main drive is to be offering kids a safe place to skate and as I’ve been doing a lot of research on a lot of old skateparks from the 70s, this is a recurring statement that is always used in newspaper articles, minus a mention of earning money and generating a profit. So this can be seen in a few newspaper articles that I found when they’re talking about the opening of the park and that they were gonna hold a contest there. They are very, very focused on the fact that they wanted to do something for the community, and they wanted to provide a safe place for the local kids to skate and get them off the streets. Then when you read an article that is several months older, they say that their main incentive is to generate profit and from the tone in the article, it seems like they are a little bit concerned about whether or not they're actually going to pull that off. To their credit, they actually do say that regardless of generating a profit they still felt like they were doing something valuable for the community. So these are just some fun facts around how you could make skate parks as appealing as possible back in the day. Now I also read that they would hold free education sessions at the park which I think is great but again they were really targeted on the safety of skateboarding and showing kids how to fall most appropriately or how to adjust your stance to limit injury.
Now some details about the skatepark, it had a total of 4 sections. The first was a deep, pretty narrow snakerun. It looks like it would have been quite difficult to ride, there are 5 of these mounds that would have been used as transitions or sections to either gain air or to do more lip tricks. They widen out to what looks like the start of the run, which has this vert section with a small platform. So my guess is that you could either just roll in from the start of the run and hit the vert section or just carve down the snakerun. The next section is more of a mellow ditch / bowl that would have been used to target more beginners / intermediate skateboarders. You can also roll into the snakerun from this more mellow bowl. Today there is an entire tree going in the centre, which makes it more difficult to skate. The Third is more of a flat area that potentially could have been used for more freestyle skateboarding. There are a few small bumps but the majority of this section is just flat. The final section is a pretty short steep little ditch that looks like it was used as a half pipe then on the top you have these two platforms that sit opposite each other that would have been used to drop in and then basically hit the opposite lip. What is evident from looking at some of these photos from this place which we have posted in the description below is that I don't think the build was fantastic, the general angles and transitions are quite weird and there are a lot of kinks in the concrete. At any rate, it would be really fun to ride this place and I like the fact that this spot is not built perfectly, it has that more of a DIY approach to skateboarding, and it becomes more of a challenge to skate. It also seems like there was a wooden ramp that was setup out the front of the skatepark, one of newspaper articles that we found, shows an images of it.
So during this time, Chinese Peak skatepark was one of 3 that existed in Idaho. The very first park to be built in Idaho was the Americana skatepark in Boise, which included a bowl, snakerun and freestyle section. The snakerun was restricted for more advanced riders while the bowl section for more intermediate and freestyle sections for beginners. The second was in Idaho Falls, now I can’t find any information about this place, so if anyone has any history about this place please feel free to contact us.
During September of 1978, the Americana skatepark in Boise, was forced to close its gates due to profit losses and increasing insurance costs. There was an attempt to acquire a new lease for the land, yet this failed and the park was destroyed. It also became a liability as even after closure kids were breaking down the fences to get into the park and skate it. The owners were pushing that the local council take ownership of the skatepark and would be able to do so without considerably increasing their insurance costs, yet this attempt failed when the park was bulldozed. It is lucky that the same did not happen for Chinese Peak, the park eventually suffered the same fate, minus the destruction and closed its doors during 1980.
So apart from an article and some nice pictures taken from the site skate and annoy, there is pretty well 0 documentation of this place. There are a few random videos of this place during the winter when it is covered with snow, yet its really hard to gather much media for it back in the 1970’s. Majority of the information that we found on this was through a few newspaper articles, which only feature some bad quality black and white shots. I have been told that the same family still owns the property, yet the entire park has been fenced off since it closed in 1980. During the years after it closed, the owners were a little more flexible to allow visitors to skate it, yet as the years passed they had 0 tolerance for trespassers, There is a rumour that Thrasher did approach the owners to do a photoshoot at the spot, but they were declined. So it is an interesting story this one, the park has just been left in its original state for decades now, untouched. Out of the decades it has existed only two of those years the park has been active, the remainder of the time it has just lay waiting grower older and older. It really is like a museum and a window into the history of skateboarding as really is a shame that is just growing older with no sign of being resurrected. Now the place does have a for sale sign out the front of it, if I had an endless bank account I would purchase this place with no hesitation and restore it to its former glory.
During the course of our first season of skate spot pod, we have been looking into a lot of skateparks and this situation that we see in Chinese Peak is not uncommon. There are so many parks in the world that reside on private property, that are really just rotting away. Now our whole stance on this is that there should be more attention and push to track down these places and get them protected. With all the money many pros from that generation have I find it sad that there has not been a foundation setup that deals with skate park preservation. It is only a matter of time before so many of these places just perish and so does their history and contribution to skateboarding.