That was the year the Bureau of Reclamation completed the Island Park Dam on the North Fork of the Snake River, more commonly known today as the Henrys Fork.
Much of the land behind the dam was owned by Judge Daniel P. Trude. Trude noticed that what had been a hill on his property would become an island once the reservoir filled. Prior to that inundation, he had a causeway built to the hill.
Judge Trude’s family enjoyed the island as a picnic spot and a place for family outings. When he passed away, his widow and two daughters decided to give the land to the Boy Scouts of America. The Scouts snubbed their generosity on the grounds that administering the island would be too difficult. Disappointed, the family decided to sell the property.
Ivan P. Bills retired in 1945 after 30 years in the automobile business. He started a guide service in Island Park the next year. He was able to scrape together $15,000 to buy 285 acres on the island. The Forest Service managed an additional 100 acres.
Bills and his wife, Yetta, moved into a lodge on the property. They rented rooms and boats and continued with the guiding business. Before long it became apparent that selling lots on the island was a better business than catering to anglers. In 1948 they divided the property into 112 lots, all on the waterfront and began selling them for $1,000 each. The Bills platted another 96 lots on the interior of the island in 1964.
In 1971 I.P. Bills, who was 73, decided it was time to back away from his duties as administrator of the island. Property owners there formed the Bills Island Association, a 501 (c) 4, elected a board of directors, and began making decisions about issues that came up.
Bills passed away in 1984. The island named after him is still managed today by the association. It is a gated property.
Thanks to the association for much of the information used in this post.