Pulling Hill always seemed like an odd name to me. It turns out that pulling contests were often run between cars in the early days of same. Maybe some of those contests involved pulling something, but this one was all about a hill climb.
It seems that a car salesman from Boise (even then a metropolis that engendered great suspicion in rural parts of the state) walked into Rasumus Hansen’s 3A Garage in Blackfoot. A disagreement ensued over which car was better at climbing hills, the salesman’s car or Rass Hansen’s car. Sadly, the make and model of each is lost to history or we could take side bets.
They set a day for the contest and agreed that the winner would receive $100 from the loser. When the day came a large crowd was on hand to witness the event. Leading up to the main event a few other cars tried the hill with varying results. Rass Hansen went first in the main climb, getting only part-way up the hill. The man from Boise chugged all the way to the top in his car. However, upon inspection, it turned out the Boise man had modified his car for the occasion, something explicitly forbidden in the bet. Hansen’s car was declared the winner by default and the reputation of people from Boise dropped another notch.
From that day forward, the steep hill on Presto Bench became Pulling Hill. Many more matches of automobile fitness followed, as did motorcycle races, bucking horse contests, and submarine races. That last is actually a local term for necking more appropriately applied when the occupants of an automobile were parked near the Firth River Bottoms overlooking the Snake River, but the sport was much the same.
Pulling Hill became a county recreation site in 1970. The official name for the 25.5 acre site is Presto Park.
Thanks to Snake River Echoes, the quarterly publication of the Upper Snake River Valley Historical Society for much of the information in this post, found in the Spring 1985 edition in an article by Ruby Hansen Hanft.