From immigrant to Vietnam War veteran to cowboy to acclaimed metal worker, Hill City resident Christopher Kubs’ story would make a great book. With a college degree in English, he could author it, too.
The first time Christopher Kubs saw the West, it was from the window of the airplane carrying him to his service in Vietnam. After the daytime flight passed over the Mississippi River and the Midwestern plains, the 18-year-old Kubs saw something that he had never seen before: open spaces.
“I couldn’t see a house or a building or a town or anything,” Kubs recalls. “I said, ‘Man, I have got to come out here.’ Because even back then, the East Coast was getting heavily populated.”
A Polish immigrant, Kubs arrived in America when he was 20 months old with his parents and 3-year-old sister. Kubs’ father was in the Polish army and had spent six years in a Nazi prison camp; his mother was forced into slave labor for the Nazi war machine. As political refugees of World War II, the family arrived in New York in 1949, and with only a few dollars in their pocket, they began their new life in America. The parents worked hard and eventually saved enough money to purchase a small chicken outfit in Delaware.
“I’m proud of my Polish heritage and I’m proud to be an American,” says Kubs, who is fluent in Polish.
After high school, Kubs was sent to Vietnam. His childhood had been spent in the East, so when he caught a glimpse of the wide-open West from the tiny airplane window, he vowed he would live here someday.
Sixteen months into his service in Vietnam, Kubs was wounded in an ambush. He was awarded a Purple Heart and still keeps the AK-47 bullet that shattered his knee and embedded in his groin.
Upon his return to the states, Kubs applied to colleges all over the West. He attended Utah State, earning a degree in English with a history minor. During his college days, Kubs made several cross-country trips on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, taking a different route each time. He would “sample the people and places then move on.”
During his final year at USU, Kubs took a welding course. Little did he know that one class would change his life. Out of the 26 students in the class, the instructor considered Kubs his best welder and referred him to the Chicago Bridge and Iron Company, which had a large plant in Salt Lake City. Kubs went to work.
After welding for several years and going through a divorce, Kubs absconded to Nevada and began the next chapter of his life – he became a cowboy and later a cow boss. He cowboyed for several years and finally ended up working the cattle in Fairfield. He’s been here ever since.
When his days in the saddle were through, Kubs turned the page and resumed blacksmithing, welding and ornamental metal work. Examples of his much-sought-after creations can be seen at Sun Valley’s River Run Lodge, Sun Valley Lodge, Dollar Mountain Lodge, and many private residences.
“Whatever comes into your mind, you can make. It becomes a lot of fun,” he says. “There is a lot of satisfaction in knowing the customer is pleased and knowing that everything turned out the way I wanted. I do this obviously for a living, but the money is secondary to the satisfaction of doing the work.”
Kubs’ journey to becoming a highly-respected metal worker in southern Idaho has had many twists and turns – more than enough to write a series of novels. With a mind like a steel trap, Kubs remembers every detail, but he hasn’t had time to sit down and write.
“I’ve been too busy experiencing it all.”
For more information, contact Christopher Kubs, 208-764-3829.