More Historical Sites in Wallace, Idaho

Northern Pacific Depot is Wallace Focal Point

The Northern Pacific Depot has been a focal point for many local activities. President Theodore Roosevelt arrived at the depot on May 26, 1903, for an official visit to the city.

The President traveled a parade route to the city park in an open, horse-drawn carriage. The city had lined the streets with $5,000 worth of American Flags for the occasion, but the weather did not cooperate as it was a rainy day.

The 1910 fire forced the evacuation of most of Wallace’s women and children. Many caught the Northern Pacific Railroad fire-rescue trains at the Depot on August 20 to flee to Missoula. The easterly part of Wallace, including the Union Pacific Depot, burned on August 20, but the Northern Pacific Depot escaped the fire.

The Northern Pacific Depot was the hub of activities. Passenger and freight trains operated between Wallace and Missoula on a regular basis from 1891 to 1941.  The mining community of Burke had three round-trip passenger runs from the Depot daily, plus a special Saturday night run until 1926.

The Northern Pacific facilities were merged into the Burlington Northern on March 3, 1970. Burlington Northern freight service continued in the area until the rail facilities were transferred to the Union Pacific on September 2, 1980, and the Depot closed.

The Depot was in the limelight again in the summer of 1979, when a portion of the Michael Cimino movie “Heaven’s Gate” was filmed at Historic Wallace. This movie opens with scenes of a train pulling into the Depot and Kris Kristofferson getting off. The Depot was cleaned up and false fronts constructed around the buildings across the river for this short movie sequence.

The Northern Pacific Depot was relocated in 1986, to make way for the construction of the Interstate 90 section through Wallace. Moved approximately 200 ft. southerly across the South Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River, the building was rehabilitated and the new site landscaped as part of the freeway project. The Depot and site were then turned over to the City of Wallace for use as a railroad museum.

The Depot is on the National Register of Historic Places and will continue to be a valuable part of this area’s historic heritage as well as a focal point for the City of Wallace.

Northern Pacific Depot Railroad Museum

Railroad history is as rich in character and as colorful as anything a novelist ever dreamed of. Visitors to Wallace can catch this richness and color by touring the Northern Pacific Depot Railroad Museum. Housed in a former working depot built in 1901, the museum’s current displays discuss the development of railroads in the northern Idaho area.

Artifacts include an Idaho Northern velocipede, a 13-foot-long lighted glass map of the Northern Pacific route and photographs of railroading’s early days in Wallace. A non-profit institution, the museum is open daily during the spring and summer; and Tuesday through Saturday during the fall and winter.

Sixth Street Melodrama

This one-of-a-kind theater was founded in 1984 and since then, this year-round theater attracted huge audiences in the months of July and August on Tuesdays through Saturdays during 1-hour shows that are reflecting the mining background of Wallace and the Silver Valley area. You may additionally enjoy Kellys Alley Revue that follows the theater’s shows that is full of old-fashioned humor and music.

Various plays and musicals run also Thursday through Saturday for two to three weeks each November, February, and April.

Before housing Sixth Street Melodrama, the venerable Lux Budding established her own colorful reputation in Historic Wallace. A small structure built in 1891 at 212 Sixth Street was expanded in 1899 by Fred H. Kelly, who then opened a sign painting business and a paint and wallpaper shop on the first floor.

Mr. Kelly was later replaced by a grocer and several bar owners, but it was the ‘ladies’ boarding house’ upstairs from 1899 to 1977, which made the Lux more famous (infamous?) throughout the Northwest than the fact that it is the oldest remaining wood-frame building in Wallace’s historic business district.

Reasonable ticket prices include discounts for children, all students, seniors, groups and AAA members. The theatre is wheelchair accessible. Call 208-752-3081 for reservations. See also this post about Historic Hanson in Kentucky.

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