Greater Coeur d’Alene Mining Region
Not many people realize how important the Coeur d’Alene Mining Region is to our national economy and the numerous benefits derived from the silver, lead, and zinc mined here. The Coeur d’Alene Mining Region, which is roughly four miles wide and twenty miles long, ranked first in the annual production of silver being mined in the world for many years. The top four silver mines in the United States are right here in this little valley.
Some old tales suggest that placer gold may have been mined from the general area in the early 1800s, perhaps by traders and trappers. However, recorded production in the district did not start until 1884.
Visitors to Wallace and the Silver Valley, after inspecting the top silver producing mines in the nation, can also get a glimpse of the early-day gold rush to the Coeur d’Alene Mountains just over a century ago with an hour’s drive to the Murray gold district north of Wallace.
Visitors should take Forestry Road 456 which runs up Nine Mile Canyon past the Sierra Mine Tour site and over Dobson Pass. This road, while crooked, is paved and well maintained.
At the bottom of the pass on the north side, you will proceed down historic Beaver Creek, where every little gulch and side stream yielded placer gold, to the old townsite of Delta, which once had 1,500 residents.
Here is a road junction where the visitor can turn right on Road 605 to go over Kings Pass and on to Murray. This road takes the visitor past the Murray Cemetery, where colorful characters of the past are buried.
Idaho Ghost Town
In 1865, rich silver ore was discovered on War Eagle Mountain overlooking Silver City, Idaho. The War Eagle Mine and over 200 other mines in the area went on to produce more than $60,000,00 of precious metals.
A bit further up the road (a mile to be exact) from Silver City was “Ruby City”. Ruby City was the original county seat but lost this title to the 2-year-old Silver City in 1866. Many homes and businesses were physically moved to Silver City hoping to capitalize on Silver City’s newly acquired status of Owyhee County Seat.
Silver City Idaho has a turbulent history. There are stories of shootings between rival mining companies, and men and management. The cemetery is well populated with such men and their stories, which now lie forever, beneath ornate, wrought iron fences.
An interesting seven-mile driving tour can be taken from Wallace up Canyon Creek to the town of Burke. Mining claims were staked at Burke in 1884. The town of Burke was founded the following year. Burke is unique, having been listed twice in Ripley’s Believe It or Not and by being served by two railroads before the first road reached the town.
To take the tour, proceed to the stoplight at the County Court House. This was the last stoplight left on Interstate 90 between Seattle and Boston.
0.0 Stoplight at the County Court House. Proceed easterly.
0.4 1-90 Interchange and Railroad crossing. The orange buildings to left were the Coeur d’Alene Company machine shops. A Foundry formerly occupied land under the freeway.
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.
Wallace, Idaho, is unique because of its fine collection of turn-of-the-century buildings, some designed by nationally known architects. The entire town is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and whole blocks in the town’s business district are virtually still intact and have remained so for at least a century or more.
There has been relatively little modernization and little restoration. On this amazing tour, you may be looking for interesting architectural features like cast iron pilasters and cornices, decorative glass, and beautiful terra cotta trim. In some instances, you will be able to see examples of the old beautiful glass windows that have irregular surfaces. It should be mentioned that records occasionally conflict on construction dates, etc. We have listed the most popular dates in these instances.
Historic Wallace, Idaho is located in the Silver Valley. The town is also known as the “Silver Capital of the World”. From the earliest days of mining until 2000, Wallace produced more silver than any other mining area in the world.
Like gold flakes bottoming in a placer miner’s pan, history lingers on Wallace’s street corners, buildings, and alleyways. So here, you can learn more about our town’s brave, tumultuous, and bawdy past – from its frontier days to its gold and silver mining eras, to its emergent future as a historical and recreational treasure of the Inland Northwest. Let’s look at some of Wallace’s historically significant places:
Wallace District Mining Museum
The Wallace District Mining Museum was established in 1956 by Fred I. Evering, a true Harry Truman lookalike. In 1974, the museum was relocated to the former Rice’s Bakery building (509 Bank Street).