The Wallace-Burke Historical Canyon Creek Milepost Tour

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.

0.6 Union and Standard-Mammoth mill site to the right. Ore was brought down the canyon in railroad cars and pushed to the top of the mills. Remains of ore bins and penstocks are still visible. For information about Silver City, one of Idaho’s Ghost Towns, click here.

1.6 The Woodland Park community on left, and HeclaStar mine tailing (waste) impoundments on right.

2.9 The Canyon Silvermine (old Formosa mine) to the right. When ore was struck in the mine, all the employees and their families went to Hawaii at company expense. Production 1931-1974: 101,000 oz. silver, 1,537 tons lead, 520 tons zinc. You can also take a walking tour through historic Wallace.

3.5 Rubble masonry walls from old railroads and wagon road. You are driving on old Northern Pacific grade and Union Pacific grade is across the creek. The railroads occupied the flat land and the wagon road took to the hillside. Monzonite stocks protrude from the hillside ahead on the left.

4.0 Gem Village. The Gem mine and mill site are across the creek. Labor violence erupted here between union miners and the mine owners in 1892. Shooting on July 11 started the “war.” The Governor enacted martial law on July 13. Shoshone County was to remain under martial law for four months.

4.4 Frisco Historical sign. The remains of the Frisco mine and mill are across the creek to the right. Union workers put dynamite down penstock and blew up the mill on July 11, 1892. Production 1897-1967: six million oz. silver, 106,000 tons lead, 87,483 tons zinc.

4.8 Blackbear Village. The Tamarack mine is across the creek. The Blackbear mine is on the hill to the right. Tamarack production: 8.7 million ounces silver, 169,154 tons lead, 72,208 tons zinc.

5.5 Yellowdog Village is across the creek. Snowslide in 1949. Cornwall Village ahead on the right. Campbell tunnel and dump of Standard-Mammoth across the creek ahead. For Wallace historical sites, click here.

6.0 Early workings of Standard-Mammoth mines are high on the hill to the left. Production 1887-1965: 25 million oz. silver, 28,437 tons lead. You are in lower Mace. A snow slide came down the hill at the left in 1910 and demolished a dozen houses killing 17 inhabitants. Wagon road high on the hillside to the left.

6.4 Burke Historical sign. For information about Historic Wallace, check out this post.

6.5 Lower Burke. The public swimming pool and the Methodist Church are across the creek and Union Pacific tracks to the right. Mine shift-boss homes on the hill to the right.

6.8 The Hecla-Star surface plant on the right. Star mine production: 1898-1969, 40 million oz. silver, 712,049 tons lead, 36,912 tons zinc. When it closed in 1982, the Star was the deepest lead-silver-zinc mine in North America.

Burke businesses lined both sides of the street from here ahead. The street, a covered flume for the creek, and railroads all occupied the same space. Ripley’s Believe It or Not described Burke’s main street as being so narrow the merchants had to pull in their awnings to let the trains go by.

7.1 The concrete wall against the hill to the right is all that remains of the famous Tiger Hotel.  Ripley tells of the railroad that ran through the center of the hotel. The creek also ran under the hotel.

7.2 Gorge Gulch. Hercules mine dump and cribbing are to the left. Early Hercules workings were up gulch to the left. Burke Firehall was built over the creek from Gorge Gulch. The brick building was Hercules office. The Hercules mine produced 30 million oz. silver, 38,367 tons lead, and 4,808 tons of zinc.

7.3 Burke School (12 grades) was across the creek to right.

7.5 Upper Burke. The Gertie mine dump cribbing across the creek. Rock foundation of actress Lana Turner’s childhood home is on the left across from the houses.

8.4 Old Montana Power substation. Electricity came to the area from Thompson Falls. Burke ballpark (Hearne Field) in the trees to the left. Travel is not recommended beyond this point. (Jeep road continues to Thompson Falls, Montana.) Return to Wallace and watch for the old mines, flumes, and ruins on hillsides. See also this page on Hanson, a historic town in Kentucky.

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