Where’s Waldo? Remember him, the mystery man wearing a camouflage type red and white sweater, matching hat and blue pants? I took a trip to a small, quaint historic town in northern Idaho where many people might ask, where’s Wallace?
Wallace, Idaho, home to a mere 784 people and a long-standing history is a timeless experience just off I-90. After arriving at the Wallace Inn, I immediately felt something special about the town, but I couldn’t quite grasp what it was until I had some time to explore. It was like an episode of Cheers, where everyone knew my name! Well, not quite, no one knew my name, but locals acted like we had been neighbors for years. As captivating as the people in town is the history that surrounds it. The rich mining in Wallace led to the building of 13 bars and 13 churches – so you knew exactly where everyone was on Saturday night and Sunday morning.
Until 1988 when the last one closed, there were five bordellos in town to accompany the lifestyles of the lead, copper and silver miners. So if you see small huts (usually about five in a row) or extremely steep, covered staircases from the street to the second story as you’re walking through town, you know you’re in the midst of some Wallace bordello history. Unfortunately, the Oasis Bordello Museum is closed from October to April, but it’s an absolute must see during the warmer months.
Outdoor enthusiasts also have reason to be excited about this small town in the Idaho panhandle. Whether you’re into skiing and snowmobiling in the winter months or mountain biking and trail running in the summer, Wallace is the ticket for everything recreation. Two pristine mountains, Silver Mountain and Lookout Mountain are both within 10 miles of Wallace. They offer hundreds of miles of road and trail riding, including five nationally recognized trails (Trail of the Coeur d’ Alenes, Northern Pacific, Route of the Hiawatha, Milwaukee Scenic and Centennial Trail) with variable levels of incline so it’s easy to find a ride that’s right for you.
During my time in Wallace, I took the short 10 mile drive to Idaho-Montana border on what many would call a perfect day on Lookout Mountain. Sun shining and fresh powder in 30 degree weather, hello paradise! For the first time I experienced the adventurous side of snow-shoeing. After riding up the main lift at Lookout, I ventured down the backside of the mountain through the trees and untouched snow. The spectacular mountain scenery combined with three hours of snowshoeing epitomized what it felt like to find a hidden mountain secret. After seeing endless lifts with shorts lines and beautifully groomed runs I look forward to my next trip to truly take advantage of the slopes and experience what it feels like to be a “local” with the mountain all to myself!
Wallace, Idaho– a place you’ve probably never heard of, but a place you’ll never forget. When you’re in town, be sure to visit the Wallace Mining Museum & Visitor Center for fun facts, cool sights and endless information about the unique town of Historic Wallace.
Written by guest blogger Austin Rogerson.