By Fred R. Levering,
Gold was first discovered twenty miles north of Wallace on Prichard Creek by A. J. Prichard in 1882. This started the gold rush, so that by 1883 when the main line of the Northern Pacific Railway was completed through Thompson Falls and Rathdrum many gold seekers came over the hill into Murray until the population of that camp numbered 5,000 people, most of them living in tents or shacks.
Placer mining was profitable for about five years. In 1884 Frank Seymour, John Carton, John M. Burke, Frank Culbertson, and S. S. Glidden discovered lead and zinc by quartz lode mining in Burke. This ore was the start of the Tiger Mine. The following year other mines such as the Bunker Hill, Gold Hunter, Morning Mine, and Galena Mine were located.
At that time the town of Wallace was not known by that name, but as Placer Center and The Big Cedar Swamp. When Col. Wm. R. Wallace, a lumberman from Wisconsin, came and noted that this was the center with the confluence of Canyon Creek from Burke northeast, the Coeur d’Alene River on the east, Nine Mile Creek from the north and the open country to the west and decided that this was an ideal location for a town. He and his son, Oscar, platted out the eighty acres and fenced it in, but unfortunately for him the Indian Script used to purchase the ground from the government had been duplicated and resulted in a great legal battle. When this was discovered many of the pioneers here jumped the more desirable lots and took possession of them.
May 9th, 1888 Col. Wallace was selected as the chairman of the board of the Village of Wallace.
In June, 1892 the city of Wallace was incorporated with W. S. Haskins as the first mayor, followed by Oscar Wallace, Son of Col. Wallace, as second mayor. Other prominent mayors of Wallace were Herman J. Rossi who served several terms, Walter Hanson, Hugh Toole, Dr. Charles Mowery, James Taylor, Lawrence Worstell, and John Batts. The present mayor is Arnold Keller.
Wallace has had a weekly newspaper since 1887 and a daily paper since 1890.
At one time Wallace had a population of 4,000, but at present it is only 2,412 due to the new highway 90 being built through the town, which has necessitated the moving of many houses. These people are at present living outside the city limits. The trading area includes approximately 20,000 people. The altitude of Wallace is 2,728 feet.
Most of the churches are represented here and there is a very fine public grade and high school system, as well as a Catholic school.
We are very proud of our excellent street lighting, our fire and police departments. Most of the streets and alleys are paved.
Most of the employment is in mining, lumbering, and forestry. Wallace has a very good National television reception (Columbia and Mutual).
Wallace is noted for its many beautiful homes and flower gardens. There are two first-class hospitals and two doctors’clinics. There are more doctors and dentists per capita than many larger cities. A goodly number of lodges and service clubs.
The Wallace Chamber of Commerce recently celebrated its 60th year of activities. They sponsor the “Tourist Information Office and Museum” under the management of Mr. and Mrs. Fred R. Levering. The museum, now in its 7th year, contains much of the early history and has become a real tourist attraction. It is dedicated to the men who made Shoshone County great.
Wallace is known as “The Richest Little City in the World”. It has a number of millionaires and the district has produced more than two billion dollars worth of minerals. About fifteen mines are still working, employing approximately 3,200 men.
Wallace is also known as the home of the silver dollar and the Silver Capitol of the Nation. The largest silver mines in the states are located near here.
Wallace is served by the Northern Pacific and the Union Pacific Railroads. The through busses of the Greyhound serve the county on Highway 10. (90)
Wallace is the county seat of Shoshone County, which observed its 100th anniversary September 1962.