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Wallace Inn News

Historic Wallace, Idaho

January 01, 2011

Bus Tours Magazine, by Rick Shaffer

Few places are as emboldened with history, recreation and natural beauty as the path Interstate 90 cuts across the panhandle of North Idaho. The Silver Valley of North Idaho offers much at an enjoyable pace and values rarely found in today’s travels.

The hub of the region is the last town entirely listed on the National Register of Historic Places – Wallace, Idaho. Historic Wallace has a history that affected local, statewide, regional, national and international affairs since its incorporation by Colonel William R. Wallace in 1884. Historic Wallace is the Silver Capital of the World due to the documented silver production from the hard rock mines of the Coeur d’Alene Mining District of more than 1.2 billion ounces.

Go underground in the Sierra Silver Mine Tour. Guests are whisked from its down- town office to the mine portal aboard a San Francisco-styled streetcar. During the 55- minute tour, one experiences the mining equipment used then and still today with an actual miner-guide. After departing the mine, the trolley embarks on a narrated guided tour through the residential and business districts of Historic Wallace. This attraction features street side, coach parking and the cost is $10 per person. Phone (208) 752-5151 or visit www.silverminetour.org for more information.

Five miles down I-90 at Exit 54, the Crystal Gold Mine Tour reveals the life of three gold miners who found an ore body circa 1882, worked it and then disappeared into the annals of time. The tour departs right from the mine parking lot that has coach parking. Guests walk the mine workings, hear the tales of this arduous lifestyle and view unique carbonate crystal and stalactite formations, gold veins and silver wire. Everyone is invited to try their hand at gold panning. The cost is $10 per person. To learn more phone (208) 783-4653.

Peering deeper into Historic Wallace’s past is aided with visits to the Northern Pacific Depot Railroad and the Wallace District Min- ing Museums. The NPDRR Museum is a classic brick and stucco Chateau-styled building that was used by the railroad for more than 100 years. This grand building has informative exhibits and photographs that tell how the railroad built the West almost before roads were in existence. The self-guided tour has a curator available for questions and conversation. Bus parking is done street side near the museum and the bus tour price is $35 per coach. Phone (208) 752-0111 or e-mail for information.

The Wallace District Mining Museum houses a multitude of exhibits showing life as it was in the Wallace mining camp, a new 1910 Fire Exhibit, underground mine displays and a 20-minute video on the history of the Silver Valley. Locally-mined silver products including rounds, bars and coins may be purchased in the gift shop. The price of a tour is $35 per coach and bus parking is available street side by the museum. To learn more go to www.wallaceminingmuseum.org or phone (208) 556-1592.

The 6th Street Melodrama theater company has performed for more than 20 years. The shows offers local talent portraying entertaining stories of Historic Wallace’s past with heroes, heroines, villains and bad girls. Audience participation including popcorn throw- ing is mandatory. The performance is followed by Kelly’s Alley Revue which features song, dance and bad jokes. The cost is $10 per person and buses can park on the street near the theater. Phone (208) 752-8892 or visit www.sixthstreetmelodrama.com for more details.

Idaho’s oldest standing structure is the Old Mission at Cataldo. The mission is the creation of Catholic Jesuit priests known as “Black Robes” who were invited in by the Coeur d’Alene Tribe in the mid-1800s. This handmade structure was built using only naturally available construction materials. The history demonstration reveals the lives of the Coeur d’Alene Indians and the Catholic priests with a self-guided audio walking tour. The Sacred Encounter Visitor Center offers an 18-minute video. The mission is off of I- 90 on the west at Exit 39. The group cost is $30 per bus and there is on-site parking for buses. Phone (208) 682-3814 or visit parksandrecreation.id.gov.

Every travel destination requires quality accommodations and Wallace offers the newly-renovated Wallace Inn. This AAA, 3- Diamond property features beautifully-landscaped lawns, a two-story atrium lobby, brick exterior and tile roofing. Quiet, well- adorned, king and queen bedded rooms complete with coffee makers, refrigerators and free wi-fi welcome guests. The inn offers a free in-town, step-on guide service. Molly’s at the Inn has group menus to please all palates. Overnight groups are welcomed with a complimentary wine and cheese social. For rates and parking information phone (800) 643-2386. You can also learn more by visit www.thewallaceinn.com.

Historic Wallace has an invaluable, free tool for all tour operators – its own Prime Minister of Hospitality and Good Will. The Prime Minister can arrange half-day and full- day, guided loop tours, evening museum vis- its, multi-day adventure packages including garnet and sapphire digging, visits to national parks and wildlife preserves, hot springs, white water rafting, lake cruising, wine tasting and more. These are custom created, experiences formulated by the Prime Minister with satisfaction guaranteed. The Prime Minister is also able to offer a one-pay system where you pay one time for all expenses and he handles payment to the contractors making it simple, clean and easy for tour operators. To contact Prime Minister Rick Shaffer phone (208) 691-9169.

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