Wallace, Idaho

The First 100 Years: 1884 - 1984

James Richard Fromm

It has had Justice: The jury fined for not giving their verdict before being paid; the jury having their bottle of liquor denied them to hasten a verdict; and a murder defendant allowed to brace up with a drink before facing the judge.

In its infancy it has had Colorful names and characters: Molly b'Damn, Terrible Edith, three Earp brothers (Wyatt was a registered voter), Bronco Liz and Calamity Jane.  It has had highwaymen who held up wagons, men on horseback, railway express cars, and some who even went into a tunnel to accomplish their nefarious deed.

It has had a Schoolmarm imported from Portland who was not satisfactory to the board and resigned after two days but was most acceptable to a big Irishman who married her within a week.

Names: Beaver changed to Delta, Hayes City to Eagle, Butte City to Littlefield, McAulay to Sunnyside, Milo and Wardner Junction to Kellogg, Kentuck to Wardner, Georgetown to Osburn, Swingdoor to Silverton, Monarch to Blackcloud, Placer Center to Wallace, Davenport to Gem, Nigger Prairie and McFarland to Mullan.

1884 - "Placer Center" founded. Later it became known as Wallace.  Tiger and Poorman claims located in Burke.  Yankee claim (Sunshine) located by Blake brothers in Big Creek.  Gold Hunter claim in Mullan was located.  Morning, Evening and Polaris claims located.

1885 - First woman, Lucy Wallace, established residence in Placer Center.  First merchant, Alexander McKinley, established a store.   Bunker Hill claim located.  Towns of Mullan and Wardner established.   First shipment of ore to go out of the Coeur d'Alenes came from Bunker Hill in December.  It went out by boat.

1886 - Carter House was built by Ed Carter, who established a sawmill in town.  John Cameron opened first saloon in town.

1887 - Dunn Brothers stared first newspaper - "Wallace Free Press".  First railroad (narrow gauge) reached Wallace, connecting it to the wetern areas.

1888 - First session of Wallace school ran for little more than three months and incurred expenses of $364.30.  Wallace was incorporated as town the first one in the county.  Molly B'Damn died at Murray.

1889 - Harry L. Day and Fred Harper located Hercules and Firefly claims in Gorge Gulch near Burke.  Tabor's Fruit Stand established in Wallace.  Wallace Townsite trouble.  Standard gauge railroad reaches Wallace.  Episcopal Church built - first in Wallace.

1890 - The Wallace business district destroyed by fire -- the rebuilding begins.  Wallace's first hospital -- Holland Memorial Hospital.  It later became the Wallace Hospital at the west end of Cedar Street.   First train to Wallace from Missoula.

1891 - Wallace had thirty liquor establishments.   Helca was incorporated and its mine was being developed.  Miners' Union Hospital was established in 800 block on Bank Street.  It later merged into the Providence Hospital (later in 1891).  Col. Wallace lost the townsite case and severed connectons with the town.

1892 - Gunfight at Gem and the blowing up of the Frisco Mill.  There six men dead.  This was followed by martial law.  First national Bank of Wallace founded.  See: Union Trouble:  The Coeur d'Alene's in 1892.

1893 - South side of Gem burned to the ground.   Western Federation of Miners was formed.  Silver Panic of 1893 caused great depression throughout the district and nation.

1894 - John Kneebone murdered by a mob of 50 men in Gem.  He had been a witness for the State in their labor war trials in 1892.

1895 - Wallace school graduates first class in the Coeur d'Alenes.  First Catholic Church built in Wallace.

1896 - Masonic Opera House erected, and it served as the place for entertainment for about two decades.

1897 - Hecla stock sold for $.01 and $.02 per share.  F. D. Whitney, foreman of the Frisco Mill, was murdered by a group of masked and armed men.  $16,000 reward offered.  No arrest.

1898 - Shoshone County seat moved from Murray to Wallace.  The courthouse was then located in the present site of the Smoke House.   Court was held in the Opera House.  Major fire in the business district.

1899 - Bunker Hill Mill blown up.  1200 men to the "Bull Pen".  Federal troops were camped all over the district.   Wm. E. Borah was one of the prosecuting attorneys at the trial of Paul Corcoran of the Burke Miners Union, which was held in Wallace.

1900 - Idaho First national Bank building was constructed.  Another disastrous fire.  Hecla paid its first cash dividend.   Wallace Methodist Church built.  Eleven local men were in prison for their part of the 1899 labor trouble.

1901 - Sunset Brewery opened on Hotel Street.   Hercules Mine disclosed a fine carbonate vein 20 feet wide.  Northern Pacific Depot built.

1902 - Wallace Public Library built.   Standard and Mammoth Mine active in Mace area.

1903 - Teddy Roosevelt visits Wallace.   Washington Water Power Co. began transmission of water-generated power into the district.

1904 - Morning Mine purchased by Federal Mining & Smelting Co. for $3,000,000.

1905 - Our Lady of Lourdes Academy established in September, under the direction of the Sisters of Providence.  Gov. Steuneberg assassinated by Harry Orchard, as an outgrowth of labor troubles.

1906 - Wallace underwent a building boom, including a new Courthouse, the Samuels Hotel and the Eagle Block.  Wallace Supply Company stared business in the present site of the Metals Bar.

1907 - First automobile in Wallace was purchased by Dr. McGee.  Clarence Darrow was in Wallace for the Steve Adams criminal trials.

1908 - Wallace Supply moved to its present location in the Eagle Block.

1909 - Wallace population estimated at 4,000.   Two passenger trains each day each way - Wallace to Spokane.  Two daily and three weekly newspapers.  Alice Mine is in production.

1910 - The 1910 Fire in August - 85 lives lost.   Snowslides in Burke Canyon; sixteen killed on February 28.  Three killed in slide near Mullan.  It was a year of tragedy.

1911 - Wallace Carnegie Library built.   Replanting of Placer Creek burned area was in the planning stage.

1912 - Lucky Friday sold at sheriff's sale.   Harry L. Day elected president and manager of Federal Mining Company.

1913 - In July the first trip by automobile from Mullan to Missoula was made on its own power over Camel's Hump without assistance.   It took 10-12 hours to reach Missoula.  First airplane flights in this district at summertime celebrations in Kellogg, Wallace and Mullan.

1914 - First World War started in Europe.   Black Brothers lease out their Sunshine property.

1915 - The Montana Power Co. began serving some of the properties in the district from its plant in Thompson Falls.  The Yellowstone Trail Highway was compleated from Missoula to Wallace to Spokane.  Wallace Opera House destroyed by fire.

1916 - Day Brothers established their offices at the corner of Fifth and Cedar (above Morrows).  War in Europe caused demand for metals.  Renewed interest in the Pine Creek mines.

1917 - Bunker Hill Smelter commenced operations.   Bunker Hill established 8-hour day in its operations.

1918 - End of World War I.  I.W.W. union men (Wobblies) arrested and prosecuted for advocating sabotage.

1919 - Mining went into the post-war doldrums.   Interstate -- Callahan suspended operations.  Two men rescued after being trapped for two weeks underground at the Gold Hunter Mine.

1920 - Morning Club is organized.  Conditions of membership and first rules were adopted.

1921 - The district was in the throes of another depression.  The Galena struck ore on its 400 level and prospects looked good for it to become a producer.

1922 - Most of the mines resumed operations.   The excess profits tax was repealed and freight rates had been reduced.  Metal prices were up.

1923 - Town of Burke burned down, along with Hecla surface plant.  Tamarack & Custer becomes a dividend payer.

1924 - Elks built their building at corner of Fifth and Cedar.  Hart Brothers were shipping slimes or fine ore from the settllings in the old tailing dam at Osburn.  Yukon Gold Co. was operating a large gold dredge at Murray.

1925 - Hercules Mine was closed after paying $19,000,000 in dividends.  Aerial tramway was being constructed from Sweeny Mill (near Smelterville) to the Sidney and Constitution mines in Pine Creek.

1926 - Present Catholic Church built in Wallace.   Restoration work started at Cataldo Mission.  Page Mine was reopened.

1927 - Sunshine Mine paid its first dividend.   Tamarack and Custer Mine was very active.

1928 - Bunker Hill Electrolytic Zinc Plant commenced operations.

1929 - Wall Street crashed.  This had a profound effect on the Coeur d'Alenes.

1930 - Mining activity severly curtailed.   Production at Star Mine was suspended.

1931 - Bunker Hill and Sunshine were the only two companies in the country which maintained capacity production throughout the year.   Hecla cut back to a 4-day week.

1932 - Slowest year in mining in the district for 40 years.  Wages were reduced twice, and the payroll was one of the lowest since 1893.  Base wage of $4.75 was maintained most of the year.  Hecla was on a 3-day week.  Silver price was about $.25 an ounce.

1933 - Year of the Great Flood.  Wallace lost its swimming pool on King Street.  Tabor Building destroyed by fire.  Jake Waite Mill destroyed by snow slide.

1934 - The merger of several companies brought 276 patented and 39 unpatented local claims into the ownership or control of ASARCO.   Sunset Brewery reopened after many "dry" years.  First since 1915.   Bunker Hill underground goes from 4-day week to 5 days.

1935 - Sunshine started sinking its Jewell Shaft.   C.C.C. boys were owrking in the local woods.

1936 - Lucky Friday sold for delinquent taxes.   Sunshine produced 850,000 ounces of silver during August.  Ten die in Morning Mine shaft accident.  They dropped 850 feet when the cable broke.

1937 - Jewell Shaft completed to a depth of over 2,800 feet.  Mining operations started to expand.  The Polaris Mine was the district's newest producer.

1938 - Miners paid $5.75 per shift.  Floods caused heavy damage to district.  Coeur d'Alene Mines ore from the 2,000 level was being treated at the Hercules Mill.

1939 - New swimming pool built in Wallace.   Mullan held its first annual '49er celebration.

1940 - Coeur d'Alene Mines opened a new shoot of high grade silver ore on its 2,400 level.  It began construction of a 300-ton mill.   Lucky Friday stared sinking shaft an additonal 200 feet from the 100 level.

1941 - The teenagers all hung out at Saxton's, when they were not attending the shows at the Grand and Liberty Theaters.  Pearl Harbor was attacked.

1942 - The Army furloughs soldiers from the coal fields to work in the mines of this district.

1943 - Sunshine discovers the Chester-Syndicate vein and fault zone.  Whiskey, gas, sugar, meat, coffee and shoes were rationed.   Sailors from Farragut were frequent visitors to Wallace.

1944 - Hecla Mine productions ceased permanently.   Mines increased production to meet the demands of the wartime economy.

1945 - End of World War II.  An underground fire at the Sunshine halted production for several months.  Servicemen return from all over the world to their "loved ones": girls, Babe & Ted's and the Stein Club.

1946 - President Truman signed legislation increasing the market price of silver from $.7111 to $.905 an ounce.  The government had 125,000,000 ounces in its stockpile.  Slippery Gulch hald at Howarth Hall on June 23.

1947 - Day Mines, Inc. was created by the consolidation of 12 separate companies.  New pay scale for miners -- $10.60 per shift, raised from $9.73.  726 job openings in this district for miners and muckers.   Liquor by the drink becomes legal in Wallace.  Football field built in Silverton.  Slippery Gulch was set up on Cedar Street between 5th. & 6th. Streets.  "Black Mike's Roaring 80's Saloon" set up in the present site of the Metals Bar.  Black Mike Voltolini offered gaming tables and can-can dancers.

1948 - Post war "baby boom" was in full swing.  The end of the 3-cent first class letter.

1949 - 119.8 inches snowfall in December at Montana Power substation above Burke.  Lucky Friday stock quoted at $.85.   Wallace Civic Auditorium built by public donation as a memorial to the World War II Veterans.

1950 - Work started on new road on North Fork from Enaville to Prichard.  One could dance to live music at Swan's Coeur d'Alene Bar, the Ron d Voo, Stein, Palm Bar, etc.

1951 - There was a shortage of skilled miners in this district.  Some of the mines were taking steps to provide housing for their emloyees.  Slippery Gulch held in the Civic Auditorium.

1952 - Korean War gave rise to good metal prices.   The District was very prosperous.

1953 - Slot machines outlawed in Idaho.  3600 machines (219 in this country) in Idaho idled.  139 towns licensed them.  The Morning Mine closed.

1954 - The Pure Thought Club met regularly at the Metals Club in the Samuels Hotel.  Television is received in Wallace, Silverton and Osburn.

1955 - Strike started in August was still continuing at the end of the year.  Affect: Page, Frisco, Galena, Day Mines and Sidney.

1956 - Silver Mountain shaft (east of Mullan) and other work commenced by Hecla.

1957 - Morning Mill buildings burned down.   Wallace Babe Ruth team beat Seattle and Klamath Falls to win right to travel to the Babe Ruth World Series in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

1958 - The Silver Jubilee of the Coeur d'Alene Mining District (74-year celebration).  Slippery Gulch lived again.  Hecla acquired control of Lucky Friday.

1959 - Public Utility Commission hearings in Wallace over C.U.C. request to raise water rates from $2.75 to $5.00 per month.   Local editorial responds: "Water or Blood?"

1960 - Coeur d'Alene Hardware Foundry closed up.   Local citizens concerned about the condition of the highway between Wallace and Mullan.

1961 - Seven month strike settled in January.   President Kennedy halted the sale of silver by the U.S. Treasury.  Immediate rise in price of silver resulted.  Work started again in the Morning Mine.

1962 - Silver price rose to $1.22 per ounce.   Lucky Friday - Atlas litigation began.

1963 - Miners were paid $22 per shift.  Coeur d'Alene Mines awarded $129,000 judgment from Hecla.  Wallace hosts the Idaho Mining Association Convention.

1964 - Last of 90% silver coins struck for general circulation by U.S. Mint.  Bunker Hill employed 2,590 people.  Coeur d'Alene Hardware closed its retail store in Wallace.

1965 - ASARCO undertakes the Coeur Project, pursuant to an agreement with Coeur d'Alene Mines.  Post office at Gem is terminated.   Wallace Hospital ceased operations (in more ways than one).

1966 - Everyone searching for silver coins, which were commanding a premium.  Hecla purchases old Morning Mine from ASARCO and commences work.

1967 - Galena installed new hoist and extended its shaft to the 4300 level.  Providence Hospital closed.  East Shoshone Hospital commenced operations.

1968 - Caladay Silver Mines formed by ASARCO, Callahan and Day companies.  Bunker Hill taken over by Gulf Resources.  Wild activity on Local stock exchange.

1969 - Silver price carried from $1.80 to $2.02 per ounce.  Local stock market cools off.

1970 - Sunshine compleated construction of its antimony plant.  Bunker Hill placed in operation a sintering plant and a sulfuric acid plant.

1971 - Market by falling metal prices and profits.   Market activity and exploration approach standstill.

1972 - Sunshine Mine Disaster.  There were 91 men killed in the underground fire.  Two miners were found alive and were rescued from underground seven days after the start of the fire.

1973 - Four-month strike at the Sunshine.   New projects for the District included: Alice Consolidated, Caladay and Atlas.   Silver price $2.05 to $3.26 per ounce.

1974 - Flooding on Placer Creek.  Shoshone County Nursing Home closed and Good Samaritan Center opened.

1975 - Silver Syndicate vs. Hecla, Sunshine and Silver Dollar trial lasts 3 1/2 weeks.  Bunker Hill battled E.P.A.  An estimated 40,000 tons of ground were broke in a record blast at the Bunker Hill.  It took four days to load the holes with 500 boxes of powder.

1976 - The Nation's BiCentennial is celebrated in Wallace with our last Slippery Gulch.  Construction started on Bunker Hill's 715-foot smelter stack.  Coeur Shaaft and Mill dedicated.

1977 - Strikes at Sunshine and Bunker Hill ended.

1978 - Consolidated Freightways established a relay station at Osburn.

1979 - Hecla was the "best performer" of the year on the New York Stock Exchange - %5.25 low to a high of $45.  Filming of "Heaven's Gate" in Wallace.  Flood control study on Placer Creek begins.

1980 - Silver price tops out at $48 an ounce and fell $12 on the next day.  By March 27 it was $11.10.  Mt. St. Helens falls on Wallace.  Mayor Morbeck "cleaned up".

1981 - Day Mines, Inc. was merged into Hecla.   Bunker Hill shuts down its operations.

1982 - Star Mine closed.  Investor's group buys Bunker Hill properties.

1983 - Silver Shaft at Lucky Friday Mine completed to a depth of 6200 feet.

1984 - The Centennial has arrived.