Economic & Lifestyle Overview
Historic Wallace might be one of the best-preserved towns with a population under 1,000. Strolling along the sidewalks puts you back in time. Old brick buildings line the downtown streets, vintage motel signs grab your attention with their bright colors and bulbs.The eclectic storefronts have crowded windows displaying the bit of history and personality they have captured within. If you can pull your eyes away from the gorgeous architecture, a look above the rooftops might compete for your attention.Wallace is nestled within peaks. The spring blooms dot the hillsides. In the fall hues of orange and red radiate, encapsulating the town. The white of winter sprinkles the streets and trees. Most of the winter,Wallace sits above the snowline at an elevation of 2,730 feet above sea level.In the summer there’s a lush green all around, and the brown trails spreading from town whisper “come explore.” The summer is also when Wallace reaches its peak liveliness. Campers, bikers, and explorers funnel in on the city streets when they are ready to return to this adorable little town after a day of activities. It seems like there is a festival, celebration, or a parade every weekend. Annual events include the Wallace Blues Festival, Depot Days Car Show, the Huckleberry Festival, and more. This small-town charm has a big personality, there’s always a unique way to enjoy quality time here.
Wallace sits in-between both of the Silver Valley’s ski areas, providing a short commute along I-90 to either. In the summer, both of those areas transform into some of the Northwest’s best bike areas. The Route of the Hiawatha, proudly part of rails to trails, starts at the top of Lookout Pass, and the Silver Mountain Bike Park is based in Kellogg. The Trail of the Coeur d’Alene’s path rides near Wallace, giving you easy access to even more trail activities. More than 1,000 miles of logging and Forest Service roads are accessible from Wallace, wheeling you straight into the world’s largest biking, ATV, and snowmobile trail system.
There’s no shortage of indoor activities either. You’ll find underground mine tours, train stations, historically registered building, art galleries, a theater, museums covering a range of topics, and plenty of shops and restaurants walking around Wallace. If the lifestyle you seek is filled with fun, atmospheric beauty, a strong community, and endless outdoor recreation, Wallace is the place for you.
Business Outlook & Competitive Advantages
Due to the strong economy of tourism and the rich history of Wallace, businesses focused on hospitality, tourism, and recreation tend to see the most success here, especially during the summer months when tourism peaks.
Wallace is also the seat of Shoshone county, giving many of the residents the opportunity to work in government. A few historic buildings are home to these offices.
History & Unique Facts
When the plans for I-90 were released, the residents of Wallace were not going to permit this freeway to destroy their town’s layout by cutting through the center of it. Certain people worked relentlessly to register every building in downtown Wallace on the U.S. National Historic Register (district #83000289). This hard work resulted in the interstate being built above Wallace instead of through it, preserving the rich history. The city survived time’s destruction all thanks to the adoration and passion of these residents working to save their home.
Until the late 1980’s, Wallace had a lawless side to it. The “work hard, play hard” mentality of the miners and locals lead to a common belief that it was better to live with ignored, yet illegal, gambling and decriminalized prostitution. Local law enforcement turned a blind eye as long as those acts remained in the northeastern part of the town. Lawless Wallace believed that open brothel-based sex work prevented rape and boosted the economy, and these madams enjoyed status and involvement as community leaders. These brothels remained in operation for over 100 years, until a raid by the Feds shut it down in 1988. Many of these buildings were left in a scurry, perfectly preserving the history, and are now museums.
The 1997 thriller film, Dante’s Peak, was filmed in Wallace. Throughout the movie you’ll see Wallace’s bustling downtown scene, local bridges and buildings, and the surrounding mountains. The volcano itself was added in by computer graphics. Many of the extras in the movie were people living in or visiting Wallace in 1996.
The Wallace mayor of 2004, Ron Garitone, made an official statement declaring Wallace to be the location for the “Center of the Universe... because it can’t be proven otherwise.” The notion stuck, and today a manhole cover in the middle of the intersection of 6th and Bank Street marks the exact Center. There is an annual celebration of this cosmic declaration put on by the citizens of Wallace.
Wallace proudly has 9 bars and 5 museums within this small town. This means there is one bar per 100 residents and one museum per 200 residents, quite the concentration that statistically shows the uniqueness of this little town. There is also very friendly Snowmobile Ordnance that allows locals and tourists alike to legally ride the streets of Wallace on their snow machines.