Monday, August 12, 2013

Wallace - Idaho 2013

It rained almost all night. The thunder was very loud. It took me a long time to fall asleep.
Fortunately the rain had stopped when I was ready to leave.
Since I did not have to drive very far I left later than usual.
Our new location is about 50 miles east of Coeur D’ Alene. We are camped now at Lookout Pass, a ski area in the mountains near Wallace, Idaho. It is another free place where we make a donation.

In the winter skiers come down the mountains and ski in both, Idaho and Montana. I can see the welcome signs on Interstate 90 for Montana and Idaho from the same spot.

We are here partly because of the famous “Route of the Hiawatha” Trail. The trail was a railroad grade for the Milwaukee Railroad and now is used by hikers and bicyclists. The trail goes through tunnels. A lot of people are here to ride their bicycles.

There is a bicycle renting place in the Ski Lodge. They are very busy.

Six of us are here now. The rest cannot get away from Coeur D’ Alene.
I love my new camera. It has a ten times optical zoom lens. I was worried about taking pictures on bright days because the camera has no viewer. But I can see the objects on the screen. On some cameras you have to guess where the objects are.

This morning I took a long walk on a forest road near the ski area. I was a bit early. The women started to walk later.

I saw some beautiful yellow flowers.

 And some blue flowers.

There were a lot of thimbleberries. They look like raspberries.

On larger bushes were red berries and elderberries. At least they looked like it.

There were some more flowers.

The Lookout Pass Trailhead is nearby.

At 10:30 AM we left for the mining town of Wallace. The whole town is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is the Silver Capital of the world. Mines in the Coeur D’ Alene mining district have produced a lot of silver and the mining is still going strong. We rode on the trolley through the town. Wallace has a population of about 800. Movie actress Lana Turner was born here.

The library is one of the few remaining Carnegie libraries.

The Northern Pacific Railroad Depot Museum was moved to its present location when I-90 was built.

Of course Wallace has to have a Captain John Mullan Monument. Most towns in this area have streets named after him and monuments. The road he built is mostly gone but he is celebrated for this achievement.

One of the trailheads of the Trail of the Coeur D’ Alenes is in Wallace.

After lunch we went to the Sixth Street Melodrama Theatre and saw a show. We were encouraged to participate vocally, and some people really got in the act.

The second part was funny, especially the Farmer and the Cow.

Some of us sat in the space capsule.

Before we went back to the motorhomes we had ice cream. This was a wonderful day. 

I woke up at 11:00 PM last night. The thunder woke me up. It is very loud in the mountains.
After eating a yogurt I went back to sleep. I left for Wallace at 10:30 AM. Eight of the group went on a 30 mile bicycle trip on the Trail of the Coeur D’ Alenes.
My first stop was at the Northern Pacific Railroad Depot Museum. It is a small, free museum but very interesting. 

They have a lot of displays, equipment used by the railroad, and pictures.

Then I went to the library. After the library visit I walked around town. Unfortunately I did not bring my swimming trunks because it was cool when I left Lookout Pass. Down in town it was a lot warmer and they have a big swimming pool. On the way back I saw those two displays on the side of Interstate. This is silver and lead country.

The other display shows the Willow Creek Slide. An avalanche destroyed a trestle in 1930. An engine fell 80 feet and was buried in 30 feet of snow.

When I came back to the camping area I noticed that most of the WINs have left Coeur D’Alene and are here now.
Here at Lookout pass we get no cell phone signal and no antenna TV. I am the only one who has cell phone access. My Wilson cell phone booster gives me three bars inside the motorhome. Two miles down the dirt road and in town the telephones work.

I found two more displays on the side of I-90. One shows the history of the gold fields.

And the other one tells about the 1910 fire. 

In the morning we toured the Sierra Silver Mine. We were nine WINs. 

We did not have enough people to get the discount so our leader adopted a couple. They were happy to get the discount too. The guide showed us the refuge area. In case of an emergency the miners have food and oxygen for a limited time. 

The guide was a miner in the Silver Valley for 35 years and he showed us the equipment and run some of it. Those pictures did not turn out good.
For tours they have electricity. Normally it is dark. The miners bring their own lights.

Blasting the hard rock is a science. It is not only drilling holes and putting dynamite in it. The holes have to be spaced correctly and the fuses timed at different times. They blast an eight foot by eight foot by eight foot area. 

After the tour the guide showed us the different ore found in the mine.

After the mine tour I went to the library and then joined the group again for the tour of the Bordello Museum. In Wallace they had bordellos until 1988. It was not legal but the madam helped the police department financially and bought uniforms for the high school band. In 1988 the madam and the ladies left the building in a hurry. The FBI was coming to town and rented an apartment. The madam was tipped off. 

She could have stayed because the FBI came to Wallace to investigate the sheriff and not to close the bordello. The tour was very interesting. The bordello was run like any business. There was a time clock to punch in and out for every customer. The rooms are just like when the women left. Clothing is still in the closets and around the rooms. Picture taking was not allowed.
After the bordello tour I went to the swimming pool to cool off.

This small town has a beautiful, large pool. It cost only one dollar to use the pool and the showers.
After the 5:00 PM circle meeting we had a “ Burn your Own” pot luck dinner. People brought their own meat and a side dish. BBQs were set up and we cooked hamburgers, steaks, chicken and so on. I had made a broccoli salad last night which was supposed to last me for a few days. When our host decided this morning to have a pot luck dinner I was ready. 

We also celebrated two birthdays. We had cake and ice cream. I am very careful not to gain any weight. This morning we walked three miles. It was walking fast. I have a hard time staying with the women. They move. I am older than they are. 

Today twenty-two of us went on the “ Route of the Hiawatha “ bicycle trail. 

Olympian Hiawatha, the pride of the Milwaukee Railroad, was introduced on June, 29, 1947. Hiawatha originated from a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. We biked on the old railroad bed. It is one of the ten best biking trails in the U.S. 

Some of us including me, took the trail through the St. Paul Pass Tunnel. The tunnel is 1.7 miles long and has no lights. Water comes from the ceiling, it feels like rain. Good head lights are a necessity. I was on my own and was lucky that there was nobody coming from the other side of the tunnel. The first few minutes I had trouble adjusting to the darkness. I had rented the bicycle and it came with a good light. Still, I got disoriented and got too close to the side and had to touch the wall of the tunnel for support. The wall was wet and dirty. This was not a good start. I should have walked into the tunnel and waited until my eyes were adjusted to the darkness. The trail guide who checked for the permit, lights and helmet warned me about this.

The rest of the group started after the tunnel. When I saw light again I was greeted by a noisy waterfall. 

About every half mile is a display telling about the history of the railroad. I can imagine sitting in a fancy dome railroad car and going through the mountains. I was peddling fifteen miles on a mountain bike.
The trail went downhill and had a lot of switchbacks. I could see where I would be next and where I came from. The trail has ten tunnels and seven high steel trestles.

The trestles were built with the Traveler, a giant rolling crane.

 The displays were very informative.

 When I was further down I could see two trestles I had just been on.

Way down I could see a river.

 Here is another tunnel and a mile marker. I am 1759 miles from Chicago.

Most of the trail goes through forest. On the picture it is difficult to see the flowers on the side of the trail.

For several years the Milwaukee Railroad had the longest electrified rail system.

Little Joe was an electric locomotive which had been ordered by Russia, but the locomotives were not delivered because of the cold war.

The Milwaukee Road was the last Transcontinental Railroad.

The towns along the railroad were mining places and not very civil.

Everything comes to an end. The Milwaukee Road had several bad times and finally stopped running trains in 1980.

 My trip came to an end too.

A shuttle bus brought me and my bicycle back to the long tunnel. I had to go through it one more time. I started slow and was wobbling for a while. I had wanted to do the whole Hiawatha Trail experience and did it. Next time I would start at the other end of the tunnel. On the shuttle bus the driver asked us questions. I answered one correctly and won an ice cream. When I came back to the rental place I asked for my ice cream. The lady wanted to see the coupon. The driver had not given me one. A lady in the store overheard our conversation and chimed in. She said: “ I can vouch for him, he knows Wyatt Earp”. Wyatt Earp was the correct answer to the driver’s question, but I did not know Wyatt Earp. He lived a hundred years ago. I got my ice cream though.
I was not tired but my right knee hurt. The bicycle had front and rear suspension and the gravel trail was not that bad, but it affected my knee.
At the 5:00 PM circle meeting we had a lot of stories to tell. Nobody saw a bear or a moose, only begging ground squirrels. Some of them were sitting in the middle of the trail waiting to be fed.

This was an easy day. In the morning I prepared a Chicken Noodle Salad. Then I went to the Mining Museum in Wallace. Early afternoon I visited the library and the rest of the day I did some reading.
We know now how to get around in Wallace and that means it is time to leave. Today is our last day. We were worried we would not have enough to do here. We were wrong.
Some of the group have left already.


Spencerusvi said...

Thanks for all the info Richard. We had a short stop in Wallace back in May but not much time except to have a sample platter of beer at the Wallace Brewing Company. We'll be back for a longer stay in September so looking forward to exploring more and your info is very helpful.



Diana said...

Glad you like the camera!