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Wallace is a historic city in the Panhandle region of the U.S. state of Idahomarker and the county seat of Shoshone Countymarker in the Silver Valley mining district. Wallace sits alongside the South Fork of the Coeur d'Alene Rivermarker (and Interstate 90) and the town's population was 960 at the 2000 census.

Wallace is the principal town of the Coeur d'Alene silver-mining district, which produced more silver than any other mining district in the United States. Burke-Canyon Road runs through historic mining communities — many of them now deserted — north and eastward toward the Montanamarker border. East of Wallace, the Route of the Hiawatha (rails-to-trails) and the Lookout Passmarker ski area are popular with locals and tourists.

The elevation is 2728 feet (831 m) above sea level.


In 1890, Shoshone Countymarker was the most populated county in the new state of Idahomarker, and Wallace was its largest city and the third largest in the state, with 2000 residents.

The area periodically experienced open warfare between miners and mine owners. Hard rock miners in Shoshone County protested wage cuts with a strike in 1892. After several lost their lives in a shooting war provoked by discovery of a company spy, the U.S. army forced an end to the strike. Hostilities erupted once again in 1899 when, in response to the company firing seventeen men for joining the union, the miners dynamited the Bunker Hill & Sullivan mill. Again, lives were lost, and the army intervened.

One third of the town of Wallace was destroyed by the Great Fire of 1910, which burned about in Washingtonmarker, Idaho, and Montanamarker.

In 1979, several blocks of downtown Wallace were listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a historic district, the Wallace Historic District.


Wallace is located at (47.472923, -115.924935) .

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 0.9 square miles (2.3 km²), all of it land.


As of the census of 2000, there were 960 people, 427 households, and 237 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,104.4 people per square mile (426.0/km²). There were 587 housing units at an average density of 675.3/sq mi (260.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 94.90% White, 2.50% Native American, 0.10% Asian, 0.62% from other races, and 1.88% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.19% of the population.

There were 427 households out of which 25.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.0% were married couples living together, 8.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 44.3% were non-families. 39.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.14 and the average family size was 2.85.

In the city the population was spread out with 22.9% under the age of 18, 6.8% from 18 to 24, 28.4% from 25 to 44, 25.8% from 45 to 64, and 16.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 99.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 104.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $22,065, and the median income for a family was $33,472. Males had a median income of $25,288 versus $16,429 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,699. About 12.8% of families and 20.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.4% of those under age 18 and 10.5% of those age 65 or over.


Interstate 90 passes through Wallace. The nearest airport is Shoshone Countymarker Airport (S83), in the nearby city of Smeltervillemarker.

Center of the Universe

On September 25, 2004, Mayor Ron Garitone proclaimed Wallace to be the center of the Universe. Specifically, a sewer access cover was declared to be the precise location of the center of the Universe. A specially made manhole cover was made to mark the spot. It bears the words "Center of the Universe. Wallace, Idaho." This prompted Britishmarker comedian and writer Danny Wallace to visit Wallace. He wrote about his visit in the book Danny Wallace and the Centre of the Universe, published in 2006.

The event is celebrated on the third Saturday of September.

In popular culture

  • The 1997 film Dante's Peak was filmed in and around Wallace during the summer of 1996, with the large hill next to town digitally altered to look like a volcano. One scene shows Pierce Brosnan driving a pickup down Main Street to escape the volcanic eruption. You can also see a sign that says Wallace in one of the scenes with the community standing around for the celebration. Many scenes take place in the historic downtown area, visible from the nearby Interstate 90. The 1980 epic Heaven's Gate also filmed several scenes in Wallace.
  • The last traffic light on a coast-to-coast Interstate highway to be removed was on a stretch of I-90 in Wallace, on September 15, 1991 when the interstate was moved to a viaduct above the north side of the town. Prior to this the interstate turned into arterial streets on the western outskirts of town and followed the main road through town before becoming a highway again on Wallace's east side.
  • Every building in downtown Wallace is on the National Register of Historic Places. This effort, undertaken in the 1970s, was intended to protect large portions of the town from being leveled to make way for construction of I-90.
  • Actor/screenwriter Michael Norell was born in Wallace. Norell is famous for his role as Los Angeles County Fire Department Captain Henry "Hank" Stanley on the television series Emergency!.
  • The fire-fighting tool called a Pulaski is widely credited to a forest ranger from Wallace, Ed Pulaski.
  • Actress Lana Turner was born in Wallace, as was politician Bill Thomas and Oregon State football coach Mike Riley.


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