Wallace is a city located in the Silver Valley Mining District of the Idaho panhandle. Wallace is Shoshone County Seat located off of Interstate 90. Prior to the construction of Interstate 90 in Wallace the community was along what was US Route 10. Headed eastbound US Route 10 originally passed through Wallace via, Silver Valley Road, River Street, 4th Street and Bank Street. Below the original alignment of US Route 10 in Wallace can be seen depicted on the 1957 United States Geological Survey Map.
Part 1; the history of US Route 10 in Wallace
What is now Wallace came into prominence as a corridor of overland travel when the Mullan Road was constructed through the Rocky Mountains. The Mullan Road had been constructed as the first Wagon Road across the Rocky Mountains by United States Army from the Spring of 1859 through the summer of 1860. The Mullan Road was aligned between Fort Benton in Dakota Territory west to Fort Walla Walla in Washington Territory near the Columbia River. Within the Rocky Mountains in what is now Idaho the Mullan Road passed through what is now known as Silver Valley. The Mullan Road can be seen crossing through Silver Valley of Idaho Territory on the 1872 Bancroft's Map of Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana.
During Spring of 1882 prospector Andrew J. Prichard located placer gold in a stream approximately twelve miles north of what is now Wallace. Additional prospectors soon arrived in the area and found the South Fork Coeur d'Alene River watershed to be awash in silver lodes. During the Spring of 1884 Colonel William R. Wallace built a cabin on the South Fork Couer d'Alene River which was called Placer Center. Placer Center soon grew into a thriving community which boomed of the influx of settlers in Silver Valley. During June 1886 Wallace along with his business partner Richard Lockey purchased 80 acres of land to plot a town site at Placer Center. Placer Center grew quickly which was assisted by a narrow-gauge rail line reaching the community by September 1887. Placer Center would incorporate as the town of Wallace during May 1888 and would later become the Shoshone County Seat in 1893.
Below Wallace can be seen looking westward in 1909
. By 1910 the population of Wallace had approached 3,000 residents.
On November 11th, 1926, the US Route System was created by the American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHO). US Route 10 (US 10) was announced as following the existing highway corridor through Silver Valley from the Montana State Line west to Coeur d'Alene to the Washington State Line. The initial definition of US 10 took through Wallace eastbound via, River Street, 4th Street and Bank Street.
As noted in the intro the original alignment of US 10 in Wallace can be seen on the 1957 United States Geological Survey Map.
On June 29th, 1956, the Federal Highway Aid Act of 1956 was signed into law on the Federal Level. The Federal Highway Aid Act of 1956 was the genesis point of the Interstate Highway System which would in the coming decade sew the demise via of US 10 by way of replacement with Interstate 90 in Idaho.
The construction of Intestate 90 in Wallace faced numerous challenges given the geographical constraints of the community. As segments of Interstate 90 opened in Idaho US 10 would be initially realigned onto them. Interstate 90 can be seen completed to Kellogg west of Wallace on the September 1966 sketch map below.
The August 1967 sketch map of Interstate 90 below shows the freeway completed east of Wallace to the Montana State Line. The completion of Interstate 90 east of Wallace left the community as the gap in the freeway corridor.
US 10 within Washington was approved to decommissioned by the AASHO Executive Committee on 6/8/1975. The measure to remove US 10 within Washington was made concurrent to remove it also in Idaho despite Interstate 90 within Wallace not yet having been built. An AASHO response letter dated 6/18/1975 to the Idaho State Highway Engineer noted the committee had only approved US 10 to only be truncated out of Washington to US 95A in Couer d'Alene.
During 1977 the State of Idaho again petitioned to remove US 10 within the State despite Interstate 90 not being completed through Wallace. The AASHO agreed to remove US 10 within Idaho and truncate to US 93 in Montana at Wolf Lodge Bay during their committee meeting on 7/7/1977. Effectively this made the former through route of US 10 in Wallace a surface segment of Interstate 90.
At some point the surface alignment of Interstate 90 was moved to a pair of one-way couplets in Wallace. Eastbound Interstate 90 retained the initial alignment of US 10 whereas westbound followed Bank Street, 5th Street and Front Street.
Construction of Interstate 90 within Wallace was originally planned to follow an at-grade alignment. This initial plan would have seen much of the community of Wallace demolished to make way for Interstate 90. There was substantial community resistance in Wallace to Interstate 90 being built at-grade which eventually led to a new alignment being planned via a viaduct structure over the South Fork Couer d'Alene River. Interstate 90 was completed through Wallace during September 1991 which can be seen covered in the September 8th, 1991, The Bulletin
out Bend, Oregon. A ceremony to place the last traffic light on Interstate 90 into a coffin is cited as being planned for the ceremonies dedicating the freeway in Wallace.
Since the opening Interstate 90 the original alignment of US 10 in Wallace on River Street is now bisected by Wallace Jr./Sr. High School. Wallace Jr./Sr. High School was built over River Street between 3rd Street and 4th Street.
Part 2; exploring former US Route 10 in Wallace
Given the alignment of US 10 in Wallace is now bisected by Wallace Jr./Sr. High School during 2015 I opted to explore only Bank Street while passing through the community. Below what was US 10 facing eastbound on Bank Street in downtown Wallace can be observed.
The Shoshone County Courthouse can be found on former US 10 in downtown Wallace on Bank Street at the intersection with 7th Street. The current Shoshone County Courthouse was constructed in 1905.
Below former US 10 on Bank Street can be seen facing east towards Interstate 90 and the viaduct constructed in 1991.
If the Interstate 90 viaduct in Wallace looks familiar it might be due to it being featured as part of the backdrop of the fictional namesake town in the 1997 disaster movie Dantes Peak.