As I wrapped up graduate school in the spring of 2010, Forrest and I started brainstorming for real where we were going to live. We knew we wanted a small town but weren’t quite sure yet how we were going to make that happen. About that time, I read The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America by Timothy Egan. While I doubt that the fires of 1910 saved America although they certainly influenced the growth of the newly formed US Forest Service), it did introduce me to the existence of Wallace, Idaho. I put out some cover letters and resumes to EPA contacts working in the area but nothing much came of it and in July, after our adventures around the country, we found ourselves in Missoula, Montana. Fortunately, we didn’t stay in Missoula very long because I found a job in Wallace. We bought a house in Mullan (about ten miles from my work), population 692. (Census, 2010)
Mullan is located at the far eastern end of the “Silver Valley.” Headed west along I-90 from Mullan, one passes through the valley’s other towns: Wallace (pop. 784), Osburn (1,555), Kellogg (2,120), Smelterville (627), and Pinehurst (1,619). Along with the communities on the North Fork of the Coeur D’Alene River (Prichard, Murray) and on the St. Joe (Avery) Shoshone County is home to just 12,765 people, or 4.8 people per square mile. However, almost all of these people live within a mile of I-90, with 87% of the land area being classifed as “forest uplands” compared to less than 1% classified as “urban or developed.” (Shoshone County Forest Health Collaborative)
Periodically, I plan on blogging about various facets of Silver Valley life and history. I live in a unique little corner of the world and love to share it!