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. Weboughtahousein 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!
I am officially the (part) owner of 76 acres of beautiful Northern Idaho. Putting aside the little bit of panic instilled in me by watching my debt total jump a little bit, it is just too too wonderful. (And the debt thing? I know lots of people that have more student debt…and I have a house, a cabin, and LAND.)
I was grabbed by the obsessive research fairy yesterday night and spent hours feverishly researching “the Cooney group.” I’m beginning to believe that we have a very interesting and unique piece of land. As late as 1969, it’s ownership was labeled as “Cooney” in a sea of Day Mining, Inc. holdings. It is clearly recognizable as our property. (Our map obsession has lead to us being able to pick out groups of claims by their shape…this shape is ours.) As late as 2006, it is shown as a hole in Hecla’s subsurface rights empire (Hecla completed their purchase of the mineral rights approximately one month before our purchase so there will be no more picking out Fourth of July, Arlington, Nevada, and Mississippi on mining maps).
That somehow, among all the mining and the takeovers and the sale of claims somehow our four would remain the “Cooney group” is simply amazing to me. I became more than a little immersed in the history of the whole mining district last night. I feel there will be a kick ass coffee table book at the cabin someday.
After a lazy Saturday morning in Meg’s apartment, Meg, Forrest, Sprocket, and I headed for City Park. Due to Jazz Fest traffic we abandoned those plans and headed for “The Fly”–which is a walk along the Mississippi Levee. It was fun to just be outside with the Sprocket-meister. We went to the Parkway for lunch and had Po-boys. Forrest had a gravy smothered roast beef one while I had grilled alligator sausage.
After our po-boys, we dropped Sprocket off at Meg’s and went to the National World War II Museum. It was a nice museum, although even I found it a little heavy on the reading. From the museum we headed to Bacchanal for their free Saturday wine tasting. The shop was cute, although the owner wasn’t too excited about talking about wine. Meg also drove us through the lower 9th ward where much of the damage the levee breaches during Hurricane Katrina took place.
We made dinner at her house and then walked down to Cajun Creamery for ice cream. I’m up finishing a load of laundry and tomorrow we set out for Mississippi and Alabama!