Day 10 — Plummer to Wallace on the Trail of the Coeur d’Alene
June 22, 2021. Today Lisa Wolcott shuttled me up to Plummer Idaho where we rode the Trail of the Coeur d’Alene toward Wallace. Lisa rode out with me for about 32 miles before heading back.
The Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes is one of the most spectacular trails in the western United States. The trail runs for 73 miles on smooth asphalt. The trail itself is part of an environmental cleanup partnership between the Union Pacific Railroad, the U.S. Government, the State of Idaho and the Coeur d’Alene Tribe. The thick layer of asphalt and gravel barriers along the trail edge serve as a clean barrier to the contaminated soil below.
The trail meanders from the rolling farmlands near Plummer, past scenic Lake Coeur d’Alene, and up through the Silver Valley to Mullan Idaho near the Montana Border.
I made it to Wallace by early afternoon, and spent the afternoon exploring this historic little town. Wallace holds an important place in environmental history as one of the first communities to stop a freeway from cutting through their town. Wallace had the last traffic light on a coast-to-coast Interstate highway, a fact that is displayed on signage in downtown Wallace proclaiming it to be “The Last Stoplight.” The Federal Highway Administration originally planned to build I-90 as an at-grade freeway that would have demolished most of downtown Wallace. In the 1970s, city leaders undertook an effort to get downtown listed on the National Register of Historic Places with the result that now every building in downtown Wallace is on the National Register of Historic Places. The feds had to redesign a bypass downtown because federal law protects historic places from negative effects of highway construction. The elevated viaduct is the solution to this problem.
I bought a couple of takeout tacos and a burrito at Chaco Tacos, and was just settling in for dinner at my campsite when some really nice folks invited me over for dinner. Saving the takeout for breakfast I headed over to the salmon feast below:
Jim and Jude from Pullman are on the left and Dave and Sue from Olympia/Yakima are on the right. Jim and Jude worked for WSU and Dave and Sue worked for the State of Washington. All are retired now and doing fun trips like this. We had a great discussion about farm technology, university and state politics, our kids, and more. What a great evening!
Tomorrow I’ll be hanging out in Wallace for a few days to catch up on work and visit with friends and family that are passing through.