For years Wallace was known for having the only stoplight on Interstate 90 anywhere along its 3,100-mile coast-to-coast length. A bypass took care of that little issue in 1991. The town held a funeral for the stoplight, complete with a horse-drawn hearse and solemn bagpipes. It now rests in its casket at the Wallace Mining Museum.
We’ve already got two museums in this story, so let’s round it out with one more. The Northern Pacific Railroad Museum is in the beautiful brick building that once served as the town’s railroad depot.
Wallace is proud to claim movie star Lana Turner as one of its own. And the town itself starred in a movie, once. Dante’s Peak, a 1997 film featuring Peirce Brosnan and Linda Hamilton, asked you to really, really suspend your disbelief for an hour and 48 minutes. It was shot in and around Wallace.
Wallace wasn’t always Wallace. It started out as an area called Cedar Swamp because it was located in a swamp. With cedars all around it. Then, in 1884, it became Placer Center because of all the placer mining going on at the time. When it was finally incorporated, it was named after Colonel W. R. Wallace, the owner of much of the town property and a member of the first city council. Not so quirky, that.
But, there’s the whole “Center of the Universe” thing. In 2004, the mayor gave a proclamation that read in part:
“I, Ron Garitone, Mayor of Wallace, Idaho, and all of its subjects, and being of sound body and mind, do hereby solemnly declare and proclaim Wallace to be the Center of the Universe.
“Thanks to the newly discovered science of "Probalism" - specifically probabilistic modeling, pioneered by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Health and Welfare, and peer-reviewed by La Cosa Nostra and the Flat Earth Society - we were further able to pinpoint the exact center within the Center of the Universe; to wit: a sewer access cover slightly off-center from the intersection of Bank and Sixth Streets.
“Upon discovering this desecration of the Center of the Universe, we proceeded forthwith to remove said manhole cover and replace it with this fine Monument, directing all who come upon it to the Four Corners of the Universe, these being the Bunker Hill, the Sunshine, the Lucky Friday and the Galena Mines.”
The photo of the manhole cover certainly proves that Wallace, center of the universe or not, is certifiably quirky.