Sierra Silver Mine Tour
Written by Jennifer Haler
This summer my mom wanted to do something with the kids. She searched through some ideas and came up with the Sierra Silver Mine Tour. So we planned the date, headed over to my mom’s house and all drove to Wallace together.
The tour begins in an easy to find, central location in Wallace. You meet up at a nice little gift shop that has all the usual items, stuffed animals, t-shirts, jewelry and huckleberry treats (huckleberry treats are normal in Idaho, not so much in other locales. But word to the wise. Never, ever ask someone where their huckleberry spot is. While not a killing offense, it is a secret only passed on at the deathbed in these parts. :) ). Then there were other not so usual items like some beautiful glass work, books on mining, and some household items.
We paid for out spot on the tour, finding the prices very affordable. Adults at $14 and kids at $8.50 (These are the current prices. They may change in the future.). There are senior and family discounts as well.
We asked to use the restroom before the trip because that is what you do when you are hauling around a bunch of kids who are going to be stuck for a period of time. There is one bathroom so we all lined up to take turns, but the wait was quite interesting. All around there were old signs, tools, maps, etc. It was fascinating to look at and kept you occupied while standing and doing the pee-pee dance. The best sign of all was hanging above the bathroom door and said “DANGER! Do not enter. Bad Air.” So that is good for a giggle.
We then hopped on board an open trolley and began driving through town. The drivers give you some great local information as you head to the mine. Once there we put on hard hats and met our tour guide. This was fascinating because our guide had actually worked in the mines through the years so there was some great firsthand knowledge.
Now, I got a bit distracted right off the bat. Not because of bats though. There were a ton of chipmunks running around. Since I am a total animal lover I found myself watching them eat, chatter and scamper just a few feet away from me. Once I realized I was taking a ton of pictures of the cute little buggers with my back to the speaking tour guide and had not heard a thing he said, I decided I should turn around.
It was good that I turned when I did because after a few more sentences from our guide we began up a set of steps to the entrance. Once we entered the mine the temperature dropped significantly. We went from a 90° day to needing a jacket. We were shown several pieces of equipment, told how they worked, what they were for and then given an actual demonstration of how they run. It was fascinating to see the machines turned on. One of the coolest (yes, I said cool. I’m pretty sure that dates me) things we saw were lights that represent how charges are set to detonate and open up areas. Our tour guide was informed, funny, and a very nice guy.
At the end I was super excited to see the chipmunks again, but alas, they had moved on. The trolley came back and picked us up and then we headed back into the town. Along the way seeing where the famous Lana Turner lived for a time as a child, heard about Ed Pulasky (that will be another blog post soon. Amazing man!), heard about Wyatt Earp and saw the Last Stoplight while learning some other interesting tidbits about Wallace. While we were there the Wallace ATV Jamboree was going on. So we saw many people enjoying their rides.
Once back to the store we hopped off the trolley and headed home. Now, there are many places to eat along the way and a variety of stores you could visit before leaving, but we just headed on home.
Overall, we had a great time and the kids got to do something unique and fun with grandma.
The website for the Sierra Silver Mine Tour is http://www.silverminetour.org This has all of their basic information. One thing I saw on their website was a ghost tour but we did not get a chance to do that. I think it sounds like fun so we will try to get back there again.
And now for all the pertinent info.
I love spending time with my family doing all the wonderful activities in the Inland Northwest.