Today we ate breakfast next to a waterfall, crossed the Clark Fork River more times than I could count, drove over two more mountain passes through yet more beautiful scenery, visited the oldest building in Idaho and walked past the Center of the Universe. Yes, the Center of the Universe. More about that later.
I mentioned yesterday that the C’mon Inn in Missoula has an indoor waterfall. This morning we ate breakfast listening to the water tumbling down over the rocks. The large indoor courtyard which houses the falls also contains four of the Inn’s five hot tubs and maybe thirty patio tables with chairs. The wild outdoors theme may be a bit corny but it was well done. It might be a great place to visit with kids during a cold snowed in winter vacation. Best of all, our room was quiet and the bed satisfyingly comfortable.
A few hours later, before setting out for Post Falls, Idaho, we stopped by Wheat Montana Missoula Bakery and Deli to pick up sandwiches for a lunch on the road. Our drive through the western portion of Montana was delightful with a brilliant blue sky above a varied landscape of autumn foliage. At the top Lookout Pass on the Montana/Idaho border, we pulled over next to some pine trees and ate lunch.
The most interesting part of our day was our visit to the quirky town of Wallace with a history of resisting over-reaching authorities. Wallace was the main town in the Coeur d’Alene silver mining district where more silver ore than anywhere else in the US was mined in a 100 year period. Labor relations in the area were not good in the 1890s. Open warfare involving shootings and explosions between the mine owners and miners required US Army intervention more than once to restore peace.
In the late 1960s plans were drawn up to turn the I-90 highway into a freeway. The plans for the Wallace area originally required the destruction of most of the downtown area. The clever people of Wallace responded by having their entire downtown district listed on the National Register of Historical Places. The Federal Highway Administration was forced to build an elevated roadway to avoid damaging any of the buildings in the protected area. During construction of the new roadway, I-90 traffic went through the surface streets of town and had to pass through the only remaining stoplight on any coast-to-coast Interstate in the country. In 1991, the new freeway was opened and the good people of Wallace retired their stoplight to their museum, dubbing it the “Last Stoplight.”
And finally, for our purposes, in 2004 after a strange battle with the EPA, the mayor of Wallace declared that the Center of the Universe had ‘probalistically” been discovered in the city. A special manhole was designed to commemorate the discovery and today a sign points visitors to the “Center of the Universe.” There was more to discover in Wallace, but our energy levels didn’t allow us to properly explore all of this town’s curiosities.
Tonight we sleep at a peaceful hidden B&B in western Idaho.