Sierra Silver Mine Tour

Posted by on Wednesday, May 21st, 2014 at 1:38pm.

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If you want to not only tour an old Ghost town, but also learn about the interesting history of the place, then Wallace, Idaho is for you. Tour old Wallace, Idaho and learn about the history of the people who lived there as well as the heritage they left behind.

HISTORY

The Sierra Silver Mine was discovered in the early 1900's. When it was first discovered, miners were excited to find their fortune and become rich. They were disappointed, however, because the assays- compositional analyses- in the mine only ran about ½ ounce of silver per ton of ore mined, which is small compared to the average composition found in most silver mines.

After the mine was failing, ownership changed several times as different people tried to find their fortune. Finally in 1960, the new owner thoroughly went through the mine on one last hope that it was valuable. No one was in the mine until decades later, when high school students used the cave as a lab site in order to learn mining skills. And it was there that the mine found a new value.

In 1982, a group of local business people formed a non-profit organization called Sierra Silver Mine Tour Incorporation, and set up a tour of the mine for educational purposes. The hour long tour quickly expanded in popularity and today hundreds of people every year learn about the history of Wallace, Idaho as well as the history of the Sierra Silver Mine.

The mission of the Silver Mine Tour Incorporation is to educate current and future generations of the culture, history, and contemporary practices of hard-rock mining in the Coeur d’Alene Mining District.

TOUR

The tour guide is very helpful as he points out the buildings in Wallace and their role in the town. He takes you through old Wallace while explaining the many exhibits.

Additionally, on the tour you will be able learn through first-hand accounts of miners as well as listening to personal narratives of those who lived in early Wallace.

The informative and adventurous tour begins with boarding a sixteen passenger vintage trolley. On the trolley, you will learn about the 130 year history of Wallace as it existed in the days of the pioneers, as well as why its called the “Silver Capital of the World.” The history is considered so important that Wallace is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

After you tour Wallace and learn of the buildings and history, you get to take a tour of the mine. Once you arrive at the mine, you are equipped with a hard hat and given an overview of the fundamentals of hard-rock mining. Next, you begin your 1,000 foot tour through the ancient mine. The tour is not only educational but is also very entertaining as the tour guide is an experienced miner and shares his experiences as a hard-rock miner in the Coeur d’Alene district. He tells serious stories of lessons he learned as well as funny stories of things that happened in the mine.

The tour guide takes you through the mining process and shows you all of the authentic mine equipment that they used in the mine. You also get to learn about the miner’s work and daily experiences.

The tour guide demonstrates historic as well as modern day mining techniques with actual power mining equipment in action, which includes a giant drill over 12 feet long. Interestingly, tools and techniques have not changed much over the last 100 years. Miners still use pneumatic drills to bore holes into rock and then fill the mine with explosives.

Of course, perhaps the most burning question on every tour member’s tongues is, if Sierra Silver Mine never found success, why is Wallace known as the “Silver Capital of the World”? Despite being a financial bust as a silver mine, Wallace has gained acclaim by being one of the fourteen historic towns in Idaho’s 40 mile long Silver Valley. Silver Valley is one of the largest silver mining regions in the world, with some of the richest silver deposits ever discovered. The Silver Valley’s Coeur d’Alene Mining District has produced more than a billion ounces of silver over the past century. This Mining District is still one of the largest silver mining regions the the world.

Take the time to visit historic Wallace, Idaho and learn about the history of this Ghost Town. Also take the opportunity to learn about the Sierra Silver Mine and about mining techniques that were and are still being used.

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