Idaho Panhandle – May 2022 – Vastly Different Vibes

Our first entry into Idaho on this trip was in the northern panhandle. First stop was the small town of Wallace, and the nearby ‘ghost town’ of Burke

Burke is 7 miles up a canyon from Wallace. While it is known as a ghost town, there are still a few people residing in the area. It’s population was once 1400 (in 1910), now it is 15. It was the home to lead and silver mines. Now it is sort of a unique tourist destination to check out the abandoned buildings.

Back down the canyon is Wallace. When Interstate 90 was built from Boston to Seattle it’s route took it through these northern Idaho mountain to go past Wallace. Unfortunately the valley is very narrow here, and the good folks of Wallace didn’t want their town wiped out for the freeway, so for decades you could go from Boston non stop until you reached Wallace, where the road went through town – up to 10,000 cars a day.

The town decided this made it the ‘Center of the Universe’, with a sign proclaiming that fact to this day.

Finally they built the 4478′ long viaduct elevated above the town. And Wallace lost another of it’s claims to fame. But fear not, with the checkered history of Wallace they have other attractions in town, including a bordello museum (did not stop:)

About 40 miles further west is the small city of Coeur d’Alene. The entire town seems ‘squeaky clean’, with it’s lakefront resorts.

Clifton, Arizona – April 2022 – The Big Pit

The towns of Clifton and Morenci Arizona are home to one of the largest copper mines in the world, having been that way for well over 100 years. Clifton has had booms and busts, leading to an interesting mix of seemingly desolate, but next door to the massive, very active mine.

The train station however has been beautifully restored, offering a view of the houses along the hillside across the tracks.

As you leave town headed north for the Coronado Trail (U.S. 191 – formerly Arizona 666) you reach the mine, completely destroying the mountains.

Fortunately after a couple of miles you leave this behind and arrive to a wonderful 100 miles of nature.

Coudersport, PA – May 2018 – Ice Mine

In the small north central Pennsylvania mountain town of Coudersport is a cool (literally) little tourist attraction known as the Ice Mine.

Technically it is not a mine, it is a small cave that due to some unique geothermal reasons cold air gets trapped in the mountain during the winter. Once summer comes the cold air begins to expel the warm air, causing ice on the moisture that seeps into the mountain.

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It had been a tourist attraction up until the 1960s when it closed, but has recently been re-opened.

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We showed up because of a huge sign in town saying ‘Ice Mine is Open’, but as we arrived we found that it was supposed to open the next morning as we were met with a sign that said ‘closed’. Still I drove up.

We did however have the good fortune of meeting Gary, the owner, who was more than happy to show us around.

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Sure enough on this 85 degree day ice was pushing up out of the ‘mine’, and the air temperature near it was about 45 degrees.

2018 05 25 137 Coudersport PA Ice Mine

 

 

 

The ‘mine’ is at the bottom of a 17′ pit, and goes down another 17′ into the ground. As a result of the perpetually cold environment the moss and other growth in the pit is more similar to Northern Ontario than Northern Pennsylvania.

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While not the most impressive sight around, it is still a very ‘cool’ experience, and Gary is a great guy who is proud of his hometown, and would welcome a visit – they are indeed now open for the summer. If you find yourself driving across historic U.S. 6 across northern Pennsylvania – go see him. And if you want to know more detail on how ice can form in the summer check out the wiki page

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coudersport_Ice_Mine

2018 05 25 140 Coudersport PA Ice Mine.jpg