Maintaining Wallace’s identity
“Far below the towering mountains Wallace High greets you,” are the opening words of the school song of Wallace High School, a song that emanates from the early days of the 20th century.
Wallace, nestled at the base of beautiful towering mountains, the students of Wallace High School, and the town’s residents and business people, as well as visitors, gazed with admiration and awe at the beauty that enveloped them — and enriched their lives through all the beautiful changing seasons.
Successive generations of the young and old found a common bond in their admiration of the beautiful mountains — the architecture of God — which far surpass in majesty the man-made remnants of the town’s colorful past — and their integrity must not be further violated, or the significance of Wallace will cease to exist.
The great pyramid mountain watches over Wallace, as it has done since the town’s inception; and though its face has been desecrated and disfigured by clearcuts and logging roads, it is still more beautiful and sacred than the Great Pyramid of Gizeh, Egypt.
Captivated by its lovely park-like setting, Hollywood made two movies in Wallace — "Heaven’s Gate" and "Dante’s Peak." Since the filming of the latter in 1996, no more Hollywood films have been made in Wallace, undoubtedly because of the disgraceful and unconscionable desecration of the pristine forests and majestic mountains surrounding Wallace — their precious beauty sacrificed for a paltry and evanescent sum — reducing the once — uniquely beautiful mountain town to the common status of so many other Pacific Northwest towns and cities, whose beautiful neighboring forests and mountains have been devastated and mutilated by industrial logging (often under the pretext of protecting them from fire), including Osburn, and every other once-beautiful town in the Coeur d’Alene Mining District.
As a historical mining town in the heart of the Coeur d’Alene Mining District, once recognized as one of the most beautiful places in the country, Wallace city officials have the grave responsibility to maintain Wallace’s identity as it has always been — closely tied to its colorful past and mountain scenery.
Though D.H. Lawrence's admonition, “Thou shalt acknowledge the wonder,” has been blindly and sadly disregarded, and the beautiful sacred mountains have been disgracefully desecrated by those who have no conscience whatsoever regarding the beauty and history of Wallace, and the Coeur d’Alenes, nevertheless there is no higher priority in the conservation of historic Wallace, and the Coeur d’Alenes, than to respect and maintain the priceless beauty of the natural environment — once lost, it’s lost forever.
Although the mountains have recently been exploited, no buildings have ever been constructed on the revered backdrop of Wallace (with the exception of the section of town that lies on the mountain side above the viaduct, and Buena Vista Heights — both of which were established in the early days, before the 1910 fire, and are an important part of Wallace’s history and identity).
However, a new threat to the backdrop is now looming: A party from outside the district, with apparently no regard for the beauty and historical integrity of Wallace, and no consideration for those who do, is intending to build condominiums on the sacred pyramid mountain.
What a disgrace! Whatever is built would be a glaring, irreparable blemish on the face of the beautiful pyramid mountain, and will only lead to more flagrant intrusions on Wallace’s backdrop — while being totally incongruous with and detrimental to its unique mining town identity, and sense of place.
Furthermore, the more roads built on the mountains, the more public access to the forests will occur, resulting in the increasing threat of forest fires (humans being the main cause) and more harmful impacts on diminishing wildlife — while causing still more damage to the mountains.
Wallace officials should stand up for Wallace’s future, and prohibit any further destruction of the beauty of the town’s backdrop, by any means, and let nature begin to heal its conspicuous wounds.
A program to repair some of the aesthetic damage to the city should be considered. Each year the ugly roads and scars, made by bulldozers and chainsaws, could be erased, under the supervision of people who have had years of experience and are highly qualified in environmental conservation and restoration — such as landscape architects and environmental conservationists — and native trees planted. This would at least be an honorable moral atonement for the plundered forests and mountains, and could influence other towns and cities to begin to recognize the urgent need for a renewed consciousness of the natural environment in the affairs of men and women, and especially young people — in this anthropocentric age, which is destroying the beautiful sacred Mother Earth.
This could involve grade school through high school-age students, and beyond, in caring for and developing respect and appreciation for nature — in a variety of ways, inside and outside school — and give them a most worthy and noble activity to pursue — and something precious and good to stand up for and defend.
How I wish I could be in the old Wallace High School again, gazing dreamingly out the study hall windows at the lovely, towering mountains.
What a loss! What a shameful loss to the students of today.
FREDERICK K. BARDELLI