Thursday, September 29, 2022

Get ready to Fall for History

Local Editor | September 23, 2022 1:00 AM

WALLACE — We’re just a few days from the annual deep dive into the colorful past that is Wallace’s Fall for History Festival and space is getting limited.

This year the festival is looking at some of the not-so-pretty moments from their beloved town, with the theme of Wallace: A Checkered Past — this will include some of the more notorious events from throughout the former boomtown’s legacy, including a comprehensive look at Black Sunday and how it affected everyone in the area.

For those who don’t remember, Black Sunday is the colloquial name given to June 23, 1991, when more than 150 federal, state and local law enforcement agents made their way into the Silver Valley and raided every bar from Cataldo to Mullan. Their goal was to confiscate and shut down illegal gambling machines in the area, they also made sure that any brothel they encountered was shut down.

On that day, more than 200 video gambling machines were confiscated, along with over half a million dollars in cash, and the two remaining active brothels in Wallace ceased existence.

Almost everyone, particularly in the Wallace business scene, was connected in one way or another to the illicit activity that had been raided and attorneys were needed.

This sequence of events is the setting of one of Fall for History’s marquee events; a discussion panel with local attorneys Mike Branstetter and Hollis Anderson — both of whom were integral to the defense of the Wallace residents and business owners following the raid. Joining them on the panel will be historian Heather Branstetter, who will be able to share insights from the perspective of the brothels and how the raid effectively ended a century-old industry in Wallace.

This year, organizers Janet Feiler and Corki Mattila decided to change a few things up — after years of incorporating the popular home tours throughout Wallace, they will be doing a “Skeletons in the Closet” building tour, where folks will be taken through the Wallace Elks, the Oasis Bordello, the old Wallace Fire Hall, the Sixth Street Theater and the Northern Pacific Railroad Depot. Each of these buildings has delicious little tidbits that are relatively unknown, even by the majority of people who still live in the area.

“Each of them have little nooks and crannies with history that people don’t know about,” Feiler said. “They’ll get to see some things that you don’t normally get to see when you walk into some of these buildings around town.”

“I think a lot of people have forgotten that the theater was the original Lux Rooms,” Mattila said.

That is just a sneak peek of things festival goers will get to learn or even relearn as they make their way through the guided tours.

The festival kicks off Thursday, Sept. 29, with a social hour reception at the Barnard-Stockbridge Museum at 7 p.m. and then runs through Sunday morning.

For more information or to purchase tickets, to any of the events on the festival’s lineup, please visit

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