On my way to Montana, I decided to spend the night in Wallace, Idaho, a town known for its mining history… and prostitution. I booked a night at the seedy, little Stardust Motel (with coin-operated beds)
Unfortunately the mining museum was closed because its only employee decided to take the day off, so I spent the afternoon taking pictures of the snow-covered town. I loved how the houses are built right up to the mountains.
While walking around, I started a conversation with a man who was digging his car out of the snow. He mentioned how most of the mountains behind the town were owned by timber companies. Hunters are allowed on the property to keep the deer and elk population in control. This little tidbit was exactly the situation I needed for my story. I could barely contain my excitement as I spoke to him. I don’t think he was use to talking to someone who was so interested in what he was saying.
Since there wasn’t much left to do in town, I ate dinner at 5pm. I kept myself entertained by reading about prostitution in the town. As enterprising men moved to Wallace for the silver mining opportunities so did enterprising women. At one point, any woman walking down the street alone was considered a prostitute.
The next morning I walked into an antique gun shop and started asking the owner some questions. He stroked his handle-bar mustache that was stained with chewing tobacco and gave me the same answer for every question: “I wouldn’t presume to know the answer to that.” I might not have gotten any information from him, but at least I can base a crazy old character on him.
I stopped by the sheriff’s office to find out about accidents with animals in the town. Wallace is surrounded by wolf packs, bears, cougars and coyotes, but surprisingly enough, the citizens are most frightened of the moose. Apparently moose are very aggressive and destructive, while the predators are weary of humans and stay away. Another interesting fact for my book!
I walked around some more but I started noticing people staring at me. That’s when I remembered the history of prostitution and decided to head out before I got any propositions 😛