Discover the Past

Let us take you back to when railroads were a primary mode of transportation for both people and freight

An Iconic Train Depot Museum

Detailed photos and exhibits tell the rich history of railroading in the Coeur d’Alene Mining District, historic Wallace, Idaho, and the Northern Pacific Depot

A Different Kind of Rail History

The Northern Pacific Railway Depot Museum interprets the history of railroads in the region known as the Coeur d’Alene Mining District located in Shoshone County, ID

WELCOME TO THE WALLACE DEPOT

The Museum

Exhibits tell the rich history of railroading in the Coeur d’Alene Mining District and the Depot itself. 

Let us take you back to when railroads were a primary mode of transportation for both people and freight. Railroads have been at work in the Silver Valley’s mining region since 1886. The last train to service the area (Union Pacific) ran on July 15th, 1994.

The Depot

The château style depot, which houses the museum and gift shop, has been a focal point of the grand architecture and historical heritage of Wallace. 

The Northern Pacific Depot Museum features a replica of a working railroad agent’s room from the turn of the 20th Century, where you can see a beautiful old safe and even talk on a real telephone from 1908! 

Become a Member

The Northern Pacific Depot Foundation has kept the historic Depot building thriving as an amazing Railroad Museum and trailhead for the Trail of the Coeur d’Alene’s bicycle path along the former railroad bed between Mullan and Plummer.

 We collect, manage, preserve, and exhibit memorabilia that tell the story of the railroad’s impact on the Coeur d’Alene Mining District.

*Gallery Photos by Lizzie Keitel Photography Copyright © 2021 All Rights Reserved

THE northern pacific railway route

EXPLORE THE MUSEUM

NORTHERN PACIFIC DEPOT STATION

As you enter the museum, you step into the re-creation of an early working railroad station. Exhibits tell the rich history of railroading in the Coeur d’Alene Mining District and the depot itself. Railroads have been at work in the Coeur d’Alene silver mining region since 1887. The last train to service the area (Union Pacific) was July 15th, 1994.

RING THE NORTHERN PACIFIC’S STEAM LOCOMOTIVE NO. 4025 DEPOT BELL

QUICK DEPOT FACTS

  • First Rail Service in the Silver Valley 1886
  • Northern Pacific Depot Constructed in 1901
  • Iconic Chateau Architecture
  • Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976
  • The last train operated by Northern Pacific (Burlington Northern) in 1978
  • Moved to Present Location in 1986

NORTHERN PACIFIC RAILROAD IMPACTS

CONNECTING EAST TO WEST THROUGH WALLACE

The construction of the Northern Pacific Railroad was an arduous task. Scouting favorable routes through valleys and over mountain ranges proved to be a formidable challenge for railroad surveyors and engineers. Bridges had to be built, tunnels driven, and construction materials delivered. Many of the routes we drive today are owed to the skillful surveyors, engineers, and laborers of the Northern Pacific.

A Golden Spike Completing the Railroad was Driven near Gold Creek, MT by President Ulysses S. Grant

Elevation of Lookout Pass (Feet Above Sea Level)

Average Miles of Track Laid Per Day by NPR Crews in 1883

Acres of Land Granted By Congress to Construct the Northern Pacific Railroad

MIning & Timber Riches of The silver valley

‘The Northern Pacific Railroad was an important addition to the Coeur d’Alene Mining District.  It brought a skilled workforce and the development of Timber, Mining, Farming, and other industries that could capitalize on the region’s economic riches.  It allowed for people, goods, and services to flow freely to western port cities like Seattle, Tacoma, and Portland, and eastward as well, making many millionaire empires possible. 

Board Feet of Timber Produced by 10 Counties in North Idaho in 1926

Ounces of Silver Mined Since 1884

Tons of Lead Mined Since 1884

Tons of Zinc Mined Since 1884

NATIONAL PARKS – IF YOU BUILD IT, THEY WILL COME

While the Northern Pacific Railroad established routes that moved people and commerce westward, it also allowed for the growth of tourism. With the advent of the rails, Americans were free to visit the wonders of the National Parks located out west. Railroads quickly realized the beautiful scenery along their passenger routes would attract interest. Destination travel from point A to point B was quickly eclipsed by thousands of tourists from the east wanting to experience the National Parks.  

Miles from Wallace to Glacier National Park

Miles from Wallace to Yellowstone National Park

Miles from Wallace to Mt. Rainier National Park

Miles from Wallace to Banff National Park, Canada

MAKING THE GRADE – CLIMBING LOOKOUT PASS

With the construction of Interstate 90 (I-90), today’s automobile route over Lookout Pass is much more direct. Northern Pacific trains headed west following a more circuitous route up the pass. The tracks ran along gentler grades, ranging from 2% to 3.5% to accommodate their heavy loads. This animation gives a unique perspective of the route up to the top of Lookout Pass before its descent into Idaho and on into the Wallace Depot which was the terminus of this Northern Pacific rail spur.

*Video “The steep track of serpent – Northern Pacific’s Lookout Pass”  VNV Nation – Saviour by Trainsume Copyright © 2021 All Rights Reserved

DEPOT HOBO BINGO (COMING SOON!)

THE SECRET CODE OF THE HOBO

Beginning in the 1880’s, a hobo’s mark was placed on fences, posts, sidewalks, buildings, trestles, bridge abutments, and railroad line side equipment to aid them in finding help or avoiding trouble. These symbols would be written in chalk or coal, letting others know what they could expect in the area of the symbol. Click on a symbol below to see what its secret meaning is!

 

ADDITIONAL TOURIST INFORMATION

Learn More About the Routes

NORTHERN PACIFIC DEPOT MUSEUM

The Northern Pacific Depot Museum is the perfect meeting spot and jump off point to explore the trails. The Wallace region abounds with recreational opportunities. Ride the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes or the Route of the Hiawatha. Hike the Pulaski Trail. Explore Historic Wallace. Visit the ghost town of Burke. Then meet back at the Museum to tell us about your adventures! If you need directions or information, just ask! We’re happy to help.