WALLACE'S SLIPPERY GULCH
What follows is a short history of the most fabulous celebration this historic Coeur d'Alene Mining District has ever seen. Sponsored by local clubs to raise funds for various causes over the years the event has become the sort of thing legends are made from and certainly an event not to be missed.
This year's Slippery Gulch will be staged July 23, 24 & 25th in connection with the Wallace 125 year anniversary celebration and all-class reunion. This year's celebration, like the 1946 celebration, will help raise funds for various local groups along with our Veterans Memorial Building that was constructed during the late 1940's and is currently used by numerous community organizations.
Slippery Gulch will carry the Gay 1890's theme. It will have the natural atmosphere that comes with the largest, richest, and one of the oldest silver mining districts in the World. Wallace is already getting ready for the event, the hotels are all reserved, stores are planning their decorations, and men in the community have begun raising beards for the historic event. Our Gay 1890's atmosphere will be colossal with concessions, bar, games, street dancing, food, prizes, and entertainment featuring the Wallace Men's Culture Club & Can-Can dancers. We hope everyone will be able to join us in this amazing celebration.
1920 – The 10/14/20 edition of the Wallace Miner has one news article stating that 'The Slippery Gulch Show proved to be a big success'. That year's theme was: 'The Days of Old, The Days of Gold, The Days of '49.' The Gulch was put on under the auspices of the Elks in a large tent in front of Howarth Hall. $3,350 was raised exclusively for the Salvation Army. The Wallace Elks put the event together with members from Mullan, Burke & Kellogg assisting with entertainment.
1946 – This is usually credited as being the 1st Slippery Gulch and it was put on by the Gyros and was held in conjunction with the 5th Gyro Derby. It seems the fundraising drive was $20,000 short of the $250,000 needed to build a Veterans Memorial Building later known as Civic Auditorium. The event celebrated the Roaring 1880's and was held in Howarth Hall (aka Hale Garage Building next to the Wallace pool). Over 6200 people attended and they gave away numerous prizes including a Radio-Phonograph, 300 pairs of nylons & 300 pounds of sugar to help them raise $11,215. The event was such a success that a Board of Directors was formed and Slippery Gulch became a non profit organization in 1951.
1947 – This was the first year featuring the Slippery Gulch Dancers (male can-can girls) and a Roaring 1880's celebration. Over 4000 people attended “Black Mike's Review” (aka Gus Voltolini). The review was held in the Liberty Theatre (now the Day Rock) while booths & other attractions where held on Cedar St. Miss Margaret Gillis was named Queen. The Wallace Jr. (under 35 yrs old) Chamber put on the celebration and the money raised was used to build bleachers on the hillside next to what has become known as Sather Field.
1951 – 6000 people attended the Gulch as it was held in Civic Auditorium. The Dew Drop Gold mine near Murray, two residential lots in Silverton, & other prizes valued at $10,000 were raffled. They celebrated the “Gay 1890's” and Eileen Hoban was named Queen. Mayor Cliff Magnuson passed a law that all men should celebrate with whiskers or be thrown in jail & forced to pay a fine in order to be released. The jail consisted of an enclosed fencing known as the bullpen. The male can-can dancers performed along with the well-known Tony Pastor Dance Band.
1958 – The 75 year Anniversary of Wallace was celebrated in great form. They painted Hotel Street silver so everyone knew how to get to the Gulch. The “Lady Can-Can Girls” danced and were the hit of the entertainment along with the national show of “Hoosier Hot Shots” who came in to perform their Singing Comedy show. They raised $21,700 for participating Civic organizations and the Queen was Cleo Bardelli.
1976 – Our nations Bicentennial was celebrated in Wallace with another Slippery Gulch & Gyro Derby. There was a big parade through town and everyone was taken back to the “Gay 1890's.” Men without whiskers were put in jail. The Sunset–Star Silver Mine was raffled off and the event raised over $8700 for various charitable organizations in the Wallace District. The Wallace pool was stocked with over 1000 fish for kids to catch over the three days. The male can-can dancers provided lots of laughs for everyone.
1984 – Wallace turns 100 and what better way to celebrate than with a Slippery Gulch as part of the year long gala. The Nycalops Silver Mine was raffled off and over $12,000 was raised for local non-profits. Jodi Lilienkamp (now Roletto) was named Queen. The lady can-can dancers entertained but the recent forming of the 'Wallace Men's Culture Club' and their stunning rendition of Swan Lake stole the show.
1990 – Idaho centennial celebrations were held all over the state, but in Wallace, a Slippery Gulch was held. $7500 was raised and donated to the various charitable organizations that participated. Another 1000 fish were stocked into the pool for 3 days of fishing. This was the last year of the Whiskers Proclamation where men were put in 'jail' for not having a beard as it seemed to cause many fights. The Wallace Men's Culture Club performed Swan Lake & The Can-Can dance to entertain everyone when they weren't trying their luck at various games of chance.
2000 – A new millennium and another Slippery Gulch. Over $7,000 was raised and again donated to the various organizations that participated. The All-Class Reunion helps to draw people from all over the nation that went to school in Wallace. Many rumors circulated that this would be the last performance of the Wallace Men's Culture Club as they now represented over 1000 lbs. of Swan when the 4 men came to stage for Swan Lake. Over 6,000 people visited the Gulch for the 3 day celebration.
2009 – Wallace is 125 years old – what will this year's Gulch bring? Will the Men's Culture Club be able to perform again? Will they raffle off the 'Slippery Gulch' Silver Mine? Will the streets be painted silver? Be a part of history on July 23 – 25th as this colossal celebration returns to its birthplace in Civic Auditorium.