Why The Center Of The Universe Is In Idaho

“The arts put man at the center of the universe, whether he belongs there or not.” —Kurt Vonnegut

In a Nutshell

Wallace, Idaho is one of a handful of town in Idaho’s Silver Valley region, famous for not only its silver mining but also for other chemicals and compounds that no one has been able to satisfactorily prove to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are harmless. Since the EPA has said that if things can’t be satisfactorily disproved then they must be, in fact, proved, Wallace has declared itself the Center of the Universe. It’s never been disproved that it’s not the center, so therefore . . . it is.

The Whole Bushel

On September 25, 2004, Ron Garitone, the mayor of Wallace, Idaho, declared his city to be the official Center of the Universe. There’s a plaque and everything. Well, “plaque” is a pretty generous term.

It’s actually an engraved sewer access cover that’s right in the middle of the intersection of Bank and Sixth Streets in the historic district of the Idaho city. It was dedicated in 2004, and every year the locals go the extra mile to re-establish their unique spot in what’s quite the middle of everything. There’s even a Miss Center of the Universe contest, part of a scholarship program that benefits local students.

The whole thing started when the mayor got wind of a pretty questionable way in which the EPA was conducting some of their business. According to the EPA, “if something can’t be disproved, it must be true.”

It’s referred to as the science of probabilism, and it’s been used by the EPA and by the Department of Health and Welfare. Specifically, it’s been used by the EPA against a handful of the towns near Wallace. Once known as the silver capital of the world, Wallace was a booming mining town in the 1890s. While many of the buildings that were constructed at the time were burned down in a massive fire that destroyed a third of the town in 1910, the town remains a monument to the history of the West. (The town is also notable for being on the national Historic Register in its entirety.)

Wallace and the surrounding silver mining towns needed to prove that their streets were a healthy environment for their citizens, or else be subject to more rules and regulations from the EPA. More than one billion ounces of silver have come from the mines of the towns along the Silver Valley, but along with the silver and the mining operations came some less-than-desirable chemicals like lead sulfide. It’s led to a long-standing debate about just how dangerous the compound is, and while the towns say their miners have been working with the stuff for decades with no ill effects, the EPA says that it all needs to be cleaned up—and the town needed to prove that it was a safe place to live.

And since they couldn’t conclusively prove that, the EPA said that their safety value was effectively disproved by a lack of proof.

Understandably miffed, Garitone then declared that since there wasn’t the smallest shred of evidence indicating that Wallace wasn’t the center of the universe, that by the same reasoning, it clearly was. They went so far as to contact scientists as far away as Moscow, looking for some bit of proof that Wallace wasn’t actually the center of the universe. Since they couldn’t find anything, they made it official.

The Center of the Universe, it turns out, sits between the Four Corners of the Universe: Bunker Hill, the Sunshine, the Galena and the Lucky Friday—all mines.

Show Me The Proof

Center of Universe—Wallace, Idaho
Historic Wallace Idaho
Silver Capital Of The World
Merriam-Webster: Probabilism

  • Clyde Barrow

    I lived in Kellogg, Idaho for 4 years in the early 1990’s, about 10 miles east of Wallace. The Silver Valley is an interesting place, rich in history. However, the EPA has declared most of the valley a SuperFund site, as the silver/lead smelter that operated until 1981 did massive damage to the environment. The South Fork of the Coeur D’Alene river is known by locals as “Lead Creek”, as the water had a similar color as the metal, and fish still can’t live in it.

  • Hillyard

    When I was growing up in Spokane, WA all we ever heard about Wallace was that the town was noted for the amount of whorehouses there. My Dad told me that the place had been cleaned up way back when but the reputation persisted.

    • lonelydisco

      Is “whore” here a euphemism for “cancer patient”?

      • They had a lot of whorehouses… y’know, like ARCA.

      • Hillyard

        No the home for the mentally slow is (or was at least) in Medical Lake, WA

    • Clyde Barrow

      Oh yeah, I heard those stories!

      • lonelydisco

        So have I – about the whole of the Western World. Yeah, uncomfortable.

  • Gary

    Kind of worrisome that the EPA views science the same way as the “god of the gaps” religious idiots. More proof that our Enviroment isn’t being effectively Protected by Anyone.

  • beyondEinstein

    Scientist Galileo looking- Earth is can’t center point of the Universe yet-
    I am looking Earth is center point from our location. https://shahidurrahmansikder.wordpress.com/2010/01/05/31/
    or See Universe Figure- https://shahidurrahmansikder.wordpress.com/2010/01/08/httpwww-beyond2009-org/
    or https://shahidurrahmansikder.wordpress.com/2010/01/21/centre-of-the-universe/

    See My DEMO Final https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wYcnbwUKUEM