Wallace Idaho Chamber of Commerce and Black Chamber of Commerce of Orange County Form Friendship Agreement
WALLACE, IDAHO — The Historic Wallace Idaho Chamber of Commerce and the Black Chamber of Commerce of Orange County formally became sister chambers during a special ceremony in Anaheim, Ca. August 22nd.
Bobby McDonald, President of the Black Chamber of Commerce of Orange County and Dave Copelan, Wallace Chamber coordinator, signed the joint chamber agreement at the Black Chamber of OC annual banquet.
“We are both pleased and honored to be associated with the Historic Wallace Chamber,” McDonald said. “We hope this friendship agreement between our Chambers will lead to ever more business and cultural contacts between our organizations.”
The friendship agreement was born out of the warm welcome given to Buffalo Soldier Iron Rider re-enactors this June. They were in Wallace by special invitation of the Wallace Chamber. McDonald is an Iron Rider re-enactor, and the group’s designated spokesperson.
“Folks were genuinely thrilled and honored to have Buffalo Soldiers back in Wallace, “Copelan said. “I can’t count the number of times people came up to our re-enactors to shake hands and say ‘thanks’”.
The June event commemorated a little known experiment in military history. Back in 1896-97 the U.S. Army was experimenting with the bicycle as a way to move troops en masse. That mission was awarded to the Buffalo Soldiers 25th Infantry Regiment stationed at Ft. Missoula.
Nicknamed “Iron Riders” both for the 55 .lbs one-speed bikes they pedaled and their iron hard constitutions, the men of the 25th successfully biked nearly 3,000 miles across the continent.
Re-enactors rode portions of the Route of the Hiawatha Trail and Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes, Idaho’s only Hall of Fame Rail Trails, to honor both the historic rides and Buffalo Soldiers’ other valiant contributions in Wallace and North Idaho. Those missions included enforcing martial law in Wallace during the 1890s labor strife, and saving North Idaho communities in the Great Fire of 1910—still America’s largest ever wild land fire.
Once back in Anaheim, Chamber President McDonald invited the Wallace Chamber to become a sister chamber, and formalize the relationship at his chamber’s annual banquet – a black tie affair to honor community members, veterans and major contributors.
“It was a great event,” Copelan said. “Wallace and North Idaho received some priceless exposure through the Black Chamber’s efforts. They are doing a magnificent job to spread the story of the beauty, history and hospitality of our area.”
Watch the Black Chamber of Commerce of Orange County’s video “Our Trek to Wallace Idaho.”