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Metaline Falls Filled In On Costner’s Plans For Town Filmmaker To Cover Streets In Dirt For Apocalyptic Vision

Hollywood filled the streets of Wallace with lava and ash last year for “Dante’s Peak.” This summer, filmmakers will fill Metaline Falls streets with dirt.

Unlike the lava, the dirt will be real. So will the horses.

Metaline Falls residents got confirmation in two community meetings Sunday that their historic town will be one of several sites where a Kevin Costner movie called “The Postman” will be filmed.

Details are sketchy, but the work - including preparation and cleanup - is expected to take six weeks to two months in Metaline Falls. The downtown and residential districts will be filmed separately to represent two different towns.

A wall, to be built across a street between two apartment buildings, will be blasted with a cannon. There’s no word on what else may be blown up.

Other filming is planned at nearby Boundary Dam, where a village of huts will be constructed.

“It will be almost like a Western, in the future a long time from now,” said cafe owner Cathy Petrich.

Costner will play a heroic mailman in a post-apocalyptic world that has reverted to horses for transportation. Paved streets have reverted to dirt.

Even the big state Highway 31 bridge over the Pend Oreille River will be covered with dirt, Mayor Lee McGowan said.

“We’re surrounded by dirt roads anyway, you know, so I personally don’t have any apprehension,” said Eva Gayle Six, artistic director of the town’s Cutter Theatre.

But resident Charles Taylor said David Israel, location manager for the movie, confided Monday that he saw some residents “visibly quiver” when they heard about the dirt.

Metaline Falls was coated in gray cement dust for 80 years until the Lafarge cement plant closed in 1990.

“Nobody is going to complain out loud,” Taylor said, noting the town’s economy has been flatter than the Canadian dollar since the cement plant closed.

Canadian shoppers, who became the town’s new economic engine, are now staying away in droves. So are Spokane skiers who might have passed through on their way to Canada if they hadn’t had so much snow at home this winter.

McGowan said the movie executives assured residents they will prevent storm sewers from becoming clogged with dirt “if it rains for 30 days the way it can up here.”

Anyway, Taylor said, noting there is still about 3-1/2 feet of snow on the ground, “it might not thaw out in time for them to get started.”

The biggest problem for the movie may be finding a place to put the crew. Almost all the rentals in the area are already taken.

“They’re bringing in 220 people, which is doubling our population,” McGowan said. “I don’t know where they’re going to put them. They might even have to put in their own trailer park, I don’t know.”

One possibility under discussion is that Warner Bros. and Costner’s TIG Productions might pay to speed up renovation of the 52-unit Pend Oreille Apartments. Owner Carla Lungo said two managers already have taken rooms and established an office in the four-story, turn-of-the-century building.

Lungo said she thinks the moviemakers also hope to rent some of the summer homes along the Pend Oreille River.

Moe Mosby, who operates a drivein restaurant in nearby Metaline, speculated that some of the crew members will have to commute from Colville, a distance of 53 miles. Wherever they stay, he just hopes they’ll stop by once in a while for one of the Postman Burgers he plans to offer.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo

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