Introduction To The Heritage Society Of Ely Minnesota
533 E Sheridan St, Ely Mn. by Darla Zwalaski
Most of you who visit Ely Minnesota,or perhaps have heard about Ely.There is always that good chance it had something to do with fishing,hunting,camping,perhaps just the beauty of the area in that news article,or TV segment.
Well,please take the time to take a moment to learn about some of the heritage up this way.Don't worry,well keep it interesting by throwing in a little history in,and making the past as colorful as possible when we step back in time,while our words share with you some of the other interesting facts up this way.Such as the historical/heritage adventures about Ely.
At one time before the fur traders first explored the county(St. Louis County) in the 1700's.The area was quite different than it is today.Many of you have no clue how different things were back then.Even the landscape,the forests,and the lakes were quite different.In other words a map of the area,and a detailed description from a professional envoromentalist,giving a report on the area 300 years ago,would come to the conclusion even in the physical,this area is not the same as it was then.
The same goes for the heritage.Things change,and the heritage of Ely even to this day is still changing,and good chances are more historical events that have not even taken place yet,are most likely still to come for Ely.
When the first white explorers came through the region in the 1700's,their eyes were foccused on the fur trade almost immediately.They encountered the true natives of the land,and this Native American tribe was called the Ojibwe,also refered to as the Chippewa.
The beaver population was spectacular at that time,and many trappers made a very good living with the price of a beaver pelt.An experienced trapper in this area back in those day,could be described as hitting the jackpot,just as if one was prospecting for gold and struck it rich.
Of course there were prospectors,and those who tried their luck looking for gold up this way.I read one article on the "Vermillion Gold Rush"(1865-1866).I think the "rush" part of that is the rush of the individuals who hurried up this way,and that's as "rush" as it gets.They found flake,or maybe a better way of saying it they found microscopic flakes.So after a year they moved on west in the state,trying their luck their.This part of history up this way has maybe a year in the history books.
However,the prospecting for gold gave great attention to the vast deposits of Iron Ore up this way,and this adventure has put a hundred years in the history books up this way.
At the same time lumber was needed for laying track,used as support beams in the mines,to the homes built,and the fuel source to heat them.It wasn't long after,towns were erected all over the country with the trees we had so vastly in the area.That added another hundred years of heritage with the lumbering going on side,by side with the miners doing their job.
This was Ely's boom rush,where families migrated from all over the U.S. hoping for a new start,and some well paying jobs.It was good pay for the times,and steady work for those who wanted to lay down roots here.That's what created our town.Job security and a good way to make a living.
Not always an easy living.In those days these jobs were very hard work,and very dangerous.Not all who made it up this way prospered.
The different nationalities of the residents!!...Heritage Galore!!
When Ely was finally considered a community,they gave it the date 1888 as being officially incorporated,but many of us feel our community was long established before that date.Did you know that at one time Ely had a prior name?It was called Florence when first incorporated.However before that,the Chippewa called this area "Que Quam Chep".This word mean "land of the berries".If you've ever been up this way,you can easily understand why they named it after the abundant berries that grow up this way.Rasberries & blueberries in particular...We don't think they had "June Berries" in mind,because those trees were not as common in this area,untill after the logging took place.
Now we're sure you want to get some hands on experience on the heritage up this way,and not just get your joy of this knowledge off a webpage.So let us discuss some of the locations up this way that you can visit,and really feel like you're going back in time,instead of just reading about it.
Now if you're going to be visiting Ely,and you have an interest such as we do in the past,and want to learn a bit more.Here are some interesting historical places you may want to consider visiting.I know many just have the North American Bear Center,and the International Wolf Center on mind when site seeing up this way,but consider some history in your trip as well,and these locations will give a you a true taste of Ely,in its history & heritage.
Bois Forte Heirtage Center & Cultural Museum
Here is a heritage center that could be called the historical cultural museum that covers the Native American region in its entireity.It's called the Bois Forte Heritage & Cultural Museum.
It's like stepping back in time,and one really gets a good glimpse of the past regarding the Ojibwe's past up here.This heritage museum showcases the past,from how they lived,the days of the fur trade,and even has a wall with the names of the Ojibwe who served our country in the military.
You'll find the Native American Culture up this way some of the most interesting history you could learn about,and the heritage in this region starts with them.
From their spiritual
ity,their way of life,and their history on their migration to the area.The exhibits are beautiful.From wigwams,to fur trading posts,to re-creations of an earlier time with their presentations.The educational topics at this museum will amaze you,and first time visitors never knew history could be so interesting.
Bois Forte Heritage Center and Cultural Museum
Fortune Bay Casino
1500 Bois Forte Road
Soudan Underground Mine
The Soundan Underground Mine is more than a historical experience.The mining up this way created the heritage of the community,and the greater region wherever the iron ore mines may be located.
The Soundan Underground mine is one of the deepest mines in the state,and the U of M conducts physics experiments there due to the perfection of this mine so deep,and so embedded in rock that it blocks out certain cosmic rays from the sun.
But back to the history & heritage,and we can leave the physics for another time.
The Soudan Mine gives tours in the late spring/summer months,and it gives the vistor a true impression what it was like to be an underground ore miner back in the day.
The families still here today with more than a generation under their belt,,have their roots in the area from the mining days long ago.
Germans,Polish,Austrian,Finlanders,Norwegians,and many more trace their roots back with ease,and the mines are truely responsible for a lot of the heritage up this way.
So take the tour,and take a ride on the elavator that brings you 100's of feet below ground where the temperature stays almost steady all year long,and listen to the tour guide.He has alot of history to share,that is just as interesting as the mine tour itself.
Soudan Underground Mine
1302 McKinley Park Road
Soudan, MN 55782
Ely-Winton History Museum
This is a cute little museum that specializes in the mining & logging history here in town.Very informational for those into old photographs & maps of the area.
It sure is interesting up this way,when the town's museum is the history of what made up the town to begin with.History & heritage don't get no better than this.
1900 East Camp St., Ely, MN 55731
Thank you for visiting,and we'll most definately keep you updated in the history,and cultural events Ely Minnesota will be hosting.There is always something going on in this neck of the woods,and rest assured we really enjoy sharing the history that is responsible for making Ely what it is today.
Darla Zwalowski ..Coordinator for the Ely Heritage Society