Lumberjacks stand in the snow outside the buildings that made up their camp. On the back of this card is a note from one man to a woman named Belle in DeSota, Kansas telling her that he might be coming to see her next week.
The current building opened its doors on December 13, 1930. It was only the second municipal building in Ely and with only one remodel done in 2014 - 2015, the building still functions well as the home of Ely's city government, fire hall, and police station.
Another Great Depression-era building whose life hangs in the balance. It stands empty since the City of Ely built a new library and left the building untenented. In its heyday it housed the library, club rooms, a ballroom on the top floor with a movie theater, a full kitchen, public showers, and more.
Rail service reached Winton in 1902 when the Duluth and Iron Range Railroad extended service to Fall Lake and Winton. Sixty years later the station was still open two hours each day as the train still thundered through.
An outcropping of Greenstone rock is located in Ely. Greenstone is one of the olest known Minnesota rocks and it is located just a few blocks off Camp Street in Ely, Minnesota.It is called Pillow Rock because of the clearly visible rounded shapes formed within this mass of lava flow. An effort has been underway to remove Pillow Rock to a location more accessible to tourists.
This Greek Revival-style building became the permanent home of the American Fraternal Union in 1933. Founded and incorporated on July 18, 1898, the offices were in two previous locations before this building was constructed. The office closed in 2012 and the home office was moved to St. Paul, Minnesota.
Part 1 of 2: Elderly residents of Pioneer Apartments in 1977. They discuss school memories from early 1900s including teachers, activities, and sports. They also discuss after school activities including their chores, outdoor games, winter sports, dances, picnics, and family life. Other topics include: boarding houses and boarders, the Pengilly Mine, and the Ojibwe families on Burntside Lake and Basswood Lake. Also discussed are the 1910 forest fire and the Vail Hotel fire. Part 2 of 2: Interview with former teacher Mrs. Evancho...? Teacher and principal at the 26-Zenith-Savoy location school which had two classrooms and two teachers. She taught grades 3-6. Mr. Burns, superintendent.
Interview with Frank and Stan Smuk. Frank and Stan were the sons of Yugoslav immigrant parents. The two men began work in the mines in 1941 and 1947 respectively. Stan worked with the mine credit union while Frank was a contract miner. They spoke of the pranks they pulled on other workers. Accidents were frequent. Rocks fell on workers and the tunnels collapsed. Even with broken bones men would go to work and be given light duty. The Smuk brothers did a lot of hunting and fishing. The whole family played the accordion. They also played on the city softball teams that competed against other towns. Frank belongs to the American Legion and the VFW. He had served in the Air Force during World War II. Stan was blind in one eye so was turned down for the army.
Interview with Hulda Koski and Mrs. Nick Korent. Note: this interview is transcript-only. There is no audio available. Together they discuss early life in Ely, life growing up on a farm, early Ely schools.
Interviews with Mary Mackie, Mary Berrini, and Beatrice Masnari. They discuss immigration. Mackie's and Berrini's parents emigrated from Italy seeking better lives and jobs. Masnari arrived in 1931 to join her husband who had come to Ely some years before. Italian was spoken at home, but they learned English at school. They lived in the Chandler Location where the housing costs were paid by the owners. They discuss their chores, including hauling water in boilers on sleds or wagons, carrying buckets of water using yokes, and pumping well water. Lake water was used for gardens and washing clothes. Drinking water was dipped from a pail. Bringing in wood and hauling out ashes, shoveling snow, scrubbing floors (three times a week). Sense of community: People got along well, helping each other out. Groups of men would hunt together and share game. Families shared garden produce and people would help each other building homes. In addition to gardens, families had chickens, ducks, geese, rabbits and cows. Many home remedies were used for illnesses. Making grappa (wine). Games and entertainment included Bocce ball, Briscola, and adult card game, movies, Duck on the Rock, making skimmers from barrel staves, rolling hoops, carnivals and circuses. Shops and peddlers: The Chocolate Shop, Mr. Bismark's candy store, grocery stores that delivered, Mr. Giacomo's ice cream cart, the door-to-door scissors sharpener who came to Ely once a year, the organ grinder and his monkey. They discuss their Christmas memories, when Italian traditions were observed with Italian foods. The Christmas tree was decorated with candy, popcorn, and candles. Christmas gifts included fruit, nuts, and candy.
This interview discusses the topic of immigration and Angela's parents, Rosalie and John, and their journey from Yugoslavia, circa 1890. Angela was born in Ely on August 17, 1900. She also discusses family life, Lincoln School, St. Anthony's Catholic Church, her marriage, mines, and life in early Ely.
Interview with Anna Camaish. Anna came to America with her mother in 1914. Her father had left Yugoslavia in 1906. The family came to Biwabik, Minnesota first where the father worked in the Bangor Mine. When it closed he worked in the Biwabik Mine and the Aurora Mine until they too played out. Then the family moved to Ely where he worked in the Pioneer Mine. Anna compares life in Yugoslavia with life in America and while they were poor in both countries, being poor in America was a lot better. People here helped each other. Not so in the old country. In Yugoslavia her mother would work weeding gardens for 15 cents a day and often the family went hungry. In America they had a pig, chickens, a cow, and rabbits. They sold eggs and milk, and raised vegetables. Anna remembers the Influenza Epidemic of 1918-1919 with all the schools closed. She compares the way women were treated in Yugoslavia to the way they were treated in America where it was the women and children first, not last. Anna met her husband Joe when working at the Chocolate Shop. She was 21 when they married. He was English and her mother felt inferior to him although he always treated her well. The Englishmen had all the top mining jobs.
Interview with Bob Olson of Canoe Country Outfitters. Bob Olson started the business in 1950 when there were no restrictions on traveling in what was the Superior National Forest. In the 1960s the environmentalists were beginning to get laws passed restricting travel in what became the BWCA. In 1964 the Wilderness Bill was passed with partial bans on motors and no cans and bottles could be taken into the area. Ely became known as "Canoe Town" and it was advertised that way heavily at sports shows and in magazines. Resentment was beginning to grow and even in 1979 Bob was aware of the resentment shown by local people towards the tourists. He goes on to talk about outfitters losing business at the rate of 3-5% per year since 1970 due to the quota system and other restrictions. he estimated that by 1980 it would be 20-30%.
Interview with Ben Richards. Ben Richards was born in Dodgeville, Wisconsin and moved to Ely in 1916 when he was 21. He worked for the Todd Stanbow Mining Company and then in the Xenith Mine in 1928 as a superintendent. He would go underground three days a week to inspect the work. He had mostly Finnish and Slovak workers and was responsible for more than 400 men. He attended the Presbyterian church. The population of Ely was around 6,000, so there were many students attending school. The mines provided 90% of the funding for the schools. He loved working in the underground mine. The draft during World War II took most of the younger men so they had to hire men in their late 50s early 60s. He worked in the mines from 1916 to 1959. Ben noted that he didn't see much of a future for Ely without mining.
Interview with Cecil Kuitenen. He discusses his immigration from Finland in 1901 at 4 years old. Steerage class aboard the "RMS Umbria" through Ellis Island, New York. He also talks about Winton, Minnesota and sawmills, logging, jobs, boarding house, housing, schools, and Finn Hall including the plays, lectures, library, basket socials, apron socials, and the Winton church. He talks about mining at Section 30. He also speaks about his return visit to Finland and the social/political landscape of Europe. He relates his reasons for leaving Finland, Finnish/Swedish relations, Finnish/Russian relations, the Winter War. He also discusses the social/political aspect of Minnesota including U.S. citizenship, unions, socialists. Individuals mentioned: mill owners, Knox, Torinus brothers, Ely banker Mr. White, Sunday School teachers Mrs. Anderson, and Mrs. Johnson (Ruby Nichols Johnson).
Interview with Checker Hillman. Checker Hillman was born in Two Harbors in 1911. His maternal grandmother was Irish. His maternal grandfather, William LaBeau (LeBeau), was French and he left home in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan as a young teenager. Family history claims a relative traveled the Great Lakes in "the big canoes," to Grand Portage and Fort William, possibly a voyageur. William and his wife traveled by wagon from Duluth to Tower, Minnesota where their son, William LaBeau, Jr., was born in 1883 - he was the first white child born north of Duluth. William (Sr.) worked for Bob Whiteside as a driller with a team of several men that traveled by canoe form Tower to the Ely area to explore for ore. William never worked as a miner, but he did work as a fireman, the chief of police in Ely, and a policeman for the Oliver Mine. Checker's father, who worked for the D & IRR, died of an unknown illness when Checker was very young. Checker, his two younger sisters, and his mother went to live with his maternal grandparents. Checker discusses early Ely. There was an influx of immigrants after iron ore was discovered in the Ely area, mostly Finnish and Slovenian with Cornish mine bosses. The adult immigrants segregated themselves, but their children later intermarried. Checker discusses mining. There were no unions in the early days. There were safety issues, i.e. workers wore soft hats, no hard-toed boots. The candles and later carbide lamps provided poor light. Conditions in the mines varied. For example, the Pioneer Mine had many mud slides due to the wet, soft, ground conditions. The Zenith Mine, which had harder ground, didn't have issues with mud slides. Techniques ranged from "drifing and slicing" at the Pioneer Mine to "cave" mining at the Zenith Mine. Augers could be used in softer ground (auger ground) instead of drilling with bits. Checker recounts two fatal accidents in the Zenith Mine. One man was killed when an overhead slab fell on him. Mines were like small communities with teams of men doing various jobs: drillers, tuggers, maintenance, electricians, and so on. Underground miners worked in two-man teams. Checker started working about age 15 or 16 at the Pioneer Mine stock pile for $2.50 for a 10-hour day. Older workers could make $3.50 per day. When he started working in the Xenith Mine in the late 1930s or early 1940s, there was no union. As the union began to organize he was reluctant to join because he had promised an uncle and the mine superintendent, Ben Richards, that he wouldn't. He was pressured by a union organizer, George Kochevar, to join, and did eventually - one of the last to sign up.
Interview with Frances Nelson. Frances Nelson tells her granddaughter what Ely was like in 1915. There were no sidewalks or cars but transportation was by horse and wagons. There was one grocery store. There were a lot of Finnish and Slovenians and many of them didn't speak English. Milk was 5 cents a quart. Her family used the wood for heat and cooking because they had no coal. They walked everywhere and carried their lunches to school. When World War I broke out there was a diphtheria epidemic and they were quarantined. Native Americans would come around and ask for work. She said her family was very poor with no changes of clothing. When World War II broke out all of her brothers were drafted. One brother came home with yellow jaundice. She felt people were healthier then though because there were no chemicals in their food.