Ely, Minnesota



 Map of Minnesota highlighting Saint Louis County  Northern MN - 029  Burntside Lake BWCAW

Note: Map of Minnesota highlighting Saint Louis County // Northern MN – 029 // Burntside Lake BWCAW

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Ely, Minnesota

Ely, Minnesota
City

Location of the city of Ely
within Saint Louis County, Minnesota
Coordinates: 47°54′8″N 91°51′21″W / 47.90222°N 91.85583°W / 47.90222; -91.85583Coordinates: 47°54′8″N 91°51′21″W / 47.90222°N 91.85583°W / 47.90222; -91.85583
Country United States
State Minnesota
County Saint Louis
Area
  Total 2.74 sq mi (7.10 km2)
  Land 2.73 sq mi (7.07 km2)
  Water 0.01 sq mi (0.03 km2)
Elevation 1,427 ft (435 m)
Population (2010)
  Total 3,460
  Estimate (2016) 3,390
  Density 1,300/sq mi (490/km2)
Time zone Central (CST) (UTC-6)
  Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
ZIP codes 55731
Area code(s) 218
FIPS code 27-19142
GNIS feature ID 0661205
Website www.ely.mn.us

Ely (/ˈli/ EE-lee) is a city in Saint Louis County, Minnesota, United States. The population was 3,460 at the 2010 census. It is located on the Vermilion Iron Range, and is historically home to several iron ore mines.

Today the city of Ely is best known as a popular entry point for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness; the International Wolf Center, and the North American Bear Center.

The main street of Ely is lined with outfitters, outdoor clothing stores, and restaurants. State Highway 1 (MN 1), State Highway 169 (MN 169) and County Road 21 (Central Avenue) are the main routes in Ely.

History

The first Europeans to explore the area were fur traders who made their way into the wilderness in search of furs. But it was the Lake Vermillion gold rush that brought the first large numbers of pioneers to the area in 1865. Although hardly any gold was ever found, it was discovered that the area did contain large deposits of iron ore. Thousands of new immigrants were arriving in America at that time, and many of them came to the area later to be known as the Minnesota Iron Range, looking for work. When the Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range Railway laid tracks extending the rails from Tower to Ely in 1888, Ely began mining operations with the opening of the Chandler Mine, shipping the ore to docks on Lake Superior in Two Harbors and Duluth. That year the miners incorporated the town of Florence, population 177, near the east side of Shagawa Lake on a site now known as Spaulding. The miners named their settlement Florence after the daughter of the Chandler mine’s Captain Jack Pengilly (also the town’s first mayor). But the community moved after ore was discovered farther west, and it changed its name as well. Since it was discovered that the name “Florence” was already used by another village in Minnesota, "Ely” was chosen in honor of mining executive Samuel B. Ely, a big promoter of Vermilion Range ore who lived in Michigan (and never actually visited the town that bears his name).

The original town site consisted of forty acres. The first grocery store was opened in a small log building by a man named McCormick. A. J. Fenske built the first frame building in the fall of 1887; he also opened a hardware and furniture store. The Pioneer hotel was also built that year at the corner of Sheridan Street and Fourth Avenue. The first school was opened in 1889 in a small frame building on Second Avenue; the school attendance was 112 during the first season. According to a history written in 1910, "The first religious service was conducted by Father Buh, who came from Tower for that purpose, and the Catholic congregation erected the first church. The first Protestant minister was Rev. Mr. Freeman, who arrived in time to hold an Easter service in 1889, and located here permanently, organizing the Presbyterian church. There are now six churches, representing as many different faiths. The first white child born in the place was Samuel Ely Polkinghorn."

Soon other mines were opened in Ely: The Pioneer Mine(1889), the Zenith (1892), the Savoy (1899), and the Sibley (1899). The Pioneer was by far the most productive, producing 41 million tons or 40 percent of the Vermilion Range’s entire output. Eventually eleven mines opened near Ely. In 1967, the Pioneer mine closed. It is on the National Register of Historic Places and now hosts the Ely Arts & Heritage Center.

Originally the mining was an open pit operation, but when the abundant ore was mined out deep shafts were made to start mining underground. With the need for wooden support beams to keep the tunnels from collapsing, along with the need for lumber to meet the needs of the ever-expanding growth in the area, the logging and milling industry grew. Logging continues in the region, though on a limited scale and only for paper pulp—the major operations virtually disappeared by 1920 when the area’s tree reserves were depleted.

Community

Ely is served by two community–oriented newspapers, the Ely Echo and the North Country Angler, and a radio station WELY. Ely is host to many community events located in Whiteside Park such as the Blueberry Arts Festival in July, the Harvest Moon Festival in September, and the Winter Festival in February. There is also an Ely-only artist gallery, Art & Soul Gallery.

In May 2012, Ely was threatened by a fast-moving wildfire started by a downed power line on Highway 1. Due to the rapid fire fighting response, including the use of airtankers, the fire was limited to 216 acres (0.338 sq mi; 87 ha) just outside town.

The post office In Ely contains two tempera on plaster murals, Iron-Ore Mines and Wildernesss, painted by Elsa Jemne in 1941. Federally commissioned murals were produced from 1934 to 1943 in the United States through the Section of Painting and Sculpture, later called the Section of Fine Arts, of the Treasury Department.

Geography and climate

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.74 square miles (7.10 km2); 2.73 square miles (7.07 km2) is land and 0.01 square miles (0.03 km2) is water.

Ely is located 100 miles (160 km) north of Duluth, 117 miles southeast of International Falls, and 244 miles (393 km) north of Minneapolis – Saint Paul.

On the Köppen climate classification, Ely falls in the warm summer humid continental climate zone (Dfb).

Climate data for Ely, Minnesota
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 49
(9)
56
(13)
66
(19)
86
(30)
94
(34)
100
(38)
96
(36)
97
(36)
97
(36)
85
(29)
70
(21)
54
(12)
100
(38)
Average high °F (°C) 14
(−10)
23
(−5)
35
(2)
49
(9)
65
(18)
73
(23)
78
(26)
75
(24)
64
(18)
50
(10)
32
(0)
19
(−7)
48.1
(9)
Average low °F (°C) −9
(−23)
−2
(−19)
10
(−12)
26
(−3)
41
(5)
51
(11)
56
(13)
54
(12)
44
(7)
33
(1)
17
(−8)
4
(−16)
27.1
(−2.7)
Record low °F (°C) −44
(−42)
−45
(−43)
−42
(−41)
−11
(−24)
15
(−9)
28
(−2)
39
(4)
34
(1)
24
(−4)
7
(−14)
−24
(−31)
−40
(−40)
−45
(−43)
Average precipitation inches (mm) 1.06
(26.9)
0.76
(19.3)
1.24
(31.5)
1.58
(40.1)
2.87
(72.9)
4.19
(106.4)
3.72
(94.5)
2.84
(72.1)
3.63
(92.2)
2.40
(61)
1.66
(42.2)
0.99
(25.1)
26.94
(684.2)
Source: The Weather Channel



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