Ely, Minnesota Adventurers

They visited, then they came back! The Ely area has many talented artists, writers, photographers, and adventurers who have adopted Ely as their home – or at least – home away from home.

  • In 1997 Ely lost a real friend with the untimely death of Charles Kuralt. Having spent most of his adult life in New York City, he became a staunch supporter of our community – so much so that he purchased our local radio station in 1995. He mentioned Ely repeatedly in various publications and visited here whenever time allowed.
  • World famous wildlife and outdoor photographer Jim Brandenburg is best known for his book on wolves and for his work for National geographic. His most recent project was a 90 day journal “Chased by the Light” which he shot a single exposure each day between the autumnal equinox and the winter solstice. Most of the shots were taken in the Ely area, where Brandenburg has made his home since 1981.
  • Speaking of National Geographic, Ely residents Will Steger and Paul Schurke were featured on a cover after their amazing 57-day journey to the North Pole in 1986. They also teamed up for an award-winning television special and co-wrote a best-selling book about their trip, North to the Pole!
  • Local legend Bob Cary might have been born near Chicago, but he epitomizes the spirit that lives in Ely today. Author, artist, photographer, wilderness guide and ski racer, Bob helped put Ely on the map when he ran for president a few years back – as a representative of the Independent Fishing party.
  • Sigurd Olson fell in love with Ely as a young man. He came here to teach in 1923 and remained in Ely until his death in 1982. During those years he worked as a guide and outfitter, became dean of Ely Junior College (now Vermilion Community College), authored dozens of books about his wilderness experience in the BWACW and surrounding areas, and became a nationally known environmentalist.
  • Dorothy Molter, the last resident of the BWCAW, became legendary as “the Root Beer Lady of Knife Lake.” A young Chicago nurse in 1930, she opted for a life on the wilderness island called “Isle of Pines.” Also known as the “Nightingale of the Wilderness,” Dorothy administered to many visitors who were in the BWCAW and in need of her nursing skills. Until her death in 1986, as many as 6,000 visitors from all over the world would stop by the Isle of Pines where Dorothy would make as many as 11,000 – 12,000 bottles of root beer per year.
  • Wildlife Biologist Dr. Lynn Rogers has done what no human has done before by living with bears at close range for almost 30 years. He has penetrated the barriers that separate humans from bears and redefined this misunderstood animal. Dr. Rogers has been featured internationally for his black bear research and photography.

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