“Singing Waters” Chapter 9 – Martin Falls

July 24, 2006 N 51 31.837’, W 86 31.099’ Elevation 621 feet

“It’s after 11:00 and I’m just getting to bed. It wasn’t really a long travel day, but fishing kept us from moving very fast. Stormed last night and we had our closest call on the trip. The wind blew a dead tree into the crotch of another just above our tent. Could have been nasty.” Ken Hupila – trip diary


Hook and Bullet Club

Who knew a dead sled rescue could turn into a party on Mud Creek Road?
Mary and I showed up with a trailer to help out a friend who’s sled broke down on the way to Lake Vermilion.
The Igloo Club grooms the trail between Burntside and Vermilion but early in the season it can be a bit bumpy. As we were chatting Bill Hane showed up with the Igloo Club’s Bearcat snowmobile and a drag to try to smooth out the bumps.
Bill is an expert at this and has often filled in on that trail early in the season when the BR-160 tractor can’t be used yet. Bill turned off the Arctic Cat and got caught up on how a suspension bolt broke and put an end to a day of riding.
He didn’t stay long, firing up the machine and crossing Mud Creek Road. Just past there is a spot where the water flows this time of year, making the trail much narrower until it can be froze down.
With Bill on his way, and the dead sled on the trailer we packed up and headed for town.


From the miscellaneous drawer

It seems that winter and snow in Ely lasts forever, but in the past there was a lot of competition, not only for athletes to compete. But also for volunteers to maintain safety.
Ely’s All American Sled Dog Race used to start on Miners Drive where the Veterans Memorial is now. The race crossed Shagawa, Fall and Cedar lakes before heading north.
With all those miles, it required over 100 volunteers. Newspaper cameras would freeze while announcer Duane Krause identified the racers.
Up the trail, Mary Catherine Brown kept her group ready.
The need for volunteers and safety included the annual ski jumping tournament. Bill Mills said about 50 people should help at the Hidden Valley structure.
Growing up on a farm near Starbuck, MN, my dad was in the class of 1915. The family farm was one mile south of the ski hill.


From the miscellaneous drawer

A new beginning.
Not just for me, for all of us. It’s a time to reconsider our lives.
In old age, I might be beyond change.
But what could you do at age 10, reach out to new neighbors, start a safety class for bicyclists? I did.
Children don’t have to be silent and passive. Encourage them to consider a bigger, bolder future.
What can you do at age 20?
Get involved with the political scene - run for office or volunteer to be part of a committee.
You are not too young or old for getting better acquainted with laws that affects all people.
Or maybe your interest is elsewhere- a park or parade, arts or history.
Travel is another option and it can be done alone and chosen on the spot. I did.
What about age 30?
Get a job you like, plan ahead for your company’s and personal future.
Be open to new things, new challenges.
What can you do at age 40?


Hook and Bullet Club

Having two short weeks at the Echo is not a lot of fun. We had to have our products sent to Duluth for printing a day earlier due to Christmas and New Year’s holidays.
But getting back to back three day weekends was worth it in the end. Over Christmas we had Jacob and Kyah and granddaughter Kinlee home, the best present anyone could ask for.
Kinlee kept us all entertained especially helping Megan hand out gifts on Christmas morning. She can read names and was always a bit more excited when she saw her name written on a present.
She likes puzzles and books and spent a lot of time with an old train set Mary had dug out of storage in the basement.
This was just a plastic track with train cars that connected together along with a tunnel to drive through. Dad Jacob put his engineering skills to work with various track layouts that would test Kinlee’s driving skills as she pushed the train around the track.


From the miscellaneous drawer

When the political season is being evaluated, I hope limits will be set. Both sides are begging for money at a time when financial concerns are elsewhere. A limit for donors will stop any candidate from being sold or stopped by money.
And thinking of money concerns - when did television stop giving free access to users?
There are two things I remember as a teenager heading to high school.
One is slacks or blue jeans. Girls supposedly wore skirts or dresses. My dad took a dim view of my challenging the fashion trend.
The other no no was television at home.
We had a radio to listen to, but dad was reluctant for many years to get a television.
I watched it across the alley at a family’s house which had this extravagance.
Sometimes I think I enjoy being a TV watcher, because I saw so little of it in younger years. Or maybe I’m just enjoying being lazy.


Hook and Bullet Club

We never know when it will be the last trip out to the shack by truck due to snow. With the muzzleloader season over, Evan and I went out last weekend to take down deer stands and cameras.
Evan and Nella’s black lab Hank was in the back seat of the truck. Well, he was half in the back and half in the front. I’m not sure he knew where we were going but he sure was excited to be along for the ride.
There really wasn’t much snow so driving in was easy. We pulled the side-by-side on a trailer and unloaded at the top of the hill by the shack.
We went inside to grab a pack and then hopped in the side-by-side with Hank in the middle. At each stop along the way Hank would hop out and zoom through the woods, sniffing out all the smells. Deer, wolf, beaver, snowshoe hare and more had him running steady.


From the miscellaneous drawer

I was in the office one morning recently, picking up my mail and adding some old photos of Ely’s olden days to the Echo’s collection. And I became more aware of the Echo team.
They have good leadership in Nick Wognum, now listed as General Manager, but there’s no doubt that his crew plays an important part in keeping things running smoothly.
Lisa, the ad designer, helps customers in many ways as she has for over 20 years.
And for some time since we have enlarged our print section and camera output, Cameron has been front and center to answer customers’ needs.
He also takes care of getting the Echos after they are printed in Duluth, and has had some help recently from Evan Wognum, Nick’s youngest on the road.
Tom does a great job of seeming to be everywhere. And the Echo also has the talents of Pam Roberts and all the columnists, and readers who share photos and letters with the Echo. And Brad is back to help with store sales.


From the miscellaneous drawer

I’m a collector of old telephone books and I recently set out to see what secrets the 1979 phone book held. Since it was just a few years prior to that I had purchased the Echo and things (businesses) were already changing.
There were 16 canoe outfitters listed in the ’79 Ely area at the time and four bait suppliers.(21 outfitters in 1980) .
And since it was the height of the tourism boom there were 35 resorts in the 1979 Ely area and 16 in Tower. Perhaps as a prelude to the new retirement people arriving there were 14 Realtors that served the area (11 in 2018).
Ten restaurants served ’79 hungry diners.
Four bars or night clubs provided thirst quenchers. And six liquor stores provided take-home brews. Also in 1979 seven car dealers serviced the area. Five grocery stores and four hardware stores held forth.


From the miscellaneous drawer

Longtime readers of the Ely Echo know that I’m a fan of Anu Garg (words at
People from all over the world who want something helpful daily in their mailbox look for strange words or the quote of the day like the following:
If I can do no more, let my name stand among those who are willing to bear ridicule and reproach for the truth’s sake, and so earn some right to rejoice when the victory is won. -Louisa May Alcott, writer and reformist (29 Nov 1832-1888).
We have been lucky at the Echo since its beginning almost 50 years ago. Among the recognized writers and columnists besides Bob Cary were Sam Cook, Doug Smith, Jim Dale Vickery, Nick Wognum, Walt McElderry, David Krikorian, Pam Roberts, Trout Whisperer, Ken Hupila, Diana Mavetz Petrich and some who have been forgotten over time.


Subscribe to RSS - Columnists