Home on the Range

Where are you from? An innocent enough question, and for many an easy answer. Perhaps they spent their whole life in Ely, only leaving for a few years for college. When I was in the Army and asked, my answer was Minnesota. That pretty well covered it when meeting people from all over the U.S. Maybe adding the detail of “grew up in Northern Minnesota” if they were at all familiar.
Born at Ely Bloomenson Hospital, raised in Ely, graduated from Ely Memorial High School… but graduation was 20 years ago. Living in Murphy City, between Finland and Isabella now, but there are way more than 50 miles between Ely and here, and memories too numerous to count.
Central Minnesota, a few months in South Carolina for basic training. Back to Minnesota, out to Montana, then California and Oregon, only to return to Montana. Then, probably the biggest shock to all who know me, I return with my growing family to Minnesota.


From the miscellaneous drawer - Clear Blue Sea

Preliminary design for FRED - Floating Robot for Eliminating Debris


NEW COLUMN: East of Ely - An ode to the boat and canoe launches of the BWCA

by Dave Krikorian -


Home on the Range



Fish sticks

What is going on? Every time I turn on the news there’s another disaster—a hurricane, an earthquake, a senate vote. There’s only one thing to do: Stop turning on the news.
I’m joking! As citizens, it behooves us to stay informed. It’s the responsible thing to do. Besides, if we bury our heads in the sand, we leave our backsides vulnerable.
When there’s chaos all around, I feel it’s my duty as a professional columnist to be the voice of reason. So let me take this opportunity to utter a few well-chosen words of wisdom: Help! Somebody, do something!
Kidding again! Because of course, I am somebody and so are you. So as usual, it’s up to us. Somehow we must muddle through together. And naturally, that brings me to the subject of fish sticks.


Hook and Bullet Club by Nick Wognum - Moose mama

Trail cameras can provide a look at the woods most people may never see. That includes me. Throughout the fall I try to spend nearly every weekend in the woods, usually out at our hunting shack. But I miss more than I see.
Over the years I’ve been able to acquire some trail cameras that can be strapped to a tree and take pictures when movement is sensed. Not that many years ago the cameras used film but today it’s all digital. I don’t have any cameras that can take pictures and send them to my cell phone but last year I added one that can capture video and sound.
The camera I put out furthest from the shack is the toughest to get to. After a very bumpy ride, there’s a rough trail down to a beaver dam and then along a dam to one of the few trees still standing.
Since it’s tough to get to, that camera doesn’t get checked too often. As long as the batteries are good, it will continue to take pictures.


From the miscellaneous drawer -Newbies

We were newbies to Ely. It was the mid-1940s and the war had ended.
We headed north from the Chicago area to pick up my sister who was working for the summer at the YMCA camp on Burntside Lake.
Gas rationing had been lifted and we drove up two lane roads behind military convoys through Wisconsin to Ely.
Ely itself was bustling with logging trucks, trains loaded with iron ore, bars and stores lined the streets and people bustled everywhere.
Dad started to build our cabin on Cedar Lake in the mid-1950s and I came up to help finish the stone fireplace that dominated the living room. Needing some supplies, he asked me to go to the hardware store on Chapman Street.
Where’s that, I asked having only been acquainted with Sheridan, the main drag through town.
He set me straight about the bank, gas station, department store and other businesses also available on Chapman.


From the miscellaneous drawer - Looking back on 40 years

Looking back 40 years places me in recall of the dramatic change which was about to occur in my life in 1977.
Still in the early stages, the Echo staff was considering the purchase of the Ely Echo from Miles Aakhus. When the purchase didn’t work out as a group effort, it was me alone taking the economic plunge.
The Ely area was in a state of flux. There was a lengthy strike on at Reserve Mining in Babbitt where several hundred Elyites worked and the city which had been buzzing along was beginning to show signs of change.
Gibson’s (on Chapman Street) was changing its name to Pamida. The Echo issue of 8/31/1977 held two full pages of store items. Bobby John’s ran a half page ad for the college bound woman. Martinetto Drug had a half page ad for vitamins. JCPenney had a half page ad for its store on Chapman Street. Lampert Building Center had a half page ad on bathrooms.


Hook and Bullet Club by Nick Wognum - Summer is over

And then summer was over.
This is Labor Day weekend, the official end of summer fun. If you’re like me, the best is yet to come. Bring on fall!
Our summer drew to a close with a flurry of activity. We transported our youngest, Evan, to college two weekends ago.
We packed two vehicles to the hilt with enough stuff to fill a dorm room and made the trek to Bemidji State University.
Hiding in the parking lot when we got there was our oldest, Jacob. Remembering how many times Evan helped him move, Jake drove over from Moorhead and surprised Evan. Freshman nerves were replaced by a big smile.
The vehicles were emptied and Evan’s half of the dorm room filled up quickly. It was a good thing he lofted his bed to give him some extra room. Dorm rooms haven’t gotten any bigger since I was in Griggs Hall at UMD 32 years ago.
We took in a student-parent orientation program at the football stadium and even met Faith Hensrud, the president of BSU.


He's not in the photo, Steve writes

In a note from Steve Kapsch I found out that at least one of the men identified in the Sandemar photo and article last week was wrong. Here’s what Steve wrote:
“I enjoyed your piece on Sandemar, which was, indeed, a gathering place for Elyites, including my dad and my uncle Matty and Swanson’s often illustrious guests. Swanson’s name came up so often in household conversation when I was a kid that he was something of a “mythical character” because it was like I knew him well, but I didn’t know him at all and never met him.
Anyway, uncle Matty was there at Sandemar often but he’s not in the photo.
The man whispering to Johnnie Bucca isn’t Matty but I don’t know who he is. (Johnnie looks like he’s either getting ready for Roaring Stony Days, or RSD is over and he’s decided he likes the look!).


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