Over at Vermilion Community College, the Ely-Winton History Museum (1900 Camp St. E., 218/365-3226, www.vcc.edu/ewhs , 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Mon.–Fri. year-round., $3 adults) has a small but well-presented local history collection. Exhibits cover mining, logging, Native American history, the women of Ely , and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness .
A few other historic sites will be of interest to some. The Pioneer Mine Headframe sits on the north edge of what was then an open pit iron mine, but is now Miner’s Lake. It may be opened for tours in the future.
On the northeast side of town, near the junction of 13th Avenue East and Main Street, is a hunk of exposed volcanic Ely Greenstone. It can be found by following Trezona Trail (3 blocks north of Sheridan St.). Known as Pillow Rock, the undulating lava solidified underwater and really does look soft.
There is history of a different sort at the Ely Steam Bath (127 S. 1st Ave. E., 218/365-2984, 4–10 p.m. Wed., Fri., and Sat., $6/day public, $8/hour private). Miners, loggers, and, more recently, paddlers have been coming for a good sweat at the Finnish-style sauna since 1915. Remember, the top bench is for experts only.
To see some historic sites beyond town, reserve a seat with Burntside Heritage Tours (2755 Burntside Lodge Rd., 218/365-5445, www.burntsidetours.com , $30). The two-hour pontoon tours of Burntside Lake cover geological and historical sites, including Sigurd Olson’s Listening Point.