The activities of the Ely Chamber of Commerce actually began with the formation of the Business Men's Association in 1908. Concerns at that time centered around retail trade, industrial development, taxes, roads, and public health. A standing tourist committee was appointed in 1911 and the Ely Commercial Club developed in 1916. The Chamber of Commerce's present constitution and bylaws were adopted in 1959.
The Chamber of Commerce operates the Visitor Center in a historic log building originally located on Basswood Lake. It served as a bunkhouse for the men of the Wilderness Research Foundation (founded by Frank B. Hubachek) as an experimental station for the study of forest vegetation. It was built in 1938 by a crew of skilled Finnish lumberjacks who shaped and painstakingly fitted the logs with their axes. The fact that these hand-hewn logs and the structure have remained in such perfect condition is mute testimony to their craftsmanship.
When this part of the Northwoods was legislated into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW), all commercial establishments within its boundaries were required to be removed. Frank B. Hubachek, a Chicago attorney and long-time friend of Ely, desired that the building be used to benefit the community and donated the log building to the Ely Chamber of Commerce to carry out its routine work as well as operate a Visitor Center. The building was dismantled log-by-log and moved over the ice and eventually was reconstructed at its current site.
We welcome thousands of visitors every year and are proud to share the history of the building and help them with information to make their stay in Ely a memorable one.
Ely is a city of unique shops, amazing attractions, friendly services, delicious flavors and talented artisans surrounded by parks, resorts and canoe outfitters - all connected to an unchanged wilderness. Go to www.ely.org and plan your visit to the coolest small town at the end of the road.