Staycations Part 1: The Iron Range
Soudan Underground Mine, Dorothy Molter Museum, The Boathouse
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If you journey to the Iron Range and points north of it, you’ll find areas rich in culture, and full of nature’s finest.
“The history and the culture of this area is so significant because it was a melting pot of America,” said Dawn Voges, Assistant Manager at the Soudan Underground Mine.
“It’s a place where you can have the potential to see some wildlife,” said Sarah Guy-Levar, Executive Director at The Dorothy Molter Museum.
For families looking for an active and educational vacation, it may just be the perfect place to visit.
“I know that many people are concerned with the amount of time that children spend in front of screens,” expressed Guy-Levar.
Let’s start a half mile underground, and a century back in time.
“This is the birth place of iron mining in Minnesota,” explained Voges. “It’s 1924 at its best,”
Soudan is home to the only underground mine in the entire state.
“Once you arrive at level 27, it’s a nice 51 degrees,” Voges described.
The tour starts with a three-minute journey down a shaft, followed by a train ride ¾ of a mile back into the last working area of the historic mine.
“In the hay day, they were mining for iron ore,” Voges said.
Guides walk you through the daily journey of the miners, and you can see for yourself the cold, dark conditions they had to work in.
“It’s something that everyone should learn about because of the culture and the history behind of the mine, and how it transformed America,” stated Voges.
It’s an adventure anyone can go on, but a trek few can brag about actually doing.
“Whether you’re a 3-month-old, on up to your 80s and 90s,” Voges said. “It’s something that not everyone can say they’ve done.”
About 20 miles up the road in Ely, Minnesota, another cultural gem awaits.
“At The Dorothy Molter Museum, you’ll always receive a warm welcome and a nice cold root beer,” laughed Guy-Levar. “We can touch on the history of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.”
The museum grounds consist of 2.5 cabins, filled with the personal belongings of Dorothy Molter.
“She was the last legal non–indigenous resident of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area,” explained Guy-Levar.
Dorothy’s story is a lesson in history.
“In 1964, the federal government passed The Wilderness Act, and the definition of wilderness really did not include somebody inhabiting it,” Guy-Levar said.
These tours are also designed for all ages. For adults, it may be a walk down memory lane.
“It brings back a lot of nostalgia for people who have fond memories of going up to the lake,” Guy-Levar said.
For kids, it’s a chance to put down the electronics.
“Kids get hands–on experiences with picking–up pine cones, learning about pine trees,” said Guy-Levar.
And taking a break for a meal at The Boathouse is the perfect chance to relax with home–brewed beers.
“Blueberry blonde is our best seller by far, it’s just a light, mellow beer with just a crisp sweetness and a little hint of blueberry at the finish,” said Joseph Tome, General Manager of The Boathouse.
And refuel with larger–than–average portions.
“You’re going to get things on this menu that you can’t find elsewhere around town,” Tome explained.
The most popular dish…
“On a regular day basis, our walleye sandwich,” Tome said.
But on Friday nights…
“We do all–you–can–eat walleye fish fry,” he added.
Sticking true to The Boathouse motto.
“We have really good beer, you might as well have really good food to go with it,” laughed Tome.
A winning combination for those looking for a true staycation adventure.