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There are several galleries of lesser-known artists, and the second floor of Northern Grounds features the paintings and sketches of Jackpine Bob Cary, the colorful former Chicago newspaperman who moved to Ely and made waves as editor of the Ely Echo.
The common way to get to Ely from the Twin Cities is to take Interstate Hwy. 35 to Cloquet and then Hwys. 33, 53 and 169 to Ely. It's a 255-mile route more efficient than scenic, at least until the end.
Once there, you can get some good wilderness views by
car. The Fernberg Trail runs east of town, starting on Hwy. 169 and becoming a county blacktop in Lake County until it dead-ends at Lake One, the first in a series of numbered lakes. The Echo Trail is a 60-mile run through the wilderness toward Crane Lake and the town of Orr.
For the trip home, try taking Hwy. 1 east for about 25 miles to County Rd. 2, which runs south to Two Harbors and hits Hwy. 61, where you have a choice of a divided highway or the scenic two-lane along Lake Superior to Duluth.
After Hwy. 1, the trip will seem incredibly quick, because the road out of town is filled with curves and views and low, posted speeds. If you have an extra hour, the drive is worth the time.
-- Howard Sinker is at email@example.com.