History of Beaver Bay

Jessie C. Davis, in her book titled “Beaver Bay, Original North Shore Village”, begins as follows:

“During the more than 100 years of the settlement at Minnesota’s Beaver River on Lake Superior’s North Shore, thousands of people have passed by and many of them have stopped. The earliest came on the waters of the Lake by canoe, rowboat, sailing vessel and steamer long before there were roads to this remote village. Many among them must have wondered for what reason other than the scenic beauty of the place this particular spot had been selected for a community. The choice was practically unlimited in the area which had only recently been acquired by the United States government from the Chippewa, or Ojibway, Indians before the first settlers arrived. Where did these early residents come from, how did they earn a living, and what had transpired during the years at Beaver Bay?”

Ed Maki, Jr., current President of the Bay Area Historical Society, and a past resident of Beaver Bay has assembled a timeline of Beaver Bay’s history that answers some of these questions. It is presented below:

A Timeline of Beaver Bay History:

1854, September 30 – The Treaty of LaPointe opens the Minnesota Arrowhead Region for settlement and mineral exploration.
1854, October – Surveyor, Thomas Clark, along with Robert McLean set up camp at the mouth of the Beaver River. McLean later becomes postmaster.
1856, June 24 – Thomas Clark files a plat for the settlement of Beaver Bay in St Louis County.
1856, June 24 – The steamer Illinois brings first settlers to Beaver Bay.
1858 – President James Buchanan signs act admitting Minnesota to the Union.
1858 – Beaver Bay’s first Indian settlers establish summer residences on the east bank of the Beaver River including the family of John Beargrease.
1859 – School organized in Beaver Bay with Christian Wieland as superintendent and Jennie Clark as first teacher.
1865, August 25 – Combined St Louis and Lake County school districts separate.
1865 – Minnesota State Geologist, Henry Eames, lands at Beaver Bay and is guided by Christian Wieland to the Lake Vermillion area to look for gold.
1866, May 10 – Minnesota Governor appoints Christian and Ernest Wieland as County Commissioners and Beaver Bay is named as Lake County’s seat.
1870 – Peter Mitchell, a prospector and shareholder in the Ontanagon, Michigan Mining Syndicate lands at Beaver Bay and is guided to the Lake Vermillion area to look for iron ore.
1877 – School house at Beaver Bay destroyed by fire. Value set at $300.00.
1879 – John Beargrease begins a 20 year career as a mail carrier between Two Harbors and Grand Marais.
1880, May 9 – Christian Wieland dies, buried at Beaver Bay.
1881, May 10 – Wieland schooner Charley lost in a storm at Beaver Bay.
1883 – The Wielands sell their holdings in Beaver Bay to the Gibbs and Mallet Company.
1885 – Last of the remaining Wieland brothers, August, moves his family to Duluth.
1886 – County seat moved from Beaver Bay to Two Harbors.
1900 – Beaver Bay residents in a poll voted 17-0 against the sale of malt liquors.
1910, August 1 – Split Rock Lighthouse is commissioned.
1910, August 10 – John Beargrease dies and is buried in Beaver Bay.
1920 – Minneapolis businessmen establish a club on Beaver Bay’s point.
1923 – Mary MacDonald opens the Beaver Bay Lodge for tourists travelling the new Highway 61.
1928 – Lake County School District #381 is organized and the Beaver Bay school is built.
1930 – Bus service for high school students begins between Beaver Bay and Two Harbors.
1932 – Lake County Historical Society erects a marker at the Chippewa Cemetery where John Beargrease is buried.
1947, December 18 – Taconite plant at Beaver Bay is approved by state water pollution control commission.
1951, September 27 – Reserve Mining Co. lets contracts for building a taconite plant and housing for employees. It is known as the Beaver Bay Housing Project.
1953, August 5 – Beaver Bay by a vote of 27-20 incorporates as a village.
1953, September 15 – Art Lorntson elected as first mayor of Beaver Bay.
1953 – Beaver Bay Liquor Store opens in the new Beaver Bay Shopping Center.
1953, September 30 – Beaver Bay’s telephone switch board closes as the phone system is converted to direct dial.
1953 – The new Beaver Bay School (Campton Elementary School) is under construction. The $750,000 school is paid by Reserve Mining Company.
1954, May 1 – New town of Silver Bay is officially named by the US Postal Service.
1954 – Beaver Bay School closes for good at the end of the school year.
1955 – Beaver Bay School used for church services.
1955 – Beaver Bay Municipal Liquor Store opens in Beaver Bay School with city office in the basement. Profits to go toward municipal water.
1958 – Beaver Bay Fire Department organizes.
1958 – Fire department has its first annual smelt fry at the Green Door. Profit is $354.78.
1959, August 10 – Beaver Bay Fire Department receives permission from the Beaver Bay Club to erect a firehall on property they own.
1962 – Basement of the Green Door is remodeled, and the kitchen is enlarged.
1964 – The Green Door is robbed of $5,800.00.
1969 – A bear at Herbie Clough’s gets a feeding pail stuck on his head. Clough is mauled as she tries, along with Roy Hangartner, to remove the pail.
1974 – Beaver Bay incorporates as a city.
1986 – Beaver Bay and Silver Bay celebrate 130 and 30 year anniversaries as Reserve announces it is closing.
1995 – Cove Point Lodge opens in Beaver Bay.
1999, January 18 – Construction begins on the new $800,000 Community Center where the Beaver Bay Lodge once stood.
2000 – 14,000 tons of waste rock and slurry from North Shore Mining Company flows into the Beaver River and to Lake Superior from a rupture in the pipeline.
2003 – Beaver Bay celebrates 50 years of incorporation with a parade, street dance and rides on the Grampa Woo.
2003 – Cove Point Crossings opens in Beaver Bay.
2005 – A cornerstone was laid at the Beaver Bay Community Center by the Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of Minnesota.
2014 – Groundbreaking for the Beaver Bay rest stop.
2016 – Beaver Bay hosts its first Rhythm and Roots Festival organized by the Beaver Bay Community Association.
2018 – Gitchee Gami Bike Trail section between Beaver Bay and Silver Bay dedicated.