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Northern Research Station
11 Campus Blvd., Suite 200
Newtown Square, PA 19073
(610) 557-4017
(610) 557-4132 TTY/TDD

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Halfway Ranger Station

The Halfway Ranger Station, which is located on the Kawishiwi Experimental Forest near Ely, Minn., had a long and storied history, first with the Superior National Forest and then as a site of Forest Service research. However, the 105-year-old site has not been used for Forest Service research for more than 20 years and there is not a current research need for the complex. Until 2012, other research organizations had used the buildings periodically, however the condition of the buildings deteriorated too much for them to continue using the Halfway Ranger Station and the NRS cannot justify the expense of rehabilitating them or supporting operating costs.

In 2010, the Northern Research Station (NRS) released an Environmental Assessment (EA) that analyzed six alternatives for disposition of the buildings at the site.  The proposed action identified at that time was demolition after architectural documentation.  The EA drew strong negative responses from residents of the Ely area as well as the Minnesota State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) due to the structures’ historic significance and popularity as a familiar feature of the forest landscape.

In response to the negative responses to demolition, Station Director Michael T. Rains instructed NRS Engineering to explore other opportunities.  The only viable opportunity that emerged was an adaptive re-use plan from a non-governmental organization called the Northern Bedrock Historic Preservation Corps (Northern Bedrock).

To facilitate the adaptive re-use of the site by Northern Bedrock, the NRS formally nominated the site for listing on the National Register of Historic Places as a historic district.  The period of historic significance for the site is from 1931-1961.  At that time the site was referred to as the Halfway Ranger Station (HRS), this is the name by which it is now referred and listed.  Listing occurred in November 2011.

Current Activities

The revised Environmental Assessment is complete and available for public review. Two open house events are scheduled on Tuesday, May 12, to give citizens an opportunity to discuss the EA with Forest Service planning staff and Northern Research Station staff. The first meeting is scheduled from 2-4 p.m., a second meeting is planned for 6-8 p.m. Both meetings will be held at the Grand Ely Lodge, located at 400 N Pioneer Road Ely.

Paper copies of the EA are available at the Ely Library, the Duluth Library, and the Babbitt Library. Limited numbers of paper or digital copies are also available upon request, contact John Slown, Project Planner at 406-329-3749 or email at

Next Steps

Once the EA is complete, the Northern Research Station will execute an agreement with Northern Bedrock, and the organization will begin preliminary rehabilitation efforts.

Last Modified: 05/07/2015