Listening Point

Experience Listening Point through Sig's own words.

The short film above features the first chapter of Sigurd F. Olson’s book Listening Point, published in 1958, and is narrated by Douglas Wood. Produced in collaboration with Wolvenwood Studio in Ely, MN, the film features the stunning natural beauty and peace of Listening Point through artful cinematography and spectacular drone footage.

"Everyone has a listening-point somewhere." --Sigurd F. Olson

Listening Point, located on the south arm of Burntside Lake, was Sigurd and Elizabeth Olson’s retreat in the north woods of Minnesota. They initially purchased 26 acres, and eventually enlarged their property to about 36 acres. The property, less than ten miles from their home, included a small beach, a cove bordered with alder and willow, upland stands of second-growth birch and pine, and large boulders dropped into place during the retreat of the glaciers during the last ice age ten thousand years ago.

Most important, however, was the westward-facing point itself: glaciated greenstone rock fringed with weathered pines and partly covered with a patch of bearberry and juniper. Sitting on the end of Listening Point, Sigurd could look out over the wide-open spaces of Burntside Lake, listen to the birds, watch the sunset, and regain some balance in a life that had become more and more hectic at an age when many people were beginning to think about retirement.

Sigurd Olson created Listening Point in 1956 as a private retreat. It became widely known and celebrated after Alfred Knopf published Olson’s book, Listening Point in 1958.

The Listening Point property was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 2008.  (Read the article here.)

In 1998 the Listening Point Foundation was established to preserve Listening Point for current and future generations and is now headquartered in the Olson family home in Ely, Minnesota. The Foundation provides guided tours of Listening Point, the Olson home, and Sig’s Writing Shack for the general public, students, and organizational groups.

To learn more about how to visit us and schedule a tour, please contact us here.

About Sigurd F. Olson

A writer with a deep, lifelong passion for the importance of wilderness to the human spirit, and the desire to share it with the world.

Sigurd Olson (1899-1982) was a well-known environmentalist, award-winning conservation activist, and best-selling author. Though he lived in Ely, Minnesota and took numerous trips within the Quetico-Superior wilderness, he traveled widely and influenced the creation and preservation of natural areas across the country. Learn more about Sigurd Olson here.

About the Foundation

The Listening Point Foundation works to preserve Listening Point and promote the legacy of Sigurd F. Olson in the world today.

Founded in 1998 by Sig’s younger son, Robert K. Olson, the Listening Point Foundation continues to promote Sigurd F. Olson’s legacy. Located in Ely, MN, the Foundation headquarters in the Olson family homestead, and continues to preserve Sig’s Writing Shack and the Listening Point property, along with providing educational tours and opportunities to the community. Learn more about the Listening Point Foundation here.

Keep the legacy alive by donating

We are working hard to create a sustainable financial future for the Listening Point Foundation.

Your donation helps us keep the mission alive and the Foundation moving forward. You can also make a lasting impression by donating a brick to our patio engraved with a message of your choice. Learn more by clicking below!