Before restrictions on motors in the BWCAW, land-based motorized vehicles made their way into some remote places.
For example, this old International Harvester bus transported passengers across the Four Mile Portage between Fall Lake and Hoist Bay on Basswood Lake. The passengers would be either starting a canoe trip or going to one of the Basswood resorts.
This bus now sits in the woods near Bear Island River Road outside of Ely, rusting and entombed in a grove of saplings. The below photo shows the driver’s side by the back fender. Although it is painted over, you can make out the service being marketed: Canoe Trips.
Today, paddlers can still obtain motorboat tows on Basswood Lake, but motorized land transport is no longer allowed over the Four Mile Portage. Instead of a road for buses, the Four Mile Portage today is overgrown (yet walkable) and partially flooded.