Split Rock Lighthouse, Lake Superior's North Shore, Minnesota
The Minnesota side of Lake Superior’s North Shore is full of iconic places, but one of the best-known has to be Split Rock Lighthouse, part of Split Rock Lighthouse State Park.
The lighthouse, sitting atop a dramatic steep stone bluff overlooking the lake, was built after a terrible 1905 storm drove 18 ships into the cliffs, causing 78 deaths. It opened in 1910 and operated until 1969, when modern navigational equipment made the lighthouse unnecessary. Minnesota acquired it and turned it over to the state historical society in 1976, which restored it to its 1920s appearance. In 2011, it was designated a National Historic Landmark. Today thousands of people visit the lighthouse, taking in the views from the upper deck, and many clamber down the steep staircase to the rocky beach for a different view.
During its operation, the lighthouse was successful in reducing the number of shipwrecks in that area. However, there was one wreck of note: the Edmund Fitzgerald in 1975, which did not sink in the Minnesota part of Lake Superior, but is commemorated as representative of all ships lost in the lakes. Each year on the anniversary of the Edmund Fitzgerald’s sinking, Nov. 10, the lighthouse brings its mighty beacon back to light in remembrance.
Amy Rea is a Minnesota-born-and-bred writer who grew up in the northern part of the state, then spent most of her adult life in the Twin Cities. She's the author of three guidebooks to Minnesota, and she blogs about Minnesota travel at wcco.com/wandermn and writes about Minnesota food at heavytable.com. She lives in a quiet suburb with her husband and their elderly, neurotic border collie, and lives for the times when her 20-somethings sons come to visit so she can cook for them. Her books: Minnesota, Land of 10,000 Lakes: an Explorer's Guide, Backroads & Byways of Minnesota, and Camping Minnesota
All photos courtesy and copyright Amy Rea