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The Beauty of Lighthouses

Located about 20 miles north of Two Harbors, MN, I arrived at Split Rock Lighthouse on Minnesota’s North Shore just before sunrise on a crisp fall morning. At the time of my visit northern Minnesota was under an air quality alert due to the wildfires that were raging in Canada that year. I made my way down onto the rocks near Lake Superior’s edge to find myself greeted by two other fellow photographers. While setting up my tripod in the dark I needed to make sure that ONE I didn’t slip off of the rocks and go for an early morning swim in the 50° water and TWO that I was far enough back from the spray of the crashing waves. As the sun began to rise that morning the haze from the wildfires choked it out and left us an eerie orange glow to work with. It was an interesting experience that the fellow photographers and I chatted about for hours after we were done shooting that morning.


In November of 1905 twenty-nine ships were damaged by a single gale, two of which were on the rocky coastline known at the time as Stony Point. In 1907, Congress officially commissioned the building of the Split Rock Lighthouse, devoting $75,000 to bild the lighthouse. The building of Split Rock Lighthouse completed in 1910 with the facilities covering 7.6 acres. The Lighthouse was first lit on July 31, 1910. Serving the Lake Superior ships for almost 60 years, the Split Rock Lighthouse was decommissioned in 1969.

Other notable years...

1916: tramway built to get supplies to lighthouse

1924: Lake Superior International Highway completed past lighthouse, first tourists visited site

1934: tramway dismantled, truck to haul supplies was received by station

1940: electricity brought to station and well dug

1969: site is placed on the National Register of Historic Places

1971: station became part of Split Rock Lighthouse State Park

1980: historic site expanded from 7.6 acres to 25 acres

1986: visitor center opened

2011:received designation of National Historic Landmark

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