Aug 20 2009
I think my fascination with lighthouses comes from the fact that there are no lighthouses in North Dakota. Wide open spaces, yes. Flat expanses of land, check. Beautiful land formations in the Badlands, naturally. Even some really big lakes, Devils Lake natural, Sakakawea formed by a dam. But lighthouses? None that I’m aware of.
I remember seeing lighthouses on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula when we vacationed at Mackinac Island, and in Maine on our honeymoon, and I thought them to be beautiful.
It took many years, however, before I made the journey to what is perhaps Minnesota’s best-known lighthouse: Split Rock Lighthouse.
A hour northeast of Duluth, Minnesota, Split Rock Lighthouse looks over Lake Superior. Constructed at a cost of $75,000, the lighthouse was built in response to shipwrecks on Lake Superior. It was in operation from 1910-1969 and sits atop a 130-foot cliff.
Today, the lighthouse itself is open from May 15 to October 15, and visitors can climb the spiral staircase to see the lens, and then see the adjacent fog signal building, oil house, and lighthouse keeper’s house. The visitor center and gift shop are open year-round.
After seeing the lighthouse, we descended to the lakefront via the stairs. When we returned to the visitor center, we opted for the more winding but less steep footpath. From the lakefront, we had beautiful views of the lighthouse, while from the lighthouse we could see the beauty of Lake Superior.
My kids loved Split Rock Lighthouse as much as I did, and they were happy to add it to the list of Minnesota Historical Society Sites that we’ve visited.
There’s still time to visit the lighthouse before it closes for the season; even if you don’t make it before school starts, it’s breathtaking in the fall colors. The Split Rock Lighthouse blog provides additional information about the lighthouse.