Have you ever driven northeast on Highway 61 between Two Harbors and Silver Bay and wondered about the history of the pilings that stick out of the water at the mouth of the Split Rock River? If so, you’re not alone (and you’re also in luck)!
The pilings at Split Rock River date back from the late 19th and early 20th century. This was when the Split Rock Lumber Company, a subsidiary of the Merrill and Ring Lumber Company, logged the area. The company logged Norway, red and white pine. The company built a railroad 10 miles long to carry the cut logs down to the river mouth. There they were dumped into the water from a trestle platform. The logs were sluiced from a dammed area at the river mouth into the lake, where they were rounded up into rafts and towed to a sawmill in Duluth. The pilings are remnants of the old wharf and dam that the company used from 1899 to 1906.
By 1906 the operation had cut 200,000,000 board feet of lumber, netting a highly successful profit. With most of the valuable timber gone, logging operations ceased and the town and railroad were dismantled the following year
Note: The hiking trail to the north of Highway 61 follows a section of where the rail line used to operate.
On Highway 61 around mile marker 43, look for the Split Rock River pullout/parking lot. The pilings can be found at the mouth of the river.