Split Rock Lighthouse is one of the most iconic buildings on Lake Superior’s North Shore. Now decommissioned, the lighthouse has been beautifully preserved and is a popular destination for visitors and locals alike. Read on to learn more about the history of the lighthouse.
Why A Lighthouse at Split Rock?
Starting on November 27, 1905, a massive storm, known as the Mataafa Storm, hit the Great Lakes region. The storm caused a total of 29 shipwrecks on Lake Superior during a two-day period. One of those ships, the Madeira, sank near the area known as Split Rock. Recognizing a need for a guiding light in that area after the catastrophic storm, the United States Lighthouse Service commissioned the construction of the lighthouse.
Constructing the Lighthouse
In 1910, the construction of the Split Rock Lighthouse was completed. The lighthouse building itself was just one of 10 buildings originally constructed on the grounds to help service the light. There was a fog signal building, 3 keeper’s homes, an oil house, and storage barns. The 3 keeper’s homes provided housing for the head lighthouse keeper and two assistants, plus their families. Most of these buildings still stand today.
The Lighthouse is perched atop a 133-foot cliff and helped guide ships past the rugged Lake Superior Shoreline from 1910 until it was decommissioned in 1969. During it’s time in operation the lighthouse used a beam that would flash each night in 10-second intervals and could be seen up to 20 miles away. Now, it can no longer be used as a navigational tool, but every year on November 10th, Split Rock Lighthouse once again sends out its beam in honor of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald.