Split Rock Lighthouse – Two Harbors, Minnesota
Located along the coast of Lake Superior, Split Rock Lighthouse was commissioned in 1910. Construction of this historical lighthouse was initiated a few years earlier, the result of a devastating gale in 1905 that destroyed a handful of ships and damaged several others.
History of the Lake Superior Area and Split Rock Lighthouse
During the early 1900’s, transfer of iron ore along Lake Superior had steadily increased. With both a growing population and demand for iron ore, the lake became a heavily traveled waterway for commercial carriers. Due to its unforgiving coastline, Lake Superior earned the reputation of being one of the most treacherous waters for travel. Thus the Split Rock Lighthouse project was approved by Congress and the United States Lighthouse Service was granted $75,000 for its construction.
Initially the lighthouse was nestled on a seven acre parcel of land. Its beautiful setting and breathtaking views made the site a popular hotspot for tourists around the country. Split Rock Lighthouse quickly became one of the top toured lighthouses in history.
In 1939, daily operation of the lighthouse was handed over to the United States Coast Guard. Split Rock Lighthouse remained active until 1969 when it was decommissioned due to advances in modern technology. The lighthouse was then added to the National Register of Historic Places. In 1971, additional land around the lighthouse site was designated as a park area and became known as Split Rock Lighthouse State Park.
Several years after the closing of the lighthouse, a tragic storm occurred on November 10, 1975. On this day a large freighter named the Edmund Fitzgerald was traveling from Superior, Minnesota en route to Detroit, Michigan to deliver a large shipment of taconite. The fierce storm caused the ship to sink and twenty-nine of its crew members were lost at sea. The lighthouse museum hosts an annual event honoring those who lost their lives at sea.
Today Split Rock Lighthouse State Park encompasses well over two thousand acres of land. In addition to the lighthouse attraction, tourists can view a number of Minnesota wildlife including: red fox, moose, black bear, bobcat, deer, and lynx.
Avid hikers can enjoy a day of trekking along the Superior Hiking Trail. In many places the trail extends along the coastline and provides guests with a number of breathtaking views. The park offers a beautiful picturesque setting for tourists to enjoy no matter what time of year you choose to visit.
Split Rock Lighthouse Tourist Season
Split Rock Lighthouse is open on a daily basis from mid-May thru mid-October. Hours for the lighthouse are 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. During this time there are a number of different programs offered to the public. Educational tours are available for classrooms or other groups Monday-Friday. Private educational tours can be scheduled in advance by reservation.
When visiting, be sure to note that hours for the Visitors Center and the Museum Gift Store are limited. Both facilities are open Thursday thru Monday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. After the Visitors Center closes, all guests are required to have a state parking permit for their vehicle.
Every November, the lighthouse conducts a special program in honor of the Edmund Fitzgerald. The annual “Beacon Lighting” on November 10th is a rare opportunity for guests to view the lighthouse when lit. Visitors are also given a tour of the lighthouse and snapshots of the illuminated beacon are permitted.
Children (under 6) – free admission
Kids & Teens (6-17 years of age) – $4
Senior Citizens- $6
Minnesota Historical Society members receive free admission to the lighthouse.
For more information on Split Rock Lighthouse hours, programs, or directions contact the museum at:
Split Rock Lighthouse
3713 Split Rock Lighthouse Road
Two Harbors, MN 55616
Phone: (218) 226-6372