Split Rock Lighthouse Annual Re-lighting
Every year, the original Third-order Fresnel lens of Split Rock Lighthouse shines brightly over Lake Superior to remember the tragedy of SS Edmund Fitzgerald on November 10th and 11th. Twenty-nine men lost their lives when the “Mighty Fitz” sank during a fierce gale that created 30-foot high waves on November 10, 1975. Canadian singer and songwriter Gordon Lightfoot wrote a tribute song called “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.”
Ironically, Split Rock Lighthouse was built due to a severe storm named the Mataafa Blow of 1905 that damaged or wrecked 29 ships. The Lighthouse Service was also concerned about the local high concentration of iron ore causing havoc with navigation due to the magnetic errors of compass readings along the shoreline. All the materials for construction were lifted from the vessels up the 127-foot high Stony Point cliff because no roads existed in 1909.
Split Rock Lighthouse was First Lit on July 31, 1910 exhibiting a Flashing White Light every 10-seconds illuminated by a Third-order bivalve Fresnel lens 168-feet above lake level to a visible range of 19 nautical miles.
In 1969, Split Rock Lighthouse was deactivated and the Light extinguished due to Radar and Loran-C navigation technology. Fortunately, the Minnesota Historical Society acquired the Light Station in 1971 to restore, maintain, and preserve this historical treasure and shining Fresnel gem!
The Visitor center and Museum store are open year round.
The Lighthouse is open daily from May 15 to Oct 15. During the winter, the Lighthouse is closed except for the annual Lighting on Nov 10th and 11th which is the best time for night photography of the gleaming Fresnel gem casting a brilliant beam of light over the lake. Autumn colors provide a excellent vista behind the golden-colored bricks of the Lighthouse Tower.
Dennis O’Hara of Northern Images has captured a romantic photo of two Lighthouse Lovers gazing at the reflection of the Light beam! Dennis also has a close-up photo of Split Rock Lighthouse shining bright at night.
For Map Directions, please visit the Google Map of Split Rock Lighthouse.