Split Rock Lighthouse
The symbol of Minnesota's North Shore
In the early years of the twentieth century, iron ore shipments on Lake Superior boomed. U.S. Steel's bulk ore carriers were among the world's largest fleets, and with their increasing presence came increased demand for a lighthouse on the lake's North Shore. A fierce storm on November 28, 1905, damaged twenty-nine ships, a third of which were owned by U.S. Steel. A delegation led by the steamship company's president lobbied the U.S. Congress, and, in early 1907, $75,000 was appropriated for a lighthouse and fog signal near Split Rock.
The U.S. Lighthouse Service completed the lighthouse and surrounding buildings in 1910 and operated the site until 1939, when the U.S. Coast Guard took over. By that time, Split Rock's location near the North Shore highway (completed in 1924) made it one of the most visited lighthouses in the country. The station closed in 1969 when modern navigational equipment made it obsolete; today it is a historic site operated by the Minnesota Historical Society and is also on the National Register of Historic Places.
For many Minnesotans, Split Rock Lighthouse symbolizes Lake Superior's North Shore. It is a place to return to on annual vacations, a place to snap photos, a place that reminds us of the area's rich past. "On a personal note," writes nominator Sally Wojtowicz of Forest Lake, Minnesota, "it was where my parents took me on my first vacation as a child. I fell in love with lighthouses at that moment. Surely, at that early age, I thought I was looking out at the ocean below! Forty-six years later, and with visits to many other lighthouses behind me, I can truly state that nothing can compare to her."
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I am very pleased to see Split Rock included in the MN 150. Being a great-grandson of Pete Young, I grew up hearing stories about the lighthouse and my family. It truly is a remarkable place and a very significant piece of Minnesota history, and I look forward to bringing Pete Young's great-great grandson there many times in the future.