Guest Author - Sharon Bejin
Lighthouses decorate the shorelines of the Great Lakes, but they weren’t always available to help ships find their way through the dark and fog. This was apparent back in 1905 when many ships were damaged during a fierce storm on Lake Superior. After that storm, Split Rock Lighthouse was built to give ships some direction at night and when visibility was poor.
The Split Rock Lighthouse was built along the shores of Lake Superior in Minnesota in 1910. This site was selected because it stood high above Lake Superior. The height is incredible. During the building process, all of the materials for the project had to be hoisted up the 130-foot cliff. The hoist lifted over 300 ton of building materials to the site.
Eventually a tramway was built to haul supplies up the cliff during and after the building of the lighthouse. Once the lighthouse was built, the lighthouse keeper and his family moved into a smaller home that was built close by. The tramway was used to bring supplies and materials to the family so they could maintain the lighthouse, their home, and outbuildings. A dock and stairs were built for visitors.
The lighthouse itself stands 168 feet above the water. The lens in the lighthouse was lit for the first time in July, 1910. When the lighthouse was in use, the bright light flashed every 10 seconds during the evenings. Now a historical site, tourists are allowed to go inside the lighthouse and see the huge lens used to guide the ships. Tourists can also take a peek into the home where the lighthouse keepers lived. If visitors want, they can take the stairway down to Lake Superior. The challenge comes when they have to walk back up - all 177 steps.
Split Rock Lighthouse is one of many lighthouses on the Great Lakes. It is not used to guide ships anymore, although it still stands symbolically for the ships and deckhands that manned them. Lighthouses are rich in history and appealing to say the least. Today we visit these unique treasures to satisfy our need to go back in the past and see what things were like years ago on the shores of Lake Superior.