Split Rock Light House State Park

The State Parks of Northern Minnesota: Split Rock Lighthouse State Park

  • The State Parks of Northern Minnesota: Split Rock Lighthouse State Park

    This week we’ll be continuing our series on the great State Parks that surround Cove Point Lodge, and if you remember, our first in this series was on Gooseberry Falls. You can read up on that State Park by clicking here.

    Location
    Split Rock Lighthouse is located just 5 minutes south from Cove Point Lodge right along Lake Superior’s beautiful shore. It’s easily accessible , right off highway 61, or rent a bike from the front desk and take the Gitchi Gami Bike Trail to the park. Split Rock Lighthouse is one of Minnesota’s best-known landmarks and it offers a glimpse of historic lighthouse life. This spectacular setting will take your breath away as you experience a piece of Minnesota’s history. Split Rock State Park surrounds the historic spot, offering scenic trails, beaches, camping and fishing spots.

    History
    In 1905 there was a spike of horrible shipwrecks on Lake Superior. A single storm on Nov. 28, 1905 damaged 29 ships, one third of which were the uninsured property of the U.S. Steel fleet. It was time something needed to be done and that something was a lighthouse. The U.S Lighthouse Service completed construction on the magnificent lighthouse in 1910 and the light at Split Rock shone until 1939. By that time it was “the most visited lighthouse in the United States.” The state of Minnesota obtained the historic and scenic landmark in 1971, transferring administrative responsibility for the historic site to the Minnesota Historical Society in 1976.

    Experience Life at the Lighthouse
    Have you ever wondered what it would be like to go back in time and live in a less industrialized era? A visit to Split Rock Lighthouse is the next best thing. When the first keepers arrived at Split Rock in 1910 it was a very remote and barren place. Plain and simple, the life of the keepers was tough. Through the night the keepers and assistants rotated four-hour watches and during the day they kept an eye out for weather, constantly watching for a brewing storm. Back then the lake isolated the station and there was no direct land access, so the keepers had to be skilled at repairing equipment as well as operating it. On top of that the keeper functioned as an administrator, bookkeeper and tour guide, once the Lake Superior International Highway opened in 1924. When you visit Split Rock you will experience first-hand what everyday life was like for a lighthouse keeper.

    View from the Split Rock Light House Photo by Amy Meredit

    Things to do
    At Split Rock Lighthouse there are plenty of activities and historical sites at the lighthouse and the surrounding state park. Start your visit at the history center with detailed displays, exhibits and video presentations showcasing the progression of the historic lighthouse. To dig a bit deeper into history, walk around and visit the keeper’s home and outbuildings to get a glimpse of their daily lifestyle. The 20-minute tour will make you feel like you lived in the era. Save the best for last and climb the steep stairs to the top of the lighthouse to appreciate the history and enjoy the gorgeous view of Lake Superior. Try not to get blown away… it’s windy up there!

    After you explore the lighthouse, head over to the Split Rock Lighthouse State Park and enjoy the wonderful trails, campsites, beaches and fishing spots the park offers. There are plenty of picnic areas with tables and fire rings to rent for summer family gatherings. Are you a hiker? Experience the 12-mile hiking trail with 3-miles along the lake and trails up the river and through the magnificent Minnesota woods. The Gitchi Gami bike trail runs through the park and plenty of spots to stop and catch some fresh Lake Superior fish.

    Before you go
    The best part about planning a trip is looking up pictures and researching information on where you’re heading. The Minnesota Historical Society is a great resource to check out before packing your car and heading off. You will find great information on tours, park and trail maps, a detailed history of the lighthouse and a fantastic photo gallery.

    Admission prices, directions and the landmark’s hours are all located on their website so make sure to take a look before you go.

    http://sites.mnhs.org/historic-sites/split-rock-lighthouse

    A great place to visit
    This historical spot is one you definitely don’t want to miss out on seeing. The intense history and beautiful Lake Superior scenery is guaranteed to leave you amazed. There is a reason that this landmark was once the United States most visited lighthouse! Now it’s your turn to experience it for yourself.