SPLIT ROCK LIGHTHOUSE STATE PARK
This park is situated on the North Shore of Lake Superior. Perhaps best known for its historic lighthouse, this park offers numerous recreational opportunities. Visitors can cart-in their supplies to pristine campsites along Lake Superior. Scenic trails along the lake link up to the spectacular Superior Hiking Trail. Anglers cast their lines for lake trout, salmon, and brown trout. The rocky beach is perfect for skipping stones into Lake Superior.
Hiking trails in the park connect with the magnificent Superior Hiking Trail. This trail parallels much of the Lake Superior coastline and passes by scenic waterfalls. Trails wind through beautiful stands of birch, spruce, fir, and ash trees. The winter landscape is also spectacular adding to the popularity of the cross-country ski trails.
The magnificent bluffs upon which the lighthouse is built are formations of anorthosite. The bedrock is a result of ancient lava flows. Then over an immense time span, many complex geological processes occurred. Water covered the area depositing sediment over the bedrock. Later this rock was bent and compressed by mountain-building forces. Eventually a series of glaciers scraped the landscape, scouring out the Lake Superior Basin and shearing off the shoreline cliffs. Then the meltwaters of the glaciers flowed over the upland rock cliffs, carved away the less resistant rock and filled the basin we know as Lake Superior.
Wildlife in the park includes a variety of small songbirds, herring gulls and common loons. Peregrine falcons have been spotted on their migration along the North Shore. Visitors are also treated to sightings of white-tailed deer, moose, black bear, raccoon, beaver, snowshoe hare, red fox, bobcat and lynx.
Split Rock Lighthouse State Park has a rich and varied history. From 1899 to 1906, the Merrill and Ring Lumber Company logged most of the original Norway and white pine from the area. During peak years, the company operated a short railroad up the river. Pilings from old wharf and dam can still be seen jutting out of the water at the mouth of the Split Rock River. In 1905, a punishing November gale (the kind Lake Superior is famous for), claimed the Edenborn and the Madiera (a barge the Edenborn was towing) as well as five other ships, within a dozen miles of the Split Rock River. The tragic sinking of these ships fueled the demand for a lighthouse. The fog signal building and lighthouse were completed in 1909 and commissioned one year later. For 59 years, the keepers at Split Rock warned ships away from the rock and treacherous North Shore with its 370,000-candlepower beacon. In 1971, the federal government deeded the lighthouse station to the State of Minnesota to be operated as a historic site. In 1976, the Minnesota Historical Society (MHS) assumed operation of the site which included one of the most photographed lighthouses in the United States.