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Archive for January, 2010

02 - Building the Light

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Split Rock Lighthouse construction; Snapshot 1909-1910; Negative no. 44317 It took 18 months to build Split Rock Lighthouse on Minnesota’s North Shore. A construction crew of 35-50 men stayed on site in canvas tents throughout building, breaking only for the worst winter months. When the Lighthouse was finished on July 31, 1910 it stood as a much testament to the will of those who built it, as a navigation aid to those who need it.

Excerpt from Split Rock Lighthouse by MHS Press

01 - Dangerous Waters and a Need for a Lighthouse

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

Madeira: ca. 1900-1905,  wrecked in a violent storm near Split Rock in 1905; Institute for Great Lakes ResearchThe early 1900s saw one of the world’s largest steel carrying fleets sailing under single ownership set out upon some of the world’s most dangerous waters. One storm on November 28, 1905 damaged 29 ships, one third belonging to the same steel company fleet. Following the storm, lobbyist flooded D.C. and in 1907 congress appropriated $75,000 for a lighthouse and fog signal on Lake Superior’s North Shore.

Excerpt from Split Rock Lighthouse by MHS Press

The passing of a keeper’s daughter

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

ca-1930On January 1 94 year old Beulah Covell-Myers passed away in Virginia Beach, Virginia.  Beulah was the daughter of Franklin J. Covell.  Covell served as a keeper with the U.S. Lighthouse Service at Split Rock Lighthouse from 1913-16, and again from 1922-44.  He was head lighthouse keeper at Split Rock from 1928-1944.  Beulah, and her younger sister, Ileana, married two brothers from a commercial fishing family that lived near the lighthouse, Mike and Otto Myers.   

Beulah, and her sister Ileana, were great friends of Split Rock Lighthouse and had a real love and interest in the famous historic site.  Both women provided a great deal of information on their lives at the light station in the 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s.  They were very generous with sharing their photographs and memories of their life at the lighthouse which contributed greatly to the interpretive story of the historic site.

The historic site staff was looking forward to Beulah returning to Split Rock for this summer’s centennial celebration, as I know she was.  I know that she will be here in spirit.  We are hopeful that other members of the Covell-Myers clan, including Ileana, will be able to make it.

Limited Product to be Unveiled on January 8th, 2010

Monday, January 4th, 2010

2010 Monthly Calendar - Centennial EditionMark your calendar! Friday, January 8th marks the release of our limited edition product from the Split Rock Museum Store.  Among the products will be the Harbour Lights brand, centennial edition Little Light of Mine.  2 PM in our theater we will be hosting MN artist Jim Povich for the unveiling the original Centennial watercolor painting done especially for the Centennial.  After the ceremony Jim will be available to talk about his painting and limited edition prints will be available for sale.

Wintering at Split Rock Lighthouse

Saturday, January 2nd, 2010

ore-boat-in-frost-smoke-6jan04Winter is a quieter time at the lighthouse, and along the North Shore in general.  It seems like this first week of each new year winter wants to get serious about letting us know how far the sun is away from our hemisphere and the temperatures drop like a rock thrown into the lake.  This week the highs might get into single digits above and the lows at night are in the minus teen and twenties.p10700341 


For those hardy folks that make the winter trek to the North Shore over the holidays (and there are an amazing number of people around this week) they can be rewarded with some spectacular conditions and photographs.  This is the month when the full moon rises behind the lighthouse at sunset behind the lighthouse.  Twenty years ago there were only a few people that knew about this or were interested in taking photographs of the moonrise.  For this last moonrise on December 31 at least a dozen photographers who were willing to abide the single digit temperatures they were rewarded with a beautiful moonrise with just the right amount of cloud cover to make the photos more interesting.

Satellite image of lake-effect snows This is also the time of year for lake effect snow.  With the prevailing north or northwest winds in the winter the North Shore gets far less lake effect snow than the south shore of Lake Superior.    From Split Rock you can watch the frigid winds pulling the moisture from the warmer lake in the form of sea-smoke (the old time local commercial fisherman called it “frost-smoke”).  The tendrils of steam rise and move across the lake and as it comes in contact with the higher elevations along the far shore it drops this moisture as very fluffy snow…often feet at at time!  The big lake will be ice free for another month before the water temperature drops enough for it to make ice on calm nights in early February.Sea smoke at -35 degrees F.

The pastel colors of winter sunrises and sunsets, the bright sunlight and steam off the lake, and the quieter traffic does make this time of year a peaceful counterpoint to the hectic summers at the historic site.  But then again, there is planning for the Split Rock centennial to see to.