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National Landmark status for Split Rock

Posted byLee Radzak on 18 Aug 2011 | Tagged as: 100th Anniversary, Events, History, Observations

On June 23, 2011 U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced the designation of Split Rock Light Station as a National Historic Landmark.  Split Rock has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1969 but designation as a national landmark denotes a much higher level of historic significance.  Split Rock Light Station, 1959 

During two world wars and beyond, Split Rock Light Station served as a vital aid to navigation to iron ore carriers carrying iron ore shipments across western Lake Superior from the vast iron ranges in northern Minnesota to the lower Great Lakes for processing.  Split Rock is also a highly intact example of an early 20th century Great Lakes light station.

Split Rock is the twelfth light station in the United States and the second light station on the Great Lakes to receive national landmark designation.  The light station, an active navigational aid from 1910 to 1969, is now a MinnesotaSplit Rock Light Station, 2010 state historic site and is open daily to the public for tours from mid-May through mid-October.

The Shutdown is Over!

Posted byLee Radzak on 21 Jul 2011 | Tagged as: Events, History, Nature, Observations, Photography, Seasons, Uncategorized

After 21 days, the State of Minnesota goverment shutdown is over!  Split Rock, and the other Minnesota state historic sites will be open tomorrow, so we can get back to business.  The shutdown was frustrating in that it came at the time when so many people are traveling on the North Shore and wanting to visit all of the sites and state parks, all of which were closed.  The shutdown created an unfortunate situation with the closing of all the state parks and state historic sites, such as Split Rock Lighthouse.  Tourists had to walk in to the parks as no vehicles were allowed.  This caused some traffic congestion at the entrances to places like Gooseberry Falls and Split Rock Lighthouse State Parks. 

During the state shutdown state park users had to park along Highway 61 and walk into the park.

With no one allowed on the historic lighthouse grounds during the shutdown some of the wildlife got a little bolder and made themselves at home.  A young cow moose dined on the Virginia creeper planted near the lightkeeper’s houses on a couple of quiet mornings.  This will change tomorrow when the site reopens for its regular hours of 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day. 
This moose was as curious as nervous as she browsed on the Virginia creeper.
This moose was as curious as nervous as she browsed on the Virginia creeper.

Split Rock moose

07 - A Showplace for Visitors

Posted byadmin on 27 May 2010 | Tagged as: History, Podcast

Staged shot of visitors to Splitrock lighthouse ca. 1940sSplit Rock Lighthouse as the name suggests has had a divided personality. This fissure in it’s identity can perhaps be traced to a single event - the opening of the North shore Highway in 1924. What was once a foreboding fortress of rock and pine accessible only by water became in only a few short years an attraction besieged with visitors.

Excerpt from Split Rock Lighthouse by MHS Press

06 - A Lesson in Lighthouse Technology

Posted byadmin on 12 May 2010 | Tagged as: History, Podcast

Split Rock Lighthouse blueprintOne must forget for a moment the world of computers and telecommunications to appreciate the ingenuity of classic lighthouse technology. The towers and their lights, like the men who served them, had to be at once ruggedly independent and as dependable as the night was long.

Excerpt from Split Rock Lighthouse by MHS Press

First beacon lighting of the season

Posted byLee Radzak on 09 May 2010 | Tagged as: 100th Anniversary, Events, History, Nature, Observations, Seasons

Last Friday evening, May 7, we held the first “First Friday” evening event of the centennial summer celebrations at Split Rock Lighthouse.  The northeast wind and spitting snow made it feel more like November than May but a lot of people showed up for the program by Dennis O’Hara, famed Duluth photographer, and for the beacon lighting at sunset.  His website, www.northernimages.com is really worth looking at.

Of course it was so overcast on Friday that there was no “sunset” to speak of but I lit the beacon at 8:23, the official time of sunset on the North Shore, and kept it on for an hour.  For those who want to get a look at the beacon lit we will be lighting it the first Friday of every month through November.  The programs and speakers require tickets that can be ordered through the Split Rock website but the beacon lightings are open to the public and only require a state park vehicle permit.

raven nest on cliff below lighthouse Even though spring is coming very slowly this far north and this close to the big lake the animals are all ratcheting up their activity.  For the fifth year in a row the same pair of ravens is nesting on the cliff right below the lighthouse.  The young ravens just left the nest over the weekend but are sticking very close to ma and pa.  The ruckus they make beginning at 5:00 a.m. is enough to get me up for a closer look as they cling to the birch trees at the top of the cliff.  There is no sleeping once the ravens are up. 

raven-chick_8may Usually the hummingbirds show up the first week in May so we have had the feeders out for a couple of weeks already.  Should be soon.   Now if that pesky northeast wind off the lake would simmer down we may be able to get some temps above the mid fifties.

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