Split Rock Lighthouse State Park

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Split Rock Lighthouse is a lighthouse located southwest of Silver Bay, Minnesota, USA on the North Shore of Lake Superior. The structure was designed by lighthouse engineer Ralph Russell Tinkham and was completed in 1910 by the United States Lighthouse Service at a cost of $75,000, including the buildings and the land. It was built in response to the loss of ships during the famous Mataafa Storm of 1905, in which 29 ships were lost on Lake Superior. One of these shipwrecks, the Madeira, is located just north of the lighthouse. The light was first lit on July 31, 1910.

It is built on a 130-foot sheer cliff. The octagonal lighthouse tower is a steel-framed brick structure with concrete trim on a concrete foundation set into the rock. It is topped with a steel lantern. The lighthouse features a bi-valve type Fresnel lens. The lens floats on a bearing surface of liquid mercury. The lens is rotated by an elaborate clockwork mechanism that is powered by weights running down the center of the tower which can be wound by a crank at the top. When completed, the lighthouse was lighted with an incandescent oil vapor lamp that burned kerosene. In 1940, the station was electrified and the lamp was replaced with a 1000 watt electric bulb, and the incandescent oil vapor lamp was moved to Au Sable Point Lighthouse in Northern Michigan.

Split Rock was also outfitted with a fog signal housed in a building next to the light tower, now featuring a Type F-2-T diaphone (be-you) type signal in 1936. When the station was electrified four years later, the fog signal began to be powered by electricity. The fog signal was discontinued in 1961.

The light was retired in 1969 by the U. S. Coast Guard. The lighthouse is now part of the Split Rock Lighthouse State Park and is operated by the Minnesota Historical Society. The site includes the original tower and lens, the fog signal building, the oil house, and the three keepers' houses. It is restored to appear as it did in the late 1920s. 






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Split Rock Lighthouse State Park
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