Cellpic Sunday – Split Rock Lighthouse

Split Rock Lighthouse.

Two Harbors, Minnesota.

Our September road trip and Canadian cruise brought us lots of opportunities to photograph light stations. Probably the most photographed lighthouse in Minnesota is a worthy stop along the North Shore Scenic Drive. U.S. Highway 81 hugs the shore of Lake Superior from Duluth to Grand Portage. But I digress, as I’ll save the North Shore Scenic Drive for a Travel Tuesday post soon.

For this Cellpic Sunday, I picked one stop along the way and captured an image of an icon that protected ships from the rocky Lake Superior shoreline for 50 years or so. Iron ore became a staple of Lake Superior shipping in the late 19th century and iron ore was transported in large quantities. After a massive storm wrecked 29 ships in November 1905, Minnesota shipping company executives traveled to Washington D.C. to lobby for a light station and fog horn.

In 1910, the Split Rock Lighthouse first cast its rotating beacon across the waters of Lake Superior. With advances in navigation technology, the station was decommissioned in 1969. First LORAN (Long Range Navigation Radar), then GPS systems provided the navigational aids to keep ships from getting too close to the rocky shores of the lake. One tidbit of information I learned on the Split Rock Lighthouse website is that in the United States, only five light stations remain in service with personnel staffed through the Coast Guard. All other light stations are either automated or decommissioned. You can read more about the history of the lighthouse and its transfer to the Minnesota Historical Society here.

About the photo: This close-up view of the lighthouse was captured while I stood on a walkway between the lighthouse and the building that houses the large fog horn that protected ships when the visibility was too low to see that piercing beam of light. The snapshot I captured from my Samsung S20U was downloaded into Adobe Lightroom, then into Luminar Neo for the basic tweaks needed to enhance the image. For a view in 2K on my Flickr site, just click on the photo.

I encourage fellow bloggers to create their own Cellpic Sunday posts. I never have a specific topic for this feature, and the only rules are that the photo must be captured with a cell phone, iPad, or another mobile device… If you have an image from a drone or even a dashcam, that’s acceptable as well. The second rule is to link your challenge response to this post or leave a comment here with a link to your post in the comment. Oh, and, you don’t have to post it on a Sunday.

John Steiner

39 comments

    • I suspect that high on its point, it takes a lot of wind. It is really strongly built. When it was being constructed, there were no roads to the site, so construction was a major undertaking. That may have been a factor in its materials and decision to keep it unpainted.

    • This lighthouse was built as sturdy as any I’ve ever seen. It is high on the top of a rocky cliff, so I expect it has to withstand strong winds regularly. Apparently it was built right, it’s lasted over a century.

  1. Great looking lighthouse, John 👏 I always think it’s better to automate rather than decommission lighthouses; all too often, there are failures in onboard navigation systems & lighthouses still get ships out of trouble!

    • One of the things I learned on this trip is that many of the light houses are now automated.

      All along the North Shore of Lake Superior there are automated stations that replace the previously used “live in attendant” type.

      Tomorrow’s (12/13/22) Travel Tuesday features one of these conversions.

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