By Jim Umhoefer
Lake County. About 20 miles northeast of Two Harbors on Highway 61. Highway map index: O-9.
The November gale raged for two days on Lake Superior. By the time it abated, 29 vessels were damaged, two of them foundering on the rocky shoals and sharp reefs of the coastline near present-day Split Rock Lighthouse State Park.
After this infamous storm in 1905, pressure for a lighthouse on the isolated rocky headland of Split Rock prompted Congress to authorize money for its construction. The U.S. Lighthouse Service completed the facility in 1910 and operated it until 1939, when the U.S. Coast Guard took over. The station closed in 1969, made obsolete by modern navigation equipment. The lighthouse prevented many tragedies, however. Storms brew quickly and can strike with a vengeance on Lake Superior. Her choppy waves and cold water (40-45 degrees Fahrenheit) are the enemies of sailors in distress. The lighthouse keepers kept watch on the weather and warned vessels of danger with a two-toned fog siren and an oil vapor beacon (electric after 1940). Read more: