We own a cabin just ten miles from here, but have never visited the lighthouse. What a mistake... our visit was well worth the time and the $9.00 admission. I would recommend you take the time to watch the short video before touring the lighthouse and grounds, as it allows you to better appreciate things.
Back in November of 1905, a terrible storm on Lake Superior destroyed twenty-nine bulk ore carriers and took the lives of thirty-six seamen, the need for a lighthouse on the rocky northern shore of Superior was evident.
In 1906, a delegation went to Washington D.C. to convince Congress to allocate funds for the construction of a lighthouse on the dangerous northern shore of Lake Superior.
In 1907, $75,000 was appropriated and plans were put in place to build the much-needed lighthouse (and a fog horn). The location for the lighthouse would be near the area where the Split Rock River flows into Lake Superior.
In 1909, as there was no road leading to the building site chosen for the new lighthouse, the first challenge was to figure out how to get building materials to the site and up the cliff. A steam-powered hoist and derrick was built for lifting supplies off the boats on the lake more than 110 feet below the construction site. This method was used during the entire construction period. Over three hundred tons of building materials were lifted over a period of thirteen months without a major accident.
On July 31, 1910, the lighthouse was first lit and it stood not only as an aid to navigation, but a monument to the will of the men who built it.
There is a guide that will take you on a short tour, explain some of the history, and then you are on your own. People are in period dress and answer any questions you may have in the lighthouse as well as the light keeper's house. The views are spectacular from the grounds, but hike down the path to the shoreline of Lake Superior. The vistas from the shore back up to the Lighthouse on the cliff are unforgettable. There is also a nice gift shop and parking area.
Be prepared to spend at least two-three hours at the lighthouse. There is much to see and many wonderful photo opportunities. There are also some great hikes at Split Rock State Park, but you will need to purchase a park pass for those. You do NOT need the Park passes to view the lighthouse.