In 1905, the Mataafa Storm ravaged Lake Superior sinking 29 ships. In response, what we now know as the Split Rock Lighthouse was built. Constructed in an area with no road access, all materials were shipped in by boat, and then hoisted by crane up the sheer 130-ft cliff. The lighthouse was completed and first lit in 1910 and after 59 years of service, the light was retired. The lighthouse has now been restored to it’s 1920’s appearance, and the area is a Minnesota State Park and National Historic Landmark.

Split Rock Lighthouse Pictures

Those are the facts of the Split Rock Lighthouse, but they don’t really tell the whole story. And how could they? The real story is one that can’t really be explained but through image. The jutting cliff, rising out of the waters, implacable and rugged, crowned by the ordered, geometric precision of the lighthouse. It is an image of seeming contradiction, the wildness of nature and the order of man.

Split Rock Lighthouse Images

This is what drew tourists almost immediately to the Lighthouse’s location, even before roads were built. Imagine seeing the Lighthouse from the water, towering 184 feet above the water level, most of that height coming from the rock cliff. What we see is telling. Is it an image of nature conquered and subdued by man’s ingenuity, or does it represent a tiny and feeble attempt to bring order out of chaos?

Or perhaps it suggests hope of a third way: that man need not choose whether to conquer or be hamstrung by the natural world, but rather that the two great forces at work on this planet can find a harmonious solution. Perhaps something as simple and elegant as a dolerite and anorthosite cliff supporting an octagonal lighthouse, lit by kerosene and electricity, can show the way.

Written by:
John VanOverbeke

All Split Rock Lighthouse Images are captured by Wayne Moran and are available for purchase At The Online Gallery

Written by Wayne Moran - Visit Website