Split Rock Lighthouse, MN
Split Rock Lighthouse was put into service in July of 1910. When the lighthouse was first built, it was only accessible by boat. The lightkeepers and their families all lived on the grounds. Since there was no way to easily get to the house, all fuel was brought by a hoist system over the cliffs. In 1915 they constructed a tram from the shoreline to bring up the supplies. This made for a little easier access to the lighthouse. In 1934, the road was completed to the lighthouse and they were now able to get their supplies directly from Duluth. These unique methods of transportation created for a variety of different overlooks to see the North Shore lighthouse.
The accessibility to Split Rock Lighthouse has made it one of the most photographed ones in Minnesota. It is also why it’s the fifth most visited State Parks in Minnesota. The lighthouse is currently managed by the Minnesota Historical Society. Split Rock Lighthouse has guided tours of the location that run every 20 mins and have a short film on the history of the lighthouse you can see. You are also welcome to explore on your own the grounds if you like. One of the things that we loved about the park was that you could go up to the lighthouse and check out exactly how it works. My kids loved getting to climb up the stairs and see the light at the top of the house. It was a steep climb, so make sure to hang on to your little ones.
Photographing Split Rock Lighthouse
If you want to get the classic Split Rock Lighthouse photo from the coastline, be prepared to climb. Remember that tram they used to have to bring up supplies the lighthouse? They have built steps along that path to hike down to the shoreline. Once getting down there, you are exposed to an amazing view. I recommend taking your time down there because it’s 171 steps to get back to the top. It’s not until you have climbed 56 steps back up, staring at the 115 more steps in front of you before you start to wonder, why haven’t they put the tram back in operation? It would make things so much easier.
The good news is, they do have an overlook there that you can take a break at. I recommend if you think the steps will be too much, only go to this platform to get a picture. You’ll only have to climb 115 steps back up and can still get a great picture.
To learn more about Jay Cooke State Park, see the full story and photo gallery from Day Tripper, you can visit
Jen spends her spare time exploring the midwest and blogs about her adventures. Thank you Jen for sharing with the Northern Minnesota Chamber.