MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s one of the most recognizable landmarks in our state: the Split Rock Lighthouse near Two Harbors.

In this week’s Finding Minnesota, John Lauritsen shows us how this historic site is getting ready to offer something new to its visitors.

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“It’s magical. And it changes every day. Every, single day is something different,” said Hayes Scriven.

And it doesn’t matter the season, the North Shore shines from its shorelines to its peaks. At the center of it all is the Split Rock Lighthouse. These days it’s a beacon for visitors more than ships.

Scriven is the new site manager. No, he does not live in the lighthouse, but in one of the keeper’s houses. He beat out 70 other applicants for the grand prize of calling Split Rock home.

“It had always been a dream because it’s Split Rock. It’s an iconic place in Minnesota with a mystique all its own. A great story, great visitation,” said Scriven.

(credit: CBS)

The story began after an epic storm in 1905 damaged 30 ships on Lake Superior. Five years and $75,000 later, this stoic light station was built on a 100 foot cliff. If you’re keeping score, there are 32 steps from the bottom to the top.

WCCO’s John Lauristen asked Scriven: “As somebody who is now in charge, do you think about what it was like to be in these shoes 100 years ago?”

“You can just hear the past around you. This place has a past. So much has happened. I can feel that connection,” Scriven said.

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The present offers a whole, new set of challenges. The previous lighthouse keeper had been here for 36 years. Almost as soon as Hayes took over, COVID-19 hit. And as the light station comes back from shutdowns and restrictions, they’re adding new twists to an old destination.

“We’ve developed a guided tour, 45 minutes to an hour where people can get inside the buildings in small groupings,” Scriven said. “So you should make a better personal connection to history. That’s what we want people to do, have a better personal connection with history.”

While also making a personal connection with the natural beauty that surrounds them on the North Shore.

“You start seeing ice melt off the lake and you can see pieces of ice pushed to the shore. You get interesting shots,” said interpreter Jeri Bohack.

“You don’t get a view like this anywhere else in the state of Minnesota,” said Scriven.

Most years during peak season, Split Rock will see a thousand visitors a day or more. About a third of their visitors come from other countries.

The lighthouse was decommissioned in 1969. They still shine the light and blow the fog horns twice a year. That’s for the anniversary of the lighthouse opening on July 31 and to remember those who died on the Edmund Fitzgerald shipwreck, on Nov. 10.

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For more information on the new tour, a photography exhibit by Christian Dalbec, and other sight-seeing options at Split Rock, click here.

John Lauritsen