A view of Split Rock Lighthouse from the water
A view of Split Rock Lighthouse

The Legend Lives On (from the Chippewa On Down)

This Thursday, November 10, marks the 36th anniversary of the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, the tragedy immortalized in Gordon Lightfoot’s 1976 pop song. In Two Harbors, Minnesota, you can access panoramic views of Lake Gitche-Gami from atop a historic lighthouse. Thursday is the one day a year when the Split Rock Lighthouse turns on its powerful beacon; visitors can climb to the top of the tower and watch the revolving spotlight pulsing over Lake Superior. It’s also the day when the names of the 29 crew members who died on the Edmund Fitzgerald will be read, starting at 4:30 p.m., to the tolling of a ship’s bell. Beyond the fantastic photo ops outside the lighthouse and from the torch at the top, a dramatic shot of the beacon outlined against sky and rock can be snapped if you hike the quarter-mile trail from the top of the cliff where the lighthouse is perched down to lake level. Also worth investigating: the 14 miles of mainly forested hiking and biking trails in Split Rock Lighthouse State Park.

And while you’re in the area: The North Shore Scenic Drive, along the edge of Lake Superior, offers 154 miles of panoramic views, which you can take in via bicycle, on foot, or through your car window. By car, take Highway 61 to Gooseberry Falls State Park, and you’ll encounter the wall of waterfalls where the Gooseberry River tumbles down a sheer stone face toward Lake Superior. Continue on 61 for 105 miles and you’ll reach Grand Portage State Park, where the largest waterfall in the state cascades from High Falls to the Pigeon River. (For more information taking the North Shore Scenic Drive by car, click here.

GO Split Rock Lighthouse, 3713 Split Rock Lighthouse Rd., Two Harbors; 218-226-6372, www.mnhs.org/splitrock

Where to stay: The family-owned Castle Haven Cabins (3067 E. Castle Danger Rd., Two Harbors; 218-834-4303, castlehaven.net) has cozy four-season cabins with fireplaces with knotty pine interiors on the shores of Lake Superior; rates start at $125 a night. At Gooseberry Trailside Suites (3317 Highway 61, Two Harbors; 800-715-1110, gooseberry.com), each room comes with a fireplace—and a prime location on the edge of Gooseberry State Park; rates start at $95 a night.

Where to eat: The Ledge Rock Grille (596 Larsmont Way, Two Harbors, 866-687-5634, larsmontcottages.com/ledge-rock-grille) offers a lake view and a seasonal menu that right now includes quail salad and apple roasted pork. At Nokomis Restaurant & Bar on the Lake (5593 N. Shore Dr., Duluth; 218-525-2286, nokomisonthelake.com), the owner/chef Sean Lewis, formerly of Everest, serves seasonal food that is modern (sashimi tuna pizza) and traditional (local lake trout with shallots).


Photograph: Lee Radzak, Historic Site Manager