There’s something romantic about a lighthouse. The emotion that a solitary column and blazing beacon evoke forms a lump in my throat. Perhaps it’s the images in my mind of the courageous men and women who care for the lights, who risk everything and sacrifice much to ensure the lights stays lit. Perhaps it’s the symbolism, so often used in hymns and spiritual applications, of sailors tossed and helpless, lacking direction, and then the light shines out and they are able to navigate once again. Perhaps it is because I’m a Kansas girl, landlocked since birth, that the almost exotic nature of vast bodies of water and the people who live there prick my curiosity. Whatever it is about them, lighthouses draw me.
The Marriage Masquerade story came about because of a trip I made to one of America’s most recognizable lighthouses. Perched on a 130 foot cliff over tempestuous Lake Superior, the sturdy tower and fog house of Split Rock Lighthouse have stood for 100 years. I couldn’t help but fall in love with the location and knew right away I wanted to set a story there. I was thrilled when Ashley Schrock, Creative Director at Barbour, worked Split Rock into the cover art for The Marriage Masquerade. It’s everything I dreamed it would be.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the first lighting of Split Rock Light. After devastating storms in 1905 in which 78 sailors lost their lives, 19 ships were wrecked or lost, and more than $2 million dollars in damages were incurred, the shipping tycoons of the day demanded the U.S. Government aid them by building more lighthouses.
Split Rock was designed by Ralph Russell Tinkham, who would go on to become the chief engineer of the entire US Lighthouse service, building lighthouses in places like Alaska and Hawaii before the end of his career. But Split Rock, in addition to being (in my opinion) his most beautiful and challenging job, launched his career.
Because of advances in navigational technology, the lighthouse at Split Rock is no longer in service. It now belongs to the Minnesota Historical Society and the people of Minnesota. Every year, the Society lights the lamp at Split Rock on November 10th, to commemorate the loss of the Edmund Fitzgerald. To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the lighthouse, several special activities are planned along with the regular tours and programs. One of these special activities is the weekly lighting of the Frenel lens in the tower.
If you ever have the chance to visit Split Rock, I encourage you to go. It’s a powerful experience to stand on that cliff, to feel the surge and flow of Lake Superior like some giant heartbeat, and to feel the cool breeze flowing in off the water. To hear about the men who served there, the trials they encountered, and the dedication and sacrifice they showed, making that light and the safety of lake sailors their only priority.
To learn more about Split Rock Lighthouse, visit the Minnesota State Historical Society website HERE.The photo at the top was taken by my husband on one of our trips to Split Rock. My son tried to personally fill in Lake Superior at the base of the cliff. He threw so many rocks in the water, I'm certain he raised the level of the lake.
Question of the Day: Is there a site you've visited or long to visit that evokes an emotional response?