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Continued: A close look at Split Rock festivities

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  • Last update: May 8, 2010 - 9:00 PM

With nearly a half-million visitors every year, the lighthouse and state park is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the state. Special events throughout the summer will highlight the lighthouse's 100th anniversary.

WHAT TO SEE

Three lighthouse keepers' houses: One is used for storage, one is the home of the site manager, Lee Radzak, and the third is a fully furnished museum that shows what the house would have looked like in the 1920s.

The oil house: A small poured concrete structure that housed fuel. It was designed so that if there was an explosion the roof rather than the walls would blow off and then drop back into place on the walls.

The lighthouse: You can tour the first two levels, including the watch room floor. From there, you can see the weights and the gear box, and the big attraction -- the French bi-valve Fresnel lens, which is clearly visible from the floor. The third-floor and lantern deck look-out aren't open to the public.

CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION EVENTS

Split Rock hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily May 15 to Oct. 15. Between these dates and times a state park vehicle permit is not required for entry to the lighthouse, which charges $8 for adults. Note that there will be several construction projects in the area this summer (for details, go to startribune.com/travel).

First Friday events: Now through November there will be special programs, including performances by interpreters who will describe the lives of the keepers and families, the first Friday of every month. A complete schedule is at www.mnhs.org/splitrock.

To see the beacon: Normally the lighthouse is lit only on special occasions, but this year it will be lit the first Friday of every month from May through November at sunset for one hour.

Daily life at the lighthouse: Site manager Lee Radzak maintains a blog about life at the lighthouse. Go to www.mnhs.org/splitrock and click on "blog."

More about the big 1905 storm: Check out "So Terrible a Storm, A Tale of Fury on Lake Superior," by Star Tribune reporter Curt Brown (Voyageur Press, $25).

WHERE TO STAY

Camping: Split Rock State Park has 20 cart-in campsites.

Hotel options: From Duluth to Lutsen -- both an hour from Split Rock -- choose from dozens of resorts and lodges. Cove Point Lodge is 4 miles to the lighthouse (www.covepointlodge.com; 1-800-598-3221). In Two Harbors, about 17 miles to the lighthouse, try Larsmont Cottages (www.larsmontcottages.com; 1-866-687-5634) or AmericInn Hotel (www.americinn.com; 1-218-834-3000). Silver Bay also has an AmericInn (1-218-226-4300).

JIM BUCHTA

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