Split Rock Lighthouse will welcome visitors to this year's Fitzgerald beacon lighting

Split Rock Lighthouse
The Split Rock Lighthouse beacon, located along the Lake Superior shore near Beaver Bay, Minn., is lit at dusk on Nov. 10 to recognize the anniversary of the sinking of the freighter Edmund Fitzgerald. The Fitzgerald and its crew of 29 were lost in a Lake Superior storm on Nov. 10, 1975.
Andrew Krueger | MPR News 2010

The annual Edmund Fitzgerald Memorial Beacon Lighting at Split Rock Lighthouse is one month away. This year the historic site along Minnesota's North Shore will welcome visitors back in-person for the ceremony.

It's held each Nov. 10, on the anniversary of the sinking of the freighter Edmund Fitzgerald in a Lake Superior gale, with the loss of all 29 men aboard.

During the ceremony, the names of the lost Fitzgerald crew are read as a bell tolls 29 times. Then it tolls once more, in memory of all lost mariners, as the lighthouse beacon shines out over the lake.

But last year the public could only hear the bell through speakers on their phones or computers, as the event was online-only amid the pandemic.

Hayes Scriven, site manager at Split Rock Lighthouse, said this year's ceremony will be a hybrid — with the lighthouse grounds open to the public, and a livestream online for people who can't attend.

Edmund Fitzgerald
The Edmund Fitzgerald in the St. Marys River near Nine Mile Point, circa 1975.
Courtesy of Robert Campbell

Scriven said he's looking forward to sharing the outdoor ceremony with visitors again.

"There's something about being here on-site and hearing the bell ring, and the names being read off and then seeing the beacon turned on right after that — there's just something very special about that," he said.

The lighthouse will be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Nov. 10 — a Wednesday this year — with the ceremony set to begin at 4:30 p.m. Scriven suggested that people who want to attend the ceremony arrive an hour or two early, and dress for the notoriously unpredictable weather along the Lake Superior shore in November. A headlamp and comfortable shoes are also a good idea. Masks are required inside the historic site buildings, including the lighthouse.

For those who want to watch online, video will be streamed on the Minnesota Historical Society's Facebook and YouTube pages.

"It's just a way to connect with the past, and remember that Lake Superior is a fickle animal and you've got to respect the power, and not take it for granted," Scriven said.

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