July 31, 1910
“Shipwrecks from a mighty 1905 November gale prompted this rugged landmark’s construction. The construction was an engineering feat in such a remote location. The lighthouse was completed by the U.S. Lighthouse Service in 1910.” *
Why is it that pain elicits an active response that “normal” life doesn’t? Why is it that we do not neglect action after a certain level of loss? Why do we wait to become creative problem solvers?
Will You guide this writing to elucidate the reader to the level of shipwrecks in this era of iron ore, grain, lumber, and fish shipments across Lake Superior and the Great Lakes? In a single season of November 1905, there were 78 fatalities and 29 disabled or destroyed ships.** When one adds in the frigid water, rocky coastline, and tendency of these shippers to overload their vessels it is easy to empathize with the concerns of sailors.
In response, United States Steel Corporation lobbied Congress to build a lighthouse with a foghorn. This effort was executed by engineer Ralph Russell Tinkham of the U.S. Lighthouse Establishment. All building materials had to be hoisted up the 110 foot cliff from lakeside either by steam-powered derick, or railed up on a freight tram. Workers spent 13 months living and working on the cliff in tents with a brief respite during the coldest months of winter.
This day we remember the names of these lost vessels and their unnamed crews to You, Lord of All Seas: the A.C. Adams, Alice Vivian, Amboy, Bob Anderson, Lotta Bernard, A. Booth, E.T. Carrington, Charley, City of Winnipeg, Comet, Belle P. Cross, F.L. Danforth, Donna Marie, Duluth, Elgin, Samuel P. Ely, U.S.S. Essex, Fayling, E.P.Ferry, Fiorgyn, Thomas Friant, F.W. Gillet, R.F.Goodman, Criss Grover, Harriet B, George Herbert, Hesper, B.B. Inman, Isle Royale, John H. Jeffrey Jr., J.C. Keyes, Lafayette, Lewie, Liberty, Madeline, Madeira, Mary Martini, May Flower, Mentor, Niagara, Benjamin Noble, Oden, Onoko, Osprey, G. Pfister, Rebel, George Spencer, Ella G. Stone, Stillman Witt, Stranger, Robert Wallace, Thomas Wilson, and the Six Dredge Scows.
Will You forgive any judgments’ we made of these lost seamen, their wives, families and friends, and employers towards each other and towards You in their aeon? Will You cleanse Superior and the Great Lakes of its vast depths of unforgivenness?
Will You especially release the pain caused by the urgency of the timber, iron mining, and taconite industries to expedite these shipments to world markets? Will You forgive us our industriousness that broke with Your Sabbath? We have missed Your wisdom when we work too much.
We remember also the efforts of Ralph Russell Tinkham and his construction workers. We thank You for their superhuman efforts to build Split Rock Lighthouse. Will You bless them, their progeny, and those who follow in their footsteps? Will You give us strength and acceptance when we face storms beyond our control? Will You make us beacon and horn today to lead our peers away from the rocks and towards safe harbor?