August 6, 1885: Minnesota Point Lighthouse shuts down

On this day in Duluth in 1885, operation of the 1858 Minnesota Point Lighthouse ceased. Built to guide mariners through the Superior Entry (the convergence of the Nemadji and St. Louis rivers between Minnesota and Wisconsin Point), the structure had problems from the start: it leaked, and the plaster covering its bricks fell off in chunks. The big problem, though, was its location on the ever-shifting sands of Minnesota Point: within a year of its construction, it no longer stood close to the water. By the mid 1880s, it was far enough away to be useless (today it stands about a half mile from the entry). While the keeper’s house was refurbished and used until 1895, the lighthouse was abandoned, and its lens was installed in a new structure at the outer end of the north pier of the Superior Entry, also in August, 1885. The Superior Entry Pierhead Light was destroyed in the “Mataafa Storm” of November, 1905. Today the Keeper’s House is gone, and the Minnesota Point Lighthouse is a ruin about 30-feet tall, deteriorating and unprotected from vandals. Read its complete history here.

Minnesota Point Light and keeper’s Cottage c. 1870s. (Image: Zenith City Press)