Skip to main content

Boreal Community Media

New keeper of Split Rock Lighthouse focuses on future while preserving the past

Feb 22, 2020 08:31AM ● By Editor

Photo: CBS 3 Duluth

By Anthony Matt of CBS 3 Duluth - February 20, 2020

For the first time in nearly 40 years, there's a new number one guiding history up the north shore. 

Hayes Scrivens took over operations at the Split Rock Lighthouse in November. 

Ever since he's been planning what the future holds for the historic site. 

"It's a huge honor," he said. 

The third keeper since the site became the property of the Minnesota Historical Society, he can be seen regularly walking the grounds, making sure the area maintains its charm. 

"I never thought I'd have the opportunity, or be qualified to do something like this," said Scrivens. 

Scrivens took over in November when Lee Radzak retired after 36 years of keeping a watchful eye on history. 

"I'm definitely up for the task and really looking forward to this new chapter for myself personally, and my family, and the site too." 

Standing tall on the 130-foot cliff, the 110-year-old lighthouse's beacon burned bright, guiding ships along the north shore for 59 years before being deactivated in 1969.

Scrivens said, "To preserve it and keep its authenticity, that's the biggest thing you want to do when you preserve a building. Keep that authenticity, keep that character that made it special." 

The day to day for the lighthouse's keeper is much like you might expect… check the grounds routinely. He makes sure the original Fresnel Lens shines bright, while he monitors the lighthouse, ensuring it maintains an optimal temperature. 

"Part of what makes Split Rock so unique is it's still operating on all of its original pieces," he said. 

He also has to oversee all operations at the popular tourist destination, do the bookwork, help manage the gift shop, and many other things. 

"My role will change," he said, "I have a lot of administrative stuff that I have to do. But I get times where I can come down and down marketing, or come down and help facilities," he said. 

With a light chuckle, he explained how he even plows snow off the grounds in the winter when the groundskeeper isn't working. 

A jack of all trades on the site, the biggest goal for Scrivens is making sure each person that experiences the site, experiences it the way he does. 

"I'm really hoping that being at Split Rock, working at Split Rock, that doesn't wear off. I don't want my novelty to wear off because then I think it would be reflective in my work," he said, explaining his passion for his work. 

For Scrivens, the opportunity is a once in a lifetime job, where he's able to mix work and play. 

"The North Shore and Split Rock have always had a special place in my heart. To marry these two, my work, and other things that I love is just crazy," he said. 

Scrivens and his family live on-site in the original house built on the grounds. 

It also happens to be on the Northside of the same bay he proposed to his now-wife on. 

While he's only been on the job a few months, he says they are working on a few new exhibits and ways of displaying and presenting historical information to make the site more interactive to tourists.

They're still finalizing those plans before rolling anything out.

To watch a video version of this story and see related reporting, follow this link to the CBS 3 Duluth website.

Upcoming Events Near You
Boreal Ship Spotter - larger view here