In the early 1900s ships carrying iron ore from the iron ranges of Minnesota would sail down the Great Lakes to the east coast of the United States. Storms and the rocky coast line of Lake Superior often made it a perilous journey. After a single storm in 1905 damaged 29 ships representatives from the shipping and iron industries lobbied congress for funds to build a lighthouse on the shore of what some people referred to "the most dangerous piece of water in the world."
In 1907 Congress appropriated $75,000 to purchase the land and build the lighthouse and its compound. Construction on the lighthouse began in 1909. Most of the supplies and labor came from the port city of Duluth, MN. Supplies and building materials were delivered by boat and then had to be hoisted 110 feet up the cliff by a steam powered hoist and derrick. It took about 13 months to complete and began operations on July 31st, 1910. The lighthouse has been restored back to its 1920s appearance and is now managed by the Minnesota Historical Society.