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Split Rock River

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Title: Split Rock River  
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Subject: Cross River (Lake Superior), Devil Track River, Caribou River (Minnesota), Baptism River, Knife River (Lake Superior)
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Split Rock River

Split Rock River
The Gitchi-Gami State Trail crossing near the mouth of the Split Rock River
Origin Legler Lake, Silver Creek Township, Lake County, Minnesota
Mouth Lake Superior at Silver Creek Township, Lake County, Minnesota
Basin countries United States
Source elevation 1020[1]
Basin area 40

The Split Rock River is a 3.5-mile-long (5.6 km)[2] river of [3] or to two cliffs east of the river mouth that appear split apart.[4] An indigenous name for the river was Gininwabiho-zibi, meaning "War Eagle Iron River."[4] The river's lower course flows through Split Rock Lighthouse State Park, and the Superior Hiking Trail ascends and descends both banks. There is a separate stream called Split Rock Creek nearby.


The East and West Split Rock River branches arise in wetlands near Legler Lake.[1] The branches join 3.5 miles (5.6 km) upstream from its mouth. Over the next 2 miles (3 km) the river drops 110 feet (34 m) in elevation, then drops 350 feet (110 m) over the next mile. Only in its final mile does the river level out and slow before emptying into Lake Superior.[5]

There are ten waterfalls on the river, although because they can only be reached by a moderate hike on the Superior Hiking Trail they are lightly visited.[6]


From 1899 to 1906 the river basin was logged of its red and white pines. The logging operation included the town of Splitrock, Minnesota at the river mouth and a 10-mile-long (16 km) rail line to carry lumber down to the lakeshore. During the Mataafa Storm of November 28, 1905 seven ships were wrecked within a dozen miles of the Split Rock River, including the steel steamboat William Edenborn right at its mouth. This prompted the construction of the Split Rock Lighthouse on a nearby cliff.[7]


  1. ^ a b "Geographic Names Information System". U.S. Geological Survey. 1980. Retrieved 2010-01-01. 
  2. ^ U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset high-resolution flowline data. The National Map, accessed May 7, 2012
  3. ^ Upham, Warren (2001). Minnesota Place Names: A Geographical Encyclopedia. St Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society Press.  
  4. ^ a b Fritzen, John (1974). Historic Sites and Place Names of Minnesota's North Shore. Duluth, MN: St. Louis County Historical Society. 
  5. ^ Fenton, Howard (1999). 50 Circuit Hikes: A Stride-by-Stride Guide to Northeastern Minnesota. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.  
  6. ^ Johnson, Steve; Belanger, Kenneth (2007). Minnesota Waterfalls. Madison, WI: Trails Books.  
  7. ^ Wolff, Jr., Julius F. (1990). Lake Superior Shipwrecks. Duluth, MN: Lake Superior Port Cities Inc.  
  • Minnesota Watersheds
  • USGS Hydrologic Unit Map - State of Minnesota (1974)

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