Split Rock Lighthouse, one of the most picturesque lighthouses in the United States, is located on a 127-foot-high cliff on the northwest shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota. By the late 1960s, the Coast Guard deemed the lighthouse obsolete and it was discontinued as an official aid.
Today the light station is the centerpiece of Split Rock Lighthouse State Park, operated by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The Minnesota Historical Society administers the 25-acre historic lighthouse site. The station has been restored to its early 1920s appearance, and the site is operated as a living museum.
Lee Radzak became the lighthouse site manager in November 1982. Lee and his family ended up spending almost 37 years living at the light station —one of the longest stints for any modern-day keeper anywhere in the United States. When he retired, an extensive search for a new site manager led to the hiring of Hayes Scriven, who moved to the site with his wife, Jenny, and their two children in late 2019. In this interview, Lee and Hayes compare notes on life at one of America’s most iconic light stations.
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Jeremy D’Entremont is the author of more than 20 books and hundreds of articles on lighthouses and maritime history. He is the president and historian for the American Lighthouse Foundation and founder of Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouses, and he has lectured and narrated cruises throughout the Northeast and in other regions. He is also the producer and host of the U.S. Lighthouse Society podcast, “Light Hearted.” He can be emailed at Jeremy@uslhs.org
2 thoughts on “Light Hearted ep 77 – Lee Radzak and Hayes Scriven; Split Rock Light Station, Minnesota”
Jeremy, this is a valuable episode of a changing of the guard at Minnesota’s Split Rock Lighthouse. The interview contains valuable information from Hayes Scriven on adapting not only to a new job but to constraints due to the pandemic. And of course, recognizing Lee Radzak for his past accomplishments and as a valuable resource going forward as counsel. I cannot emphasize enough the differences in management practices between historic lighthouse sites and the many changes needed to adapt to the pandemic and a more volatile social environment. The variables under which we all operate are many and quite varied. But the lighthouse histories and dedication of people like Hayes and Lee link us all together, like the keepers of old.
Thanks so much for your comment, Don! It can’t be said any better. People like you and Lee Radzak have been adding important chapters to our lighthouse history, and Hayes Scriven is creating another one. Important and interesting lighthouse history didn’t end with the automation of lighthouses, and I’m happy to have had the opportunity to have recorded some of that history through podcast interviews with and Lee.