Though Split Rock Lighthouse closed in 1969, each November 10th its beacon is lit to honor the crew and commemorate the sinking of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald and all other vessels lost on the Great Lakes.

The Edmund Fitzgerald sank in Canadian Lake Superior waters in 1975, the largest ship to sink in the Great Lakes. Many people are familiar with the tragedy through Gordon Lightfoot’s “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” a US Billboard hit in 1976. In addition to the Edmund Fitzgerald, it is estimated that Lake Superior is the resting place of at least 350 ships, at least half of which are undiscovered and about 50 are presumed to be within Minnesota waters. Shipwrecks deep in Lake Superior degrade slowly due to near-freezing temperatures and lack of bacteria.

Lottery dollars, through the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, have helped the Minnesota Historical Society find, interpret, preserve, and manage underwater and shoreline cultural resources such as vessels in Lake Superior. Lottery dollars also help ensure that findings on the maritime legacy deep in the lake are easily accessible.

These efforts are aided by the 1988 Abandoned Shipwrecks Act that transfers titles to shipwrecks to the U.S. state in whose waters the ships lie, thus protecting and preserving underwater cultural resources from adventurers and unauthorized treasure hunters and salvagers.

The Minnesota Historical Society website lists notable wrecks of Lake Superior along with their historical significance. You’ll find a scow schooner built in 1887 that was more typical of those used in New Zealand, a 1902 wreck that caused a change in harbor rules, and two ships that came to rest on a shore of Lake Superior in 1905 and were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1994, among others.

When you play the lottery, you support research and projects that enhance the quality of life in Minnesota. Click here to learn more about how lottery dollars support our great state.