The Split Rock Lighthouse was built in 1910, in response to a 1905 storm that sank or damaged 29 ships on Lake Superior. the lens is a marvel of engineering. A third-order Fresnel, the complexity of its design meant it had to be purchased and imported from France.

The lens pedestal sat on a cushion of liquid mercury, allowing tons of glass and metal almost frictionless motion. The rotation of the lens was based on a clockwork that only needed to be wound every two hours by the lighthouse keepers.

The lighthouse is a miracle of architecture, engineering, optics, and (if you count the foghorn) acoustics. It was designed, built, implemented, and lit within 5 years, including the time it took to source specialized material from halfway across the world.

Rember this whenever someone tells you that government can’t work. It can work when it’s allowed to.

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