Split Rock Lighthouse's longest-serving keeper retiring

Lee Radzak has been on the job since 1982.
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It's the end of an era at the North Shore's most iconic tourist destination.

Lee Radzak, the main custodian of the Split Rock Lighthouse for 36 years, is retiring.

It's not just a long tenure, but the longest tenure of any lighthouse keeper at the historic site. He and his wife Jane have lived on the grounds since 1982. 

"The couple easily holds the record for the longest residents (sic) at Split Rock Lighthouse in its nearly 110-year history," a Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS) news release says. 

Radzak started at Split Rock after spending six years as a MNHS archaeologist, and has overseen "some the biggest achievements in the site’s last 40 years."

That includes the construction of a visitor center in 1986, the centennial celebration in 2010, and in 2011, the naming of the lighthouse as a National Historic Landmark — "a process that took several years to complete," MNHS says. 

And his service has not gone unnoticed. He's received a number of civic awards for his work, including the 2014 Lake Superior Magazine Achievement Award and the American Lighthouse Council’s lifetime achievement award.

He plans to officially step down in April, the Duluth News Tribune says. 

"It's been a nice commute, just a couple hundred-foot walk to work every day," Radzak told the paper, adding, "the flip side is that you never get away from it."

Split Rock Lighthouse is located north of Two Harbors on the Superior North Shore.

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