South Haven Light

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South Haven Light
South Haven Lighthouse MS.jpg
South Pierhead Light
South Haven Light is located in Michigan
South Haven Light
Location South Haven, Michigan
Coordinates 42°24′08″N 86°17′04″W / 42.40222°N 86.28444°W / 42.40222; -86.28444Coordinates: 42°24′08″N 86°17′04″W / 42.40222°N 86.28444°W / 42.40222; -86.28444
Year first lit 1903
Foundation Pier
Construction Cast iron[1]
Tower shape Cylindrical w/catwalk
Markings / pattern red/black lantern, parapet and markings
Height 35 feet (11 m)
Focal height 37 feet (11 m)[2]
Original lens Fifth order Fresnel lens
Current lens Sixth order Fresnel lens
Range 13 nautical miles (24 km; 15 mi)[3]
Characteristic Fl R 4 seconds[3]
Fog signal

HORN: 2 blast ev 30s (2s bl-

2s si-2s bl-24s si). Diaphone.[3]
ARLHS number USA-772
USCG number


Navigation Structures at South Haven Harbor, Michigan
NRHP reference # 95001160[4]
Added to NRHP October 23, 1995
Heritage place listed on the National Register of Historic Places Edit this on Wikidata

The South Haven South Pierhead Light is a lighthouse in Michigan, at the entrance to the Black River on Lake Michigan. The station was lit in 1872, and is still operational. The tower is a shortened version of the Muskegon South Pierhead Light, and replaced an 1872 wooden tower. The catwalk is original and still links the tower to shore: it is one of only four that survive in the State of Michigan.[5]


The keeper's house is on shore, 2-​12 stories tall, wood with a hipped-roof. It was also built in 1872, and is located at 91 Michigan Avenue onshore, was transferred to the city for preservation in 2000. The Michigan Maritime Museum has renovated the keeper's house as the Marialyce Canonie Great Lakes Research Library.[6]

A Fifth order Fresnel lens manufactured by Parisian glass makers Barbier and Fenestre was installed in the lantern.

The current tower was designed by Eleventh District engineer James G. Warren.[7]

The U.S. Lighthouse Service elected to tear down the wooden lighthouse and replace it. On October 6, 1903 ten workers arrived on the USLHS tender Hyacinth and began the project. It took a little more than a month to complete the project. According to The Daily Tribune (October 14, 1903) the lantern room was brought from Muskegon, Michigan where it had spent forty years on duty.[8]

In 1913, the location was deemed unsatisfactory, and the cast iron lighthouse was moved 425 feet (130 m) to the end of the pier.[8]

In 1999, Lighthouse Digest published an extensive article on the light, filled with interesting anecdotes and ephemera.[8]


In 2005 this museum reported it was "in the process" of acquiring the lighthouse. It is accessible to the public, and located on the south pier at the mouth of the Black River, at the end of Water Street.[9] Located at the end of the pier at the foot of Water Street in South Haven. One can get there by walking the pier after parking in the nearby city park. The site is open, but the tower is closed (except for open house during the city's mid-June Harborfest).[6]

1872 Lightkeeper's dwelling, looking towards Lake Michigan
The Light in December 2010

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Michigan Lighthouse Conservancy, South Haven Light.
  2. ^ Pepper, Terry. "Seeing the Light: Lighthouses on the western Great Lakes".
  3. ^ a b c Light List, Volume VII, Great Lakes (PDF). Light List. United States Coast Guard.
  4. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13.
  5. ^ National Park Service, National Maritime Heritage Program, Inventory of Historic Lights, Manistee North Pier.
  6. ^ a b Rowlett, Russ. "Lighthouses of the United States: Michigan's Western Lower Peninsula". The Lighthouse Directory. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  7. ^ Terry Pepper, Seeing the Light, South Haven Pier Light.
  8. ^ a b c Harrison, Timothy, South Haven Lights...Pages From Their Past, Lighthouse Digest, October, 1999.
  9. ^ Wobser, David and Petill, Jerry, South Haven Light, Boatnerd

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

U.S. Coast Guard Archive