South Haven Light
The South Haven Light was built in 1903 and remains an active navigational aid today.
The lightkeeper's residence was built in 1872 and is now the Marialyce Canonie Great Lakes Research Library, which is operated by the Michigan Maritime Museum.
Backstory and Context
To improve the shipping infrastructure, a group of local merchants came together to build two piers at the mouth of the river into the lake. The channel these piers formed was dredged to allow bigger ships to enter. The first sawmill was constructed in 1866, becoming the largest employer in the community. Other businesses and organizations (hotels, stores, bars, churches) began to pop up, attracted by the emerging economic activity.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers extended the piers in 1868 and plans were put in place to install a pierhead beacon and keeper's house. Congress put funding for lighthouses on hold, however, so it wasn't until 1872 that the first lighthouse, made of wood, was built along with a wooden catwalk. By 1901, the piers were built further out and the light was moved to the end. In 1916, a 52-foot steel rear range light was built to further aid navigation into the channel.
Not surprisingly, the wooden light structure deteriorated as a result of exposure to years of exposure to the elements. This prompted the construction of the current light in 1903. Then in 1913, the piers were once again extended to their current length and the light was relocated once more. The tower was eventually torn down in the 1960s and the wooden catwalk replaced by the current metal one.
Pepper, Terry. "South Haven Pier Light." Seeing The Light. Accessed December 6, 2018. http://www.terrypepper.com/lights/michigan/southaven/southaven.htm.
Photos: Wikimedia Commons