Kalamazoo River Lighthouse (Replica), Allegan County
Lighthouses continue to be popular tourist destinations, and Michigan is home to more than 120 different beacons. As we have traveled the state trying to see all of them, we’ve also found some of the newer lighthouses like the Gladstone Lighthouse (2010), Wawatam Lighthouse (2006), and the Robert Manning Memorial Light (1990). While these lighthouses were not built to be aids to navigation in the traditional sense, some do serve in that purpose and all three have become great additions to their lakeshore communities. The Kalamazoo River Lighthouse replica in Douglas is another newer addition among the state’s lighthouses, and it is built to look like a structure that stood a few miles from its current location from 1859-1956.
A lighthouse was first constructed where the Kalamazoo River empties into Lake Michigan in the late 1830s, though erosion forced a second one to be built in 1859. Pier lights replaced that structure in the 1870s. In 1892 a vessel collided with the pierhead tower and the 1859 lighthouse was called back into service. Things changed again in 1906 when a new entrance to the river was put in a mile north of the lighthouse. Years of sand and wind eventually closed off the river entrance the Kalamazoo River Lighthouse had been constructed to mark, and then in 1956 a tornado destroyed the structure completely. You can learn about the history of this lighthouse and the entire area at the Pump House Museum (735 Park St.).
The replica Kalamazoo River Lighthouse was built in 2002. The one and a half story dwelling is painted red and white, and its tower is 30 feet tall. It is not an active aid to navigation and it is located near the Tower Marine marina.
The first time we visited this lighthouse, the SS Keewatin passenger liner was docked next to it and operated as a museum ship. The beautiful 336.5 foot long vessel had served for almost 60 years in Canada before it was purchased and relocated here. In 2012, the Keewatin was purchased by a group in Ontario and was towed back to Port McNicoll where it has experienced some ups and downs as a museum ship in its former home port. You can find out more about it at https://sskeewatin.com/.