Muskegon South Breakwater Light: Rusty Lake Michigan Beacon Will Soon Be Repaired
Back in April we made a trip out to Muskegon to get a look at a freighter (the Kaye E. Barker) that had become stuck on a sandbar trying to enter the channel. We walked out from Pere Marquette Park on the breakwater and got some great photos of the Barker as well as the Wilfred Sykes when it stopped by. We normally view the Muskegon lights from the state park on the other end of the channel, and it had been many years since I had walked out to the Muskegon South Breakwater Light. It was great to see the breakwater had been resurfaced (2020) and repaired, but as we got closer to the lighthouse it was obvious that this iconic red landmark was in need of some love. Peeling paint, spots of rust, and plentiful graffiti covered this 1931 lighthouse. At the start of July it was announced that funds in the 2023 Michigan state budget will help restore and preserve this lighthouse, which is great news!
In a July 1st post from the Michigan House Democrats they noted that they “passed the fiscal year 2023 state budget. Included in the budget are several investments specific to the Greater Muskegon area secured in large part due to the work of state Rep. Terry Sabo (D-Muskegon), making this a very successful budget season for Muskegon County and for Michigan broadly.” Included in this is an “$800,000 investment for the Muskegon South Breakwater Lighthouse. These funds will help finance the replacement of concrete and electrical and rebuild and refortify all steel structures with new guardrails and lighting. This is a big win for Muskegon and the only natural deep-water port on Lake Michigan shoreline.” While it isn’t an immediate fix, this is great news for a lighthouse that had become something of an eyesore for the community in recent years.
The Muskegon South Breakwater Light works with the Muskegon South Pier Light to help guide boats in and out of the Muskegon Channel. The port has seen a lot more traffic from both cruise ships and freighters in recent years, so keeping them both looking sharp and functioning properly is important.
Both lights are owned by the Michigan Lighthouse Conservancy, which currently offers tours of the South Pier Light during summer months. Parking to visit both lights can be found at Margaret Drake Elliott Park or Pere Marquette Park. Check out our post on the Muskegon South Pier Light to see what the view from the inside of the tower looks like!
The Muskegon South Breakwater Light stands 63 feet tall. Its pyramidal tower rests on a 10 foot rectangular base. An LED light sits at the top of the tower, which does not have the traditional lantern room structure that the south pier light does. As you can see from our pictures, the paint needs some work (and contains lead which makes that process longer and more difficult), and the structure itself could definitely use some repairs. We can’t wait to see what this lighthouse looks like in a few years after it is restored to its bright red glory.
Some notes about the freighters we saw during our visit: the Kaye E. Barker is 767 feet long and owned by Interlake Steamship Company. She was stuck for about a day on a sandbar while trying to deliver a load of stone into Muskegon. The Wilfred Sykes is a 678 foot long freighter and is considered one of the last “classic lakers” still in service. The Sykes is a frequent visitor to Grand Haven.