South Haven Lighthouse, Lake Michigan
The South Haven Lighthouse (also know as the South Haven Light or the South Haven South Pierhead Light) is an easily recognized, easy to access landmark in beautiful South Haven, Michigan. This bright red tower sits at the end of a pier where the Black River and Lake Michigan meet. In service since 1903, this lighthouse became the property of the Historical Association of South Haven in 2012. Last July, a special ceremony was held to dedicate the lighthouse after a successful fundraising campaign and years of restoration work.
Like other lighthouse in southwestern Michigan (Holland Harbor, Muskegon South Pierhead, Grand Haven Pier Lights) the South Haven Light is painted red, which helps for daytime visibility for mariners. This tower is very similar in design to the one at Muskegon, though it is about 10 feet shorter. This 35 foot tall steel cylindrical tower is topped with a lantern room that is painted black.
This is one of four Michigan lighthouses that still has a catwalk attached (Manistee North Pierhead, St. Joseph Pier Lights, Grand Haven Pier Lights*). This elevated walkway gave lighthouse keepers a way to get to the beacon when waves were high and crashing over the pier.
In 2012, the Historical Association of South Haven acquired the deed for the lighthouse. After launching a “Save the Light” fundraising campaign they were able to bring in $300,000 and secure a grant for $60,000 from the Michigan Lighthouse Assistance Program. Interior work as well as stripping old paint and repainting the tower were a large part of the restoration work, and in October of 2016 the restored lighthouse was unveiled to the public. A ceremony was held in July 2017 to re-dedicate this historic beacon.
Another great attraction in South Haven is the Michigan Maritime Museum (260 Dyckman Ave.), where “Five separate buildings offer a variety of engaging opportunities for the Museum visitor, including permanent and changing exhibits on Michigan maritime history, a center for the teaching of boatbuilding and related maritime skills, and a regionally renowned research library.” The museum is also home to four boats that offer ours of the river, harbor, and Lake Michigan – the Friends Good Will (sailboat with early 1800s design), Lindy Lou (electric-powered river launch), USCG Motor Lifeboat 36460 (used in the film The Finest Hours), and Bernida, a 1920s racing yacht.
To get to the South Haven Lighthouse from I-196: take the Phoenix St. exit and head west, passing the Blue Star Highway and Broadway St. From Broadway follow it as it becomes Water St. after two blocks and continue on Water St. to its end at South Beach Public Park.
*the catwalk at Grand Haven was removed in the summer of 2016 for pier repairs; a fundraising campaign reached its goal in December 2017 and the catwalk will be re-installed at some point.