South Haven South Pier Light
In 1861 the first piers appeared on the north and south side of the entrance to the Black River. The channel between the piers was dredged to allow access to larger ships. In 1867 the piers were extended and the channel was widened which allowed a greater depth to be maintained.
In 1886, plans were developed to build a pierhead beacon at the end of the pier and a keepers dwelling on a bluff near the shore. In 1872, the original South Haven light was completed. The wooden structure was thirty feet tall. An elevated storage room took up the entire first floor and above it was an octagonal cast iron lantern. The storage room contained supplies to maintain the light and was also used as a place of shelter when the keepers worked on the light. A 75 foot wooden walkway was added above the wave line from the shore to the storage room. The keepers could use this walkway to safely get to the tower when the Lake Michigan waves came crashing over the pier.
Channel dredging continued and the pier was again extended. In 1901, the wooden tower was moved 249 feet to the end of the pier. In 1902, a Firth Order Fresnel lens was installed in the lantern room of the tower. In 1903, the wooden tower was replaced with a round, white steel structure to protect it from the weather and was topped by a black parapet and octagonal lantern room. The Fifth Order Fresnel lens was carefully removed from the old beacon and moved to the new lantern room.
In 1913, the piers were extended once more, and the tower was moved 425 feet to a new location at the end of the pier. In 1916, a fifty-two foot tall steel range tower was built on the pier some 800 feet inward from the pierhead light. Later the range tower was removed. The elevated wooden walkway was replaced with an iron catwalk and the steel tower was painted red.
The area surrounding the pier has been set aside as a public park with a picnic area, playground and concessions stand.
Directions: From I-196 take exit 20 and follow Business Route 196 (Phoenix Street) west about one mile to where BR-196 turns left (south) onto Broadway Street. Continue straight ahead (west) on Phoenix (which changes to Water Street) about 7 blocks to the south beach parking area. The south pier light is to the right of the parking area.