Monday, December 5, 2011

Featured Lighthouse #2- South Haven South Pierhead Lighthouse

The original 37-foot wooden tower was two stories tall. The lower level was used for storage. The upper level housed the lens and a fifth order lamp which ran on mineral oil. The current tower was reconstructed of steel in 1903. It now measures 12' in diameter at the base and stands 35' tall. The ship, Hyacinth, transported the steel structure and U.S. Lighthouse Establishment workers built the light. It eventually was electrified in 1923, utilizing a 200 watt bulb.

The pier itself has undergone several transformations over the years. The originally wood structure measured 300 feet in length. The pier was rebuilt twice, once in 1888 and again in 1889. In 1913, it was extended 425 feet, making the wooden structure more than 700 feet in length. In 1925, 800 feet of steel elevated walkway was taken from the Calumet station, brought to South Haven and reinstalled on the pier. Then in 1940, today's 1200-foot concrete pier was constructed. 

Together, the lighthouse and its pier have taken the concept of aging gracefully to new heights.No one knows when the first fog signal was used in South Haven. A 1900 account cites the use of a bellows-style operated by hand. In 1913, the fog signal was replaced by a 1600-pound electrified fog bell. It remained in use until 1937 when a drone-type fog horn was installed. It could be heard seven to 15 miles away, depending on the weather.
The South Pierhead lighthouse is open for public tours one weekend each year, during the annual Harborfest -- always the third weekend in June. There is no cost to tour the lighthouse.

To pre-order your very own copy of the 2011-2012 Lake Michigan Circle Tour and Lighthouse Map- Follow this link!

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