Tacy’s Lighthouse Report

April 20, 2008 at 7:17 pm Leave a comment

Holland Harbor South Pierhead Light

Michigan’s lighthouses have played an important role in the history of the Great Lakes. Every lighthouse is unique in its own special way, and all are dependable to steer ships away from rocky shoals. There are over 100 lighthouses in Michigan that help save lives. One of these is the Holland Harbor South Pierhead Light. With its important location, interesting description, memorable history, and helpful light, Holland Harbor Light is one of a kind.

The Holland Harbor South Pierhead Light is located on Lake Macatawa and Lake Michigan in the waters near the city of Holland, Michigan. The light station’s structure was built specifically in its location to guide larger ships and give them access to Lake Macatawa as they entered from Lake Michigan. With a latitude of 42º 46′ 57″ N and a longitude of 86º 12′ 57″ W, the Holland Lighthouse is located on the southeast shore of Lake Michigan. To visit the Holland Lighthouse, take US31 into the city of Holland.

Along with its strategic location, the Holland Harbor Light has distinctive physical characteristics. The beautiful light station is made from wood and brick in the shape of a red square. It is a Twin Gable architectural style. The Holland light station is 32 feet tall, which is about two stories. With both the tower and the dwelling painted red, this beacon of light stands apart from all others.

The history of the Holland Light is just as interesting as its looks. It was built in 1907 by an Army Corps of Engineers work crew. This light station was built so that the community would grow. The Lighthouse Board recommended the establishment, but Mr. Poe, the engineer, approved the idea. In 1870, Congress agreed to pay $16,000 for this light. There were three light keepers in the years before automation, and the first was Melgert Van Regenmorter. Joseph Boshka followed in 1911 and Captain William Robinson took care of the light in 1940. The light keepers had many duties. They had to take care of the fog signal engines, fuel and oil the engines, and make sure the light was lit all night. That was the most important job of a light keeper.

Even though the lighthouse itself had very few changes, the Holland light has had quite a few. The visibility of the light increased from 9 ¾ miles to 13 miles, and the range of the light is 5 miles. A horn sounds one blast every 30 seconds. A flashing red light blinks every four seconds and was automated in 1907, but the Holland lights were electrified in 1932. The fuel first used to keep it lit was a 150 candlepower lamp. The fuel didn’t stay the same though. It made a huge jump from a 150 lamp to a 5,000 candlepower lamp. The tower was first lit with an iron lantern, but that changed also. It started with a fixed 5th Order Fresnel Lens, but it 1907 it changed to a fixed 4th Order Fresnel Lens.

Although the Holland Harbor Light is not open to the public, her light still burns today. It is still in use, and thanks to the United States Coast Guard, it is in great condition. The Coast Guard is not only restoring the light station, they also own it. They funding is raised by the Holland Harbor Lighthouse Commission which was formed in 1974 to help preserve this important piece of history.

Though it has been restored, the Holland Harbor South Pierhead Light is still in danger of falling apart. The United States Coast Guard and the Holland Harbor Lighthouse Commission are doing all they can to help save this light station, but they can’t do everything. I would like to visit this lighthouse because I think it would be a wonderful experience. It may not be for a while, so I hope to see it still in good condition. In the future, the Holland Harbor South Pierhead Light may need our help. Many people are working to save her; shouldn’t we help save one of “America’s Castles” too?



Entry filed under: Tacy.

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April 2008

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