Lighthouse Friends says that the entrance to the Grand River in Grand Haven was originally marked by a tower near the south side , but that lighthouse was destroyed in a storm during the night of December 17, 1852. A second lighthouse was built in 1855 on a bluff overlooking the river and this light served until the pier lights were completed in 1905.
Terry Pepper’s Seeing the Light has some historical information about the Grand Haven Pier Lights but unfortunately none of the great historical photos that make his site the bomb for Great Lakes Lighthouses. Terry does have some appropriate information about the distinctive catwalks:
Over the years, there were numerous renovations to both the lights and pier. In 1921, the pole that supports the flasher on the north pier was installed, and in 1922, the cast iron catwalk was installed to allow safe access to the tower and fog signal during storms. The original wooden pier facing on the pier was replaced with 900 tons of steel sheet pilings in 1954. A less welcome change in 1969 was the replacement of the old diaphone fog signal with a higher-pitched, and less romantic whistle.
In 1986, the Coast Guard became concerned that someone would become injured on the deteriorating catwalks, and scheduled for their demolition in June of 1987. Edward J. Zenko and his daughter Terry headed a group of volunteers calling themselves the “Save the Catwalk Committee,” and raised $133,000 to remove the wooden planks which formed the walkway, reinforce the iron supports, and install lights along the full length of the pier. Thus the catwalk was saved, and the lights illuminated for the first time on November 25, 1988. In all, $91,000 was spent on the improvements, with the remainder invested to provide sufficient income to meet ongoing maintenance costs. Sadly, Zenko died on December 31 1987, and never saw the fruits of his labor of love.
You can look in on the lighthouse and weather conditions via the Grand Haven Steelheaders Live Webcam. Some good links for the light can be found at Grand Haven Light on Wikipedia. The pier light has been deemed in excess by the Coast Guard and is being offered to eligible entities under the the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act.
Be sure to check this out bigger and also check out the rest of the photos in Dennis’s 9.28.09 Grand Haven Storm set (slideshow). You might also enjoy the Grand Haven Light slideshow from the Absolute Michigan pool!