Holland Harbor Light

Holland, Michigan | C.1872

Photo Credit: Hailey Jansson

The Holland Harbor Light, known as “Big Red”, is located in Ottawa County, Michigan at the entrance of a channel connecting Lake Michigan with Lake Macatawa, and which gives access to the city of Holland, Michigan.

In 1870 after decades of local requests that went unanswered, the United States Lighthouse Board finally recommended construction of the first light at Holland Harbor. It was thereupon approved by the U.S. Congress.

The first lighthouse built at this location was a small, square wooden structure erected in 1872. In 1880 the lighthouse service installed a new light atop a metal pole in a protective cage – the oil lantern was lowered by pulleys for service.

At the turn of the century, a steel tower was built for the light and in 1907 the present structure was erected. Named the Holland Harbor South Pierhead Lighthouse, it has a gabled roof that reflects the Dutch influence in the area.

The lighthouse, popularly referred to as “Big Red,” was automated in 1932. When the U. S. Coast Guard recommended that it be abandoned in 1970, citizens circulated petitions to rescue it. The Holland Harbor Lighthouse Historical Commission was then organized to preserve and restore this landmark.

In 2007, the United States Department of the Interior announced that the Holland Harbor Light would be protected, making it the 12th Michigan lighthouse to have such status.

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