Why is it named Coast Guard Park?

Candy of Spring Lake asked, "I'm fairly new to the area, and wonder why that park in Ferrysburg is called Coast Guard Park. There's no water in or near it."
Mark Brooky
Mar 4, 2013



The U.S. Coast Guard used the area where today's dog park exists at the northwestern part of the park as a shooting range from the late 1930s until 1970. There's probably bullets and shells still buried in the ground.

In his local history book, "Grand Haven in the Path of Destiny," Dr. Dave Seibold explained that, during World War II, the Coast Guard purchased 80 acres adjacent to the rifle range to make it bigger.

In December 1972, two years after the rifle range was closed, Ferrysburg officials applied for the federal land to be transferred to the city. That was approved just a couple of months later. The city crafted a master plan for the park in 1979 and dedicated it as Coast Guard Park during the 1989 Coast Guard Festival.

The little tower at the entrance to the park from North Shore Road is the old north pier light No. 1, according to Seibold. It was in operation on the north side of the mouth of the Grand River from 1921 to 1985.

Do you have a question for the Tribune? E-mail it to news@grandhaventribune.com, and type MAILBAG in the subject line. Or mail it the old-fashioned way to: Grand Haven Tribune, MAILBAG, 101 N. Third St., Grand Haven, MI 49417. We'll do our best to get you an answer! A new Mailbag appears on grandhaventribune.com at 5 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.


Grand Haven Happy

How well I/we knew what is now Coast Guard Park in Ferrysburg. When we were kids from about 5th grade on for several years we would ride our bikes from Grand Haven over the swing bridge to the Coast Guard Rifle Range and dig in the hill behind the targets to get the bullets. Why? because they were lead inside the metal jacket! We'd build a big wood fire and melt the lead out of their metal jackets because we'd get 8 cents a pound at Weaver's junkyard for the pure lead and as you know, lead is very heavy and the pounds counted up fast.

$2-$3 dollars each for a days fun time getting the lead out (pun intended) was a lot of money in the 1950's especially for kids our age. After all, standing and transplanting celery baby plants only paid 6 cents an hour and it got old very fast being inside the hot houses during the summer.

I made a small 2 wheel trailer that hooked on the the bike seat stem and I carried the lead back over the bridge to Weaver's then we split up the cash. Probably should have stayed in the junk/scrap metal venture as we all know rhat Louie Padnos sure did just fine+ but that's not what interested me as I wanted to do automotive engineering and tooling and that's just what I did for nearly 40 years. Now long retired!

Yes, we did have permission from the Coast Guard in Grand Haven to dig up the bullets but we sure didn't get them all. It was everywhere and every year they replentished our supply with their rifle practices. You could dig up more than you could carry in less than half an hour but the melting took all afternoon and we had to be at Weavers before 5:30 when they closed to get our money.

Very fun times and lots of memories.


Cool story, thanks for sharing it, reminds me a bit of my own childhood. Sure makes one realize how much things have changed from back then to now...if kids nowadays tried to do what you kids did back then they'd be more than likely arrested and charged with any number of crimes up to and probably including potential terrorism. Lord help 'em if they were to bring a discovered bullet into school for show and tell...


Awesome story! This is the type of stuff I like to read in the paper; a little slice of history from some random persons viewpoint. I find this stuff very interesting and wish more people would share similar stories.


Btw, I forgot to say thanks for sharing.

I would like to share a site that has TONS of historic photos showing stuff like GH Happy talked about. http://www.shorpy.com/ there's also a few photos of grand haven and surrounding areas if you use the search box.


Cool sight, thanks for the link.


Mr. Brooky, how can you be professionally satisfied with being the Mailbag Editor? Surely there is a real journalism job out there for you. Nowhere is the downfall of newspapers more evident than in the Grand Haven Tribune, especially the Mailbag column. What a waste of space, ink and human effort.

Grand Haven Happy

Unreprenented, may you always stay unrepresented because you are a total moron as your writing clearly shows. Maybe someday if and when you grow up and get some edga-ma-ka-shun you could possibility advance to the grade of an idiot. Shame on you!

Many readers enjoy Mark Brooky's Mailbag. However, if you don't, just stop reading it and go back in your dark lonely cave where you belong!

Good job Mark!


GH Happy: Ouch. You don't seem so happy to me. But you're probably happier now that you called me and idiot and a moron. It's easy calling people names when your identity is not revealed, eh? I guess people like GH Happy aren't happy unless they call people names while staying anonymous.

Grand Haven Happy


I'm very happy and so is my family. I've/we've been an extremely happy resident of Grand Haven for over 70 years now and my parents etc for over 100 years. My thanks to the fine education I received at the Grand Haven schools which sent me on my way to a very happy and prosperous adult life. They had planted the seed and it was up to me to feed and water it or it would have been a wasted education. That same process is still alive and well for any and all who actually participate. We had children in the GH schools, grandchildren, and now have great grandchildren in the same GH schools and they are also thrilled to get their educations here and say so constantly. You must participate instead of complaining if you want to be happy as a community is not a baby sitter.

We could live anywhere we want to and have traveled extensively all over the country and other parts of the world and see what other places have to offer. Having had those hands on experiences, we wouldn't ever leave the Grand Haven area as it has so much more to offer and it's you the person who has to venture out and join in to enjoy your surroundings and be a part of your community or you'll never know. A community isn't there to entertain or cuddle you as you are there to be an active participant in making the community work to it's finest and see the happiness that surrounds you. Grand Haven area has mastered this method of success. The GH tribune and the 3 radio stations are a big part and also always display an active part in our communities success. This is one of the many reasons why every community rating survey and rating system consistently rates our area and schools in the top to the very top in the entire USA.

You need to do some research and learn a few things and find out what is really here compared to other areas and you just might be happy also. Alas, your eyes just may be finally opened!

Grand Haven Happy


Thanks, I hear you. One big difference is that we never did distructive things and there was no idiot box (TV) on constantly to poison our minds, no electronic devices or games, were taught by our parents to be respectful of everyone and everything, get permission before doing things, be home at dinnertime or go hungry, be in the house after dark and go to bed before 9PM and we did. We weren't perfect but we behaved because believe it or not, REAL spankings and/or taking our bikes and/or priviledges away would await us and we knew it. Now the punishments are at most a slap on the wrist or less for doing the forbidden so why follow the rules of good behavior. It's doesn't happen this way for every child today but you sure can tell which ones rule their parents and notice how most of them have turned out in their adult life. Depressing and a dirty shame and the community is left to deal with these misfits and "WE" don't like it? Hey, it's the parents who by and large had created this monster thru their actions or lack of actions in the first place! DUH!


"The U.S. Coast Guard used the area where today's dog park exists at the northwestern part of the park as a shooting range from the late 1930s until 1970. There's probably bullets and shells still buried in the ground."
Well, I suspect if you go dig around for bullets there now, you might get more than just lead in your sifter.

Grand Haven Happy


That's funny and so true. We used to throw the shell casings we found away before they started to reload them and told us not to. They were a good grade of brass and brass only got us 2 cents a pound back then and it took a lot of them to make a pound so they took up a lot of space in my trailer. The melted lead on the otherhand took up very little space for 100 lbs which was about all I could handle when peddling my skinny tired English Bike and trailer all the way across the bridge to Weavers. We probably would have quit digging the bullets out if we'd have constanly run into those brown sausages you'd mentioned.


This is proof that Mailbag is pointless drivel.

Grand Haven Happy

Then WHY do you keep on reading it, Unrepresented? Unsmart!


Grand Haven Happy.....6 Unrepresented.....0 "There's no water in or near it." hmmm' Apparently Candy, you have not yet driven a 1/2 mile more due West and witness a bazillion acres of our fresh water lake then, 1 more mile due South to our Coast Guard Station and catwalk pier history. Summin' tells me that your question is a prelude to a different agenda not friendly to our Coast Guard or military in general. hmm' If not then, I'll be the first to stand corrected. Welcome to the Tri-Cities, Candy!


Post a Comment

Log in to your account to post comments here and on other stories, galleries and polls. Share your thoughts and reply to comments posted by others. Don't have an account on GrandHavenTribune.com? Create a new account today to get started.