Lights out?

Mark Brooky • Jul 21, 2015 at 12:10 PM


Bob sent his question by e-mail on Tuesday, so it's been all about a week that he's noticed the lights out.

"We blew a breaker last week and have not been able to get out there until today because of the weather," Grand Haven Facilities Manager Dan Vivian explained Wednesday. "They should be back to full operation by the end of the day."

There's some interesting history behind the catwalk lights.

When the lighthouse and foghorn were automated in December 1969, the catwalk atop the south pier became obsolete and was targeted for removal. But the locals at the time urged the city to petition the federal agencies that oversee the lights and pier, the Coast Guard and Army Corps of Engineers, to put the demolition on hold.

In the meantime, Ed Zenko led a group that crafted replicas of a masthead light salvaged from the Coast Guard cutter Escanaba (the one that was lost during World War II), according to Dr. Dave Seibold in his local history tome, "Grand Haven in the Path of Destiny." With permission, 120 of the lights were installed along the catwalk (in pairs) and the boardwalk.

Ed died in December 1987. His daughter, Terry, took over as the group's leader and was there when the lights were first lit on Nov. 25, 1988.

"It's a beautiful, melancholy link with the port's heritage," Seibold notes, "a nostalgic Escanaba welcome to Coast Guard City USA."

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