St. Joseph North Pierhead Lights

1832 original light on bluff / 1886 inner tower on pier / 1907 outer tower on pier


National Archives Photo
(Land Light)
Historical Collections of the Great Lakes Photo
(inner Pier Light)

(both Pier Lights)


This light and the Chicago Harbor Light were the first lights commissioned on Lake Michigan, although St. Joseph was not actually put into operation until some 14 years later.

LOCATION: St. Joseph River Entrance, SE side of Lake Michigan

CURRENT TOWER LIT: Outer tower --- 1907 / Inner tower --- 1906

CURRENT USE: Active aid to navigation


DEACTIVATED: The first light built on the bluff overlooking the lake was deactivated in 1924 and used as the local headquarters for the American Red Cross. Then in 1954 it was sold to the city of St. Joseph who, despite the public outcry of preservationists, torn it down in 1955 to make way for a parking lot.


LIGHTHOUSE MATERIALS: Cast iron and steel

TOWER SHAPE: Outer tower --- Cylindrical / Inner tower --- Octagonal on square house

COLOR(S)/MARKINGS/PATTERN: White and red with black lantern

ORIGINAL LENS: Outer tower --- Fourth Order, Fresnel 1907 / Inner tower --- Fifth Order, Fresnel

NEAT CHARACTERISTICS: Beautiful catwalk extends over 300 yards out from the shore to the outer light.
One of only four Michigan lights with a catwalk --- the other three are South Haven, Grand Haven, and Manistee.
One of the few remaining pier range light systems on the Great Lakes.