January 14, 2016
A historical look at Holland's Big Red Lighthouse
The Holland Harbor Light, more commonly known among Michiganders as “Big Red”, holds a special place in the hearts of Michigan’s residents and is an integral part of the history of Holland. It took decades of requests from the local population before the United States Lighthouse Board recommended building a lighthouse in Holland Harbor, and was subsequently approved by the US Congress in 1870.
(Pictured: A US Coast Gaurd archive photo from 1913)
First erected in 1872, the small wooden structure took a beating from the harsh winter storms on Lake Michigan, but still stood strong until a new building made out of steel was erected in 1907. A steam-powered fog signal was also installed in 1907 to assist with navigation when dense fogs settled over the lake, as they so often do.
(Pictured: Big Red shining through the Fog over Lake Michigan)
The new building was originally painted yellow with a maroon under base, but in 1956, the lighthouse was painted the iconic shade of bright red that we’re so fond of today. The color red was chosen by the Coast Guard to meet regulations relating to aiding with ship navigation, which required that any structure or light on the right side of a harbor must be red.
(Pictured: Big Red looking over a frozen Lake Michigan at sunset)
Today, the lighthouse still stands tall and has become an integral part of the culture in Holland. Painters, photographers, and casual beach-goers come from all over to visit Holland and to see the historic site. It was protected as a historical sight in 2007 by the United States Department of the Interior, the 12th lighthouse in Michigan to gain the unique designation.
You can snag yourself your very own Big Red commemorative tee here. Printed on a super-soft Heather Gray tee, designed and printed right here in Michigan, for Michiganders, by Michiganders.