Coast Guard Station Ludington History

During the mid-1800s, the federal government recognized the need to provide life-saving stations along our nation's coastline. These stations were compromised of volunteers who manned a single surfboat, rowing it out to aid mariners in distress. Around 1854, many of these boats were sent to the Great Lakes, including two for the Manitou Islands. These boats came without any equipment, any funding for buildings or maintenance, or any crews. Each community was required to provide everything necessary to operate these craft. Despite the handicaps, these courageous volunteers saved many lives over the next two decades.

By the 1870s, the need for full time, well-trained lifesaving crews became painfully evident. However well meaning the crews were, it proved impossible to train the crews and maintain the equipment and boats properly. On the Great Lakes alone, there were over 1,100 disasters and 261 lives lost during the 1870-71 season.

In 1874, Congress authorized lifeboat stations to be built at Grand Pt. Au Sable and North Manitou Island. By 1878, liveboat stations were authorized for Manistee, Ludington, and Sleeping Bear Point. Stations at Frankfort and Pentwater were ordered in 1882 and completed in 1887. The Coast Guard has been standing watch for mariners throughout our region ever since.

Life Saving Stations Ludington and Frankfort were both built in 1934, with wooden lifeboats mounted on rails inside the station. As technology progressed and lifeboats became larger and more sophisticated, the boats were kept at the docks near the stations. A new station building was completed and commissioned in April 2004.