Coast Guard Station Manistee History

During the centennial year of 1876, the United States Life Saving Service, a portion of the modern Coast Guard, began operating on the Great Lakes. In response to a rash of fatal disasters in the 1870s, Congress appropriated $200,000 in funds and called for the establishment of paid crews, new stations, and the care and maintenance of equipment throughout the Great Lakes.

In the spring of 1879, when Life Saving Station Manistee first opened its doors, the harbor was rated second only to Calumet Harbor in Chicago in commercial tonnage traffic on Lake Michigan. As lumber and other industries developed along lake Michigan, the Port of Manistee was a logical choice for the creation of a Life Saving Station.

For 127 years Station Manistee has responded to the needs of the local citizens, merchant traffic, and visitors. Station Manistee has served as a station small, a parent unit to the adjacent stations in Ludington and Frankfort, and is now a full station within the Sector Lake Michigan area od responsibility.

By the late 1900s, government cost cutting was in full force and Station Manistee was in danger of being closed. The community rallied around and formed the "Save Our Station" movement to lobby and promote the need for the presence of the U.S. Coast Guard in Manistee. The action was successful thanks to the support given by the community and state officials.

In 2005, the crew of Station Manistee moved into a new 14,000 square foot facility, which includes a full communications center, crew berthing, moorings for the boats, and a large boat bay with the ability to haul the station's 47' Motor Life Boat on site. The original station building has been moved twice within the city limits and is now a family home.