NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory

The latest news and information about NOAA research in and around the Great Lakes

Happy Birthday to the U.S. Coast Guard – Our Nearest Neighbors in Muskegon

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Today we would like to wish a Happy 226th Birthday to the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), with special congratulations to USCG Station Muskegon, our next door neighbors at the Lake Michigan Field Station (LMFS).


A modern-day satellite view of the GLERL Lake Michigan Field Station (blue) and the U.S. Coast Guard Station Muskegon (red) facilities. The dark area to the top left is the channel that connects Muskegon Lake (to the right) to Lake Michigan (to the left).

The original U.S. Life Saving Service station was built in 1879 on the north side of the Grand River, with headquarters located about 45 miles southward down the shoreline in Grand Haven. Twenty years later—running the risk of being washed away—the original structure was rebuilt on land that was acquired on the south side of the harbor (between Muskegon Lake and Lake Michigan) where a new station was built between 1904 to 1907.  It is this location at which NOAA assumed ownership of the building from the U.S. Coast Guard in 1990 and where GLERL’s Lake Michigan Field Station stands to this day, as a home for GLERL’s research scientist and staff. The U.S Coast Guard has since built a new facility right next door.

The GLERL field station’s site now includes three buildings, with research vessel dockage next to the main building. Its proximity to Lake Michigan provides support for long-term observations, field work, and experiments that are essential for understanding ecological issues in the Great Lakes and coastal areas.


GLERL’s Lake Michigan Field Station from right to left:”Building 1″ is the former main building for the USGC Station Muskegon. It is now GLERL office space housing the marine superintendent and scientists stationed at LMFS. It also contains a lab area that is used mainly for analyzing fish samples. “Building 2” is for vessel operators who oversee the maintenance and underway periods for vessels. “Building 3” is primarily a laboratory, but it also has a small office space. The U.S. Coast Guard Station Muskegon, and its vessel, can be seen on the left.

We have a strong partnership with the Coast Guard that goes well beyond the comfort of knowing they are close by if we ever run into trouble with one of our research vessels.  Our models and observing systems inform Coast Guard search and rescue missions, we provide scientific and logistical support for Great Lakes spill drills, and we also share resources for engaging with the community.

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For more on the history of Lake Michigan Coast Guard stations (and some really cool photos) check out the July 25 M-Live article.

Here is a little more history on the LMFS and some of our own photos as well.

And last, but certainly not least, check out this awesome vintage video clip, originally produced by the Ford Motor Company in 1915, entitled: “Heroes of the Coast Guard,” which features a ton of great footage from the early 1900’s.

#DidYouNOAA: GLERL’s Lake Michigan Field Station is the oldest building owned by NOAA?!

One thought on “Happy Birthday to the U.S. Coast Guard – Our Nearest Neighbors in Muskegon

  1. Well written! Interesting read.


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