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The Michigan-based Saginaw River Marine Historical Society (SRMHS) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and has members from Bay City, Saginaw, Midland and beyond! The SRMHS is an all volunteer organization interested in the maritime history of the Saginaw River (and its connecting waters), including the more than 650 commercial vessels that were built on the Saginaw River and around Saginaw Bay (of Lake Huron). At one time there were a half-dozen larger (and many more smaller ones) shipyards turning out schooners, freighters and passenger ships.


The original lighthouse at the mouth of the Saginaw River was named Saginaw Bay Lighthouse, with a tower of 65 feet in height. Saginaw Bay Lighthouse was activated in September 1841 and replaced by the Saginaw River (Front and Rear) Range Lights, that were lit for the first time on September 15, 1876. The focal plane of Saginaw River Rear Range is 61 feet above lake level, and the second Saginaw River Front Range Light (built in 1915) was made of steel and its focal plane was 39 feet above lake level. (The tower of the first Saginaw River Front Range Light, built in 1876, was made of wood and the focal plane was 37 feet above lake level.) Circa 1963, a new shipping channel with a more direct route to/from Lake Huron was constructed in Saginaw Bay, so the new front and rear range lights made the Saginaw River Range Lights obsolete. Saginaw River Front Range Light was removed from its crib on the west side of the Saginaw River (near the mouth) in the 1960s. The building for the inactive Saginaw River Rear Range Light continued as an active U.S. Coast Guard station until 1980, when they moved to a new facility across the river in Bay County’s Hampton Township (listed as an Essexville, Michigan postal address).


The Saginaw River Marine Historical Society is involved in the renovation of Saginaw River Rear Range Lighthouse, which is located on Dow Chemical Company property in Bangor Township of Bay County, Michigan. The lighthouse is about 3/4 mile south of the mouth of the Saginaw River and Saginaw Bay (Lake Huron). In this January 21, 2020 Facebook post, the Saginaw River Marine Historical Society announced that Dow Chemical will completely fund the renovation of Saginaw River Rear Range Lighthouse:

Renovation of Saginaw River Rear Range Lighthouse complex began in early 2022, with the removal of the invasive vegetation surrounding the lighthouse and the entrance leading to the lighthouse is transitioning from a private road to a public one. Architectural work on the lighthouse begins this spring and it will be done by professionals. At this time, Saginaw River Rear Range Lighthouse is not open for tours because of the renovation.


The Saginaw River Marine Historical Society Museum and Store is in the Bay City Town Center (formerly known as Bay City Mall), located next to Zales Jewelers. The artifacts on display in the SRMHS Museum tell the story of shipbuilding on the Saginaw River. While it is not a complete history of shipbuilding, we hope this will encourage visitors to learn more about the contributions of early Saginaw River shipbuilders. More than 650 commercial vessels were built on the Saginaw River and around the Saginaw Bay. Link to the Bay City Town Center on Google Maps:


The Saginaw River Marine Historical Society has seven monthly presentations (always with a program) a year and they start at 6:30 pm on the third Saturday of each month (unless there is a different location, day, time for a specific presentation). The presentations are at Trinity Episcopal Church, 815 N. Grant (corner of Center Ave. and N. Grant St.) in Bay City, Michigan. Please use the Fifth Street entrance at the back of the church. (Location of the church from Google Maps: NOTE: Our regular presentations are open to the public and there is no charge to attend. Customarily, there are no presentations in May, June, July, August and December.


Saginaw River Marine Historical Society membership is a $15 annual fee for an individual, $30 annual fee for a family, and $300 for a lifetime membership. Membership includes our quarterly newsletter, the "Modoc Whistle." More information, including a SRMHS Membership Application Form is at this link:


On the third Saturday of every October (usually at 4:00 pm), the SRMHS holds an Annual Memorial Service in memory of area mariners who lost their lives on the Great Lakes. This short service is held at downtown Bay City's Third Street Waterfall Park, located next to and over the Saginaw River (near St. Laurent Brothers). The public is welcome to attend this service. (Note: 2016 was the last year we had this service on the third Saturday of November.)


The Saginaw River is about 22 miles long. The river is formed by the confluence of the Tittabawassee and Shiawassee Rivers, just west of the southern city limits of Saginaw, Michigan, and it flows northward into the Saginaw Bay of Lake Huron (one of the five "Great Lakes"; the Great Lakes are approximately 20% of the world's freshwater supply), just northeast of Bay City. The slope of the Saginaw River is so small that fluctuations in the elevation of Saginaw Bay caused by strong winds sometimes reverse the current in the river. The Saginaw River is in the Great Lakes Bay Region (see for more information about the Great Lakes Bay Region).

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Mailing Address:

Saginaw River Marine Historical Society

P.O. Box 2051

Dept. Web
Bay City, Michigan 48707-2051

Phone: 989-545-9425

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