Grand Trunk Western Railroad Grand Haven Coal Tipple

300 Block of N. Harbor Dr. in Chinook Pier Park, Grand Haven, Michigan

Coaling station removed from service in the 1950s


Overview Looking Northeast

This is the tallest structure in Grand Haven. At one time, this was a busy yard for the Grand Trunk Western Railroad with the tipple, water tower, grain elevator, turntable, and a ferry dock. Car ferry service to Milwaukee sailed from here until 1933 when the service moved to Muskegon.

Photo taken by J.R. Manning in July 2020



Street View 


At one time, the Grand Trunk Western offered car ferry service between Grand Haven and Milwaukee. The Grand Trunk car ferry, SS Milwaukee sank in 1929, with all hands, about seven miles from Milwaukee. It was replaced by the SS City of Milwaukee that was the last of six sister ships built by Manitowoc Shipbuilding in the 1920s. The SS City of Milwaukee is extant, the last pre-World War II Lake Michigan car ferry extant. It is docked in Manistee, Michigan, a floating museum that is open for tours and is also a bed & breakfast in season. The SS City of Milwaukee is also on the NRHP and can be seen here by clicking on the link.

Car ferry service from Grand Haven ended in 1933 when changes in maritime law caused the service to be moved to Muskegon. It did return here briefly when the dock in Muskegon collapsed, at least, until the dock was repaired.

"The Grand Trunk Western Railroad Grand Haven Coal Tipple is located in a city park along the Grand River, occupying a portion of the former Grand Trunk Western Railroad yards, north of Grand Haven' s central business district along the north side of North Harbor Drive midway between North 1st and 2nd Streets. It is the tallest structure in Grand Haven. The gabled monolithic reinforced concrete coal tipple rises seventy-nine feet on arched piers, and is composed of a large coal storage section and a small gabled unit above that housed hoist machinery. Coal cars were routed beneath the tipple and emptied into hopper pits beneath the railroad siding, from which hoist buckets raised the coal up to the storage bin. Chutes from the side of the tipple were used to fill the coal tenders of the steam locomotives. A small single-story reinforced concrete power house building is located adjacent to the tipple. This coal tipple structure built by the Grand Trunk Western Railroad in 1925 is one of four primary resources representing Grand Raven's railroad-related history. The others are the 1870 Detroit, Grand Haven & Milwaukee Railroad Depot that, located at 1 N. Harbor Drive, is listed in the Michigan State Register of Historic Sites, the 1895 Goodrich Steamship Ticket Agency Building at 1 S. Harbor Drive (both located within a historic district being nominated to the National Register of Historic Places), and the National Register-listed Pere Marquette Steam Locomotive #1223, located in the city park adjacent to the coal tipple."

Quotation from the National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form prepared by William Rutter , June 15, 2015. A link to the document is listed below under "Sources."

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 6, 2016.

Update Log 

  • August 20, 2020: New photos from J.R. Manning
  • August 20, 2020: Updated by J.R. Manning: Updated status, updated description and added photos
  • November 3, 2017: Added by Michael Miller



Grand Trunk Western Railroad Grand Haven Coal Tipple
Posted December 10, 2020, by Satolli Glassmeyer (info [at] HistoryInYourOwnBackyard [dot] com)

Hre's a short video I recently did on the history of the Grand Trunk Coaling Tower: