Puerto Rico System of Lighthouses, Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico Lighthouse History
TUNA POINT LIGHTHOUSE
Working to attain and reconstruct the Tuna Point Light House
"Faro De Punta Tuna" & protect the US coastline
This site is dedicated to the lighthouse restoration and lighthouse preservation of the Punta Tuna lighthouse.  This USCG Lighthouse is considered part of the National Park Service, as it is one of the Puerto Rico National Historic Lighthouses.  It is known but many names including, Tuna Point lighthouse, Point Tuna lighthouse, Faro de Punta Tuna, and Maunabo lighthouse.  The Point Tuna Lighthouse is located in Maunabo, Puerto Rico and this site contains, lighthouse pictures, lighthouse photos, lighthouse blueprints, lighthouse facts, lighthouse images from space, weather at the lighthouse, Maunabo weather and weather for all of Puerto Rico.  There is also detailed information, on the Maunabo Wetland area. There is also detailed information, on the Maunabo Wetland area, and plans for the coastal security of the United States.
...is about the people and communities that built ships, shipped goods, sailed ships, kept lights, rescued wrecks, fished waters, and kept the sea lanes open

...is about the use of waterways for commerce, transportation, defense, and recreation

  ...is about the traditions and skills, arts and crafts, artifacts and documents, and buildings, structures, and vessels that reflect our past maritime endeavors 

...is what we help to interpret and preserve
America's maritime lighthouse heritage...
GENERAL HISTORY OF THE PUERTO RICO LIGHTS

Puerto Rico, great point of defense between North and South America. The Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea was, and is, one of the most accessible routes to arrive from one country to the other. In the antiquated days of marine transportation they did not count on sophisticated radars like we have today. In these times all the boats did not have a sophisticated Global Positioning Systems (GPS). The necessity of a guide which blessed the boats with his light during the night, that served like a datum point between the sailor and the earth, became reality a functional system of security that today are known as lighthouses.

In antiquity the fishermen ignited fires to borders of beaches and near mountains to use them as measured visual distances between them in the sea and from the beach.  In this way they could work out roughly how far out they were and how far up or down the beach they were.  All of this carried certain problems: fires in areas would go underwater, the fire was extinguished by lack of material while they were on the out at sea and they had to confine themselves to a limited area. Improvements came slowly first with light from animal lard then light powered by gas.

Now the sailors left their lights near the beach or on the coast maintained by mooring cables in high places or on woods. Nevertheless, maintaining the datum point with its lights was still difficult for them as their time was spent on the sea, not the land.  Something had to be done.  The first lights operated with lanterns. The high towers that were first built took a lot of work to put a lantern in one of these holders.  The next step was to put a reflector behind the lantern, this allowed for much greater distance of visibility to be achieved. The first light that anything is known of is the one in Alexandria in Egypt. The same one took the same name "Pharos". From its name the designation of "faros" and the science of the farología. 

The first lighthouse that was constructed in the New World was the lighthouse of Veracruz during the 16 century. The first light constructed in the United States was at the entrance of Brewster Island at the port of Boston in the 1716.

In Puerto Rico at the beginning of the 19-century the Spanish colonial authorities very were worried because their ability to "survive" was totally dependant on foreign trade. Amongst the development plans, the lighthouses were considered extremely necessary. These lighthouses designs with other parts of the transportation system would be the only thing that would make nighttime movement of goods possible. Nevertheless, still many places around the island, the danger of high rocks for example, continued being a risk. In many of these distant places where the navigators could not see the lighthouses, it made sailing almost impossible. It was then decided to increase the ray of light by means of the use of crystal lenses.

Great crystal lens were placed between the space and the light and the housing.  This caused a luminous ray to be generated through them, increasing the intensity of the projected light. Now the light ray would extend far out to sea. In order to be able to cover a great area, a machine was invented that caused the crystal lens to rotate around the light. This mechanism was activated and maintained manually by its operator, known as the watchman. He would live in the light with his family and worked on the maintenance of the lighthouse.  This is why the great majority of the lighthouses have space with rooms for a family.

New technological advances, such as electricity and the electrical light, these also arrived at the lighthouses. The lights began to use the light bulbs that were manufactured.  Using more and more powerful bulbs, as they were available.  Also with the arrival the electrical motor, this allowed for a machine that allowed the crystal lenses to be rotated all night long without the watchman's attention.  Some more modern lights have non-rotating lenses and the light bulb is the unit that turned on an axis. No matter the type until modern times the lights depended on their watchman.

This system, that is effective, worked and function in very efficient form. Nevertheless the lights are in distant places of the community, located in strategically important points. When being the solitary structure, and with material values, the properties began to under go a lot of damage from vandals and thieves. With the intruders destroying and taking control of the things and the lack of maintenance on the part of the pertinent authorities, the lights (this it is the case of Puerto Rico) began to deteriorate themselves. Some of these lights lost even the bronze cupola. Nevertheless, and destruction continued with the lighthouses getting only minimal maintenance restricted only to main light. The maintenance became even more needed when most of the lighthouses had their electrical systems vandalized.

For some years the Coast Guard of Puerto Rico, who have had the responsibility of the lights, has been having certain groups and municipalities acquire the rights of use of the lights for different intentions, but the light guides in the tower of the light continues being responsibility of the Coast Guard. This has saved a majority of the lights in Puerto Rico by means of the restoration of the structures and improvement of the land areas near the lights.

THE LIGHTS IN PUERTO RICO

In 1840 the Section of Ports and Wharves of the Public Work Office of Puerto Rico, had inventoried of the existing ports that were used for the navigation. According to that inventory, the main ports of the North coast were San Juan and Arecibo. San Juan was safest and most important, whereas Arecibo, in spite of having a good bay, did not have protection of winds of the north. Arecibo, in spite of its importance as a port for the export of sugar and tobacco, was the scene of not less than 15 shipping accidents between 1851 and 1858 in which some ships sunk.

The first light in Puerto Rico ignited in the Catillo de San Felipe del Morro. The colonial government announced officially that a white light had settled down in the parapet of El Morro in 1846. In 1869 a proposal was approved that proposed the establishment of 14 lights: Puerto de San Juan, Punta Bermeja, Punta Borinquen, Isla de Caja de Muertos, Ista de Culebra, Isla de la Mona, Isla de Desecheo, Cabeza de San Juan, Arecibo, Punta Higuero, Cabo Mala Pascua, Isla de Cabras, Punta Arenas and Punta del Este de Vieques.

The government spent many years in which the subject of the lighthouses was the law of the day. They added lights to the list of priorities and discarded others. In the end they constructed the following lighthouses.

Puerto de San Juan, El Morro, 1846

Cabo San Juan, Fajardo, 1880

Faro del Cabo Morrillos, Cabo Rojo, 1882

Isla Culebrita, 1886

Caja de Muertos, 1887

Punta Borinquen, Aguadilla, 1889

Punta Figuras, Arroyo, 1889

Cayo Cardona, Ponce, 1889

Guánica, 1892

Punta Higuero, Rincón, 1892

Punta Tuna, Maunabo, 1892

Punta Mulas, Vieques, 1896

Faro los Morrillos, Arecibo, 1898

Puerto Ferro, Vieques, 1899

Isla de la Mona, 1900

Isla de Cabras, 1908


Other constructions were united to the system of lights promoted by the Spanish government in Puerto Rico, and from 1898 under the American government. The authorities discovered "gaps" in the system. Areas where you needed a guide but not so falsified as to need a Lighthouse. Then tens of towers with a light were constructed. These did not have a structure like a lighthouse; the Coast Guard calls this a system of "Lights". These lights complemented the system of lighthouses of Puerto Rico so that the island was safe for the mariners that journey at night. Some of these new lights are called: Bahía de Jobos (1902), Las Cucarachas (1916), Cabeza de Perro (1922) y Punta Este (1926).

Isla Caja de Muertos was built in 1887 and is still active. It has a 63-foot cylindrical stone tower attached to a one-story stone keeper's quarters. It has been poorly maintained, but is certainly restorable. The prognosis is fair.

Isla de Mona was built in 1900 and has been inactive since 1976. It is a 52-foot pyramidal skeletal cast iron tower with a central cylinder, reportedly designed by Gustave Eiffel, of Eiffel Tower fame. It is the only one of its kind in Puerto Rico. There is a one-story steel and frame keeper's quarters. The lighthouse is abandoned and appears to be in poor condition. The prognosis is poor.

Culebrita Light was built in 1886 and has been inactive since 1959. It has a 43foot cylindrical stone tower rising from the center of a one story stone keeper's quarters. The building is in ruins. An Aug. 2000 Lighthouse Digest article described Culebrita as "on the brink of extinction."
Individual Lighthouse Details

El Morro or Port San Juan Light at the entrance to San Juan harbor. It has the honor of having been the first lighthouse built on the island. The original Moorish Revival style "square tower on castle" was built in 1846 and was rebuilt in 1908, after having been hit by U.S. artillery fire in the Spanish-American War. You can't go into the tower, but El Morro Fort, along with Fort San Cristóbal and much of the city walls, is part of the San Juan National Historic Site, and is just too spectacular an attraction to pass up. If you visit no other place on the island, you must visit El Morro in Old San Juan. Open year-round (except Christmas Day) from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  (787-729-6960)
Punta Los Morrillos in Arecibo was the last lighthouse built by the Spaniards and was finished just before El Morro was lit in 1898. It was considered very well built and illuminated when the United Sates acquired it as a result of the war. After it was automated in 1964, it fell into disuse and its distinctive copper canopy was stolen, but in 1994 a private company took over management of the site, beautifully restored the lighthouse and created
the Arecibo Lighthouse & Historical Park. This park is a haven for lighthouse and history buffs and for children,
because of its ship replicas, Pirate's Cave, small zoo, and playground. It is open 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday to Friday and 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Saturday to Sunday. It is located on Road 655, Sector El Muelle, in Arecibo (787-817-1936 or 787-880-7540).
Punta Higüero or Rincón Light, built by the Spaniards in 1892, it sat too high on a cliff to be damaged by the 1918 hurricane waves of the west. But the earthquake weakened the tower and in 1922 it was rebuilt in concrete. It now crowns a small park, and although you can't go into the tower, there is a small restaurant and gift shop and a spectacular view of Desecheo Island and the sea. If you are lucky, you'll see migrating humpback whales. You will most likely see surfers from nearby beaches whizzing by on wild waves. The park is located near the end of Road 4413, in Rincón (787-823-5024).
Punta Mulas Light in the town of Isabel Segunda, on the island municipality of Vieques, was built in 1895 and operated until 1949. It is currently a marine museum and is reportedly open to the public daily from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. If your heart is set on seeing it, however, be sure to call ahead (787-741-5000) so you won't be disappointed.
Cabo Rojo Light, also known as Faro de Los Morrillos, was established in 1882 and automated in 1967.
After years of abandonment, the exterior was restored in 2002. It is perched atop limestone cliffs that plunge dramatically down into the sea. You get there by taking Road 301 at Pole Ojea, near El Combate, and
maneuvering through and around puddles and potholes past the salt flats and through the exotic terrain of a
nature preserve. You reach the lighthouse on foot by climbing the hill at the end of the road. Don't miss the
beach the locals call La Playuelait rivals the gems on Vieques and Culebra.
Punta Figuras in Arroyo was established in 1893 and operated until 1938. For many years it was in disastrous condition, almost as bad as the lighthouse ruins at Guánica, but in 2003 it was completely restored. It is now an attractive addition to the Puerto Rico National Parks Company's Punta Guilarte Vacation Center. It is located on Highway 3, km. 126, in Arroyo.
Punta Tuna in Maunabo (Faro de Punta Tuna), built in 1892, was the last lighthouse station on the island to be inhabited by the U.S. Coast Guard until just a few years ago. You could then visit it through the station, but it has apparently been abandoned and access is prohibited. There are several points to photograph it from a distance along the road between Maunabo and Patillas or Yabucoa, and there is a vantage point on the beach near Road 7760, south of Maunabo.
Isla de Cardona Light, located on an island south of Ponce, was established in 1889 and automated in 1962. The only way to get to it is by private boat, but you can see it from the observation tower at La Guancha, at the Playa de Ponce.
Guánica Light was built in 1893 and has been inactive since 1950. It has an octagonal cylindrical masonry tower mounted on a one-story masonry keeper's quarters. The building is in ruins and there are no known restoration plans. The prognosis is very poor. ( Note I have personally walked the site and I see no hope to save it, there is simply not enough left)
Puerto Ferro was built in 1896 and has been inactive since 1926. It has an octagonal cylindrical stone tower rising from the center of a one-story stone keeper's quarters. The lantern was removed. Endangered by decay and lack of maintenance, this lighthouse is located in the former U.S. military training area on Vieques. The prognosis is very poor.
We wish to thank Luis A. Gutiérrez Negrón,  Arleen Pabón Charneco, Nelson L. Romam and Ronald C. Flores, without who's help this page would not be possible.
Fajardo or Cabo San Juan Light, located on Route 987 near Las Croabas, north of the town of Fajardo, was built in 1880 and is now part of Las Cabezas de San Juan nature reserve, which is managed by the Puerto Rico Conservation Trust. It is open to the public Friday to Sunday by appointment only. In addition to the lighthouse
and museum, it has a nature center, trails, boardwalks, and a phosphorescent bay a great place for both lighthouse and nature lovers. For information or reservations call weekdays (787) 722-5882 or weekends
(787) 860-2560.
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Punta Borinquen, the original lighthouse was built in 1889 down by the sea. On a fateful day in 1918,
the air stood still, the birds stopped singing, the dogs ran madly about.The lighthouse keeper, Francisco Cavallieri, was not concerned until his frightened wife gathered up their three children and began to run. The family just reached higher ground when the earth shook, followed by a hurricane that swept over the area, carrying off 30 of their neighbors. It's still possible (though difficult) to walk the ruins of the original lighthouse, but its hilltop replacement, first lit in 1920, is now off limits to all but U. S. Coast Guard personnel and can only be viewed through a locked gate.
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