Aguadilla (Punta Borinquen)

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  The first Aguadilla lighthouse, locally known as Las Ruinas (the ruins), entered service on September 15, 1889. It was designed by Enrique Gadea and built by Pedro Tolosa at Point Borinquen, the northwest tip of the island. The engineers considered building the lighthouse on the higher ground where decades later its substitute was built, but concluded that the many cracks present there would make it more vulnerable to earthquakes. Lack of satisfaction with its visibility from the northeast led in 1911 to a request for funds to destroy it and  build a new lighthouse.

   In 1918, before work on the new lighthouse had started, a strong earthquake damaged the tower and weakened the rest of the structure to the point that shortly afterwards it was closed and abandoned, to the ravages of the weather and vandalism. Today the only remains of this elegant lighthouse, which measured 91 feet long and 41 feet wide, are the front facade and one lateral wall. We can nevertheless have the illusion of visiting it through its twin brother, the Maunabo lighthouse; these two structures were distinguished only by their color and the details of the tower’s cornice, which in the Aguadilla lighthouse exhibited elaborate Moorish details. The building was painted red and white; part of the red paint, now very bleached by the sun, remains on the stucco of the front wall. The octagonal tower was 45 feet high and was located at the center of the building. The fourth-order lens, destroyed by the earthquake, projected its light twelve miles away, illuminating the northwest tip of Puerto Rico and the entrance to the Mona Passage.

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