Mona

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    The Mona lighthouse entered service on April 30, 1900. The Spanish engineer Rafael Ravena prepared two very different plans, one for a traditional masonry building with a central courtyard and twenty-five rooms, which would have been the largest lighthouse in the Caribbean, and the other for an iron tower flanked by two wood and metal buildings 64 feet long by 50 feet wide. Both designs would house three keepers. The second option was chosen in November 1885 due of its lower cost and easier construction.

    The difficulty of transporting materials to Mona and other obstacles delayed construction so that at the end of the Spanish-American War only part of the material was onsite. The U.S. government obtained the remaining material and finished the project, albeit with one residence instead of two. The precise location where the lighthouse was inaugurated is not altogether clear; a large cistern roughly midway between Playa Pajaros and the current lighthouse suggests that the lighthouse may have been initially located there and that a few years later it was moved to its present location. Historian Walter Cardona-Bonet identifies the location of the cistern as that of the first lighthouse, but without further details. Although it is frequently written and commented that the tower was designed by Gustave Eiffel, no mention is made of the fact in Nistal-Moret’s study nor in the well-documented work Faros Españoles de Ultramar. On the contrary, Ravena’s project describes and illustrates the tower just as it was constructed. The Mona lighthouse had the only second-order lens used in Puerto Rico, which projected its light 22 miles away; this lens is in Mona, disassembled and under the custody of the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DRNA). The light was electrified in 1938 and automated in 1973. The building was transferred to the DRNA in 1976 and was abandoned in 1981. Since then the tower has deteriorated to the point of being considered beyond repair.

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