Vieques (Puerto ferro)

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    The Puerto Ferro lighthouse entered service in December 1899, some eighteen months after the end of the Spanish-American War. It was designed by Francisco de Albacete and constructed over a plateau near the center of the island’s south coast, to facilitate navigation along southeast Puerto Rico and into the local port, which exported sugar, cattle, and other products. This lighthouse is identical to the one at Punta Mulas, located opposite on the north coast, except that the details and the baseboard were painted dark gray, and the lens was more powerful.

   The building measures 53 feet long by 35 feet wide. The 28-foot tall octagonal tower is at the center of the structure, its fifth-order lens projected the light twelve miles away. The two Vieques lights are the only Puerto Rican lighthouses built originally with two doors, of which the rear is flanked by two circular openings (bull’s eyes) which ventilated the bathroom and the kitchen. Over the entrance facing the sea there is a base for a flag post, which does not figure in the original plans. Since both lighthouses were constructed on high ground, their towers are short and their only opening to the outside is the door leading to the roof. Due to the presence of several cracks, funds were requested in 1920 to destroy the lighthouse and replace it with a new one, but the request was not granted. The lighthouse continued operating until 1926, when an earthquake caused additional damage; the building was then abandoned and a light was installed on a metal tower which collapsed years ago. Neglect and vandalism have left the lighthouse in ruins. Some of the roof beams have fallen and most of the remaining ones are in poor condition. The surrounding land belongs to the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge.

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