|Punta Higuero (Point Jiquero, Rincon), PR|
Description: The first lighthouse constructed on Punta Higuero was activated on January 13, 1893 to help guide mariners through the Mona Passage, separating Puerto Rico from Mona Island. The tower's lantern room originally housed a sixth-order, Barbier and Benard Fresnel lens with six flash panels, which displayed a light at a focal plane of sixty-nine feet. An oil lamp was used as the first light source, but this was upgraded to a more powerful oil-vapor lamp in 1913.
Its Mediterranean appearance came from an elaborate combination of exposed and indented brick work in the faces – around doors and windows – and corners. The “castle” look was further emphasized by reddish stucco imitating stone-work on all facades and the very elaborate exposed brick cornice topped by a parapet built in lace-like brick-work.
The Punta Higuero Lighthouse was severely damaged by an earthquake that struck the area on October 11, 1918, but it was not affected by the tsunami associated with the quake due to its bluff-top location. The nearby lighthouse at Punta Borinquen was rendered unusable by the double blow of the earthquake and tsunami.
An inspection of the Punta Higuero Lighthouse following the tremor found two serious cracks in the tower that extended clear through the brickwork and were located two and eight feet above the roof of the dwelling. Other cracks were found in the arches above the windows and doors in the exterior walls, and a great deal of plaster had fallen from the walls. The dwelling was vacated, not being considered safe for occupancy by the keepers, and $30,000 was requested to construct a replacement lighthouse out of reinforced concrete.
Congress appropriated $24,000 in July of 1919 for rebuilding the lighthouse. As bids for the project exceeded this amount, workers in the lighthouse district and hired labor were used. The Annual Report of the Commissioner of Lighthouses for 1922, gives the following description of the new station.
The tower is of reinforced concrete and consists of a cylindrical shaft 12 feet in diameter, with walls 1 foot thick, having a stepped base and supported on a square reinforced foundation 3 feet thick. A spiral stairway of precast concrete steps extends from base to top, the inner ends of the steps being supported by a hollow concrete column. A 7-foot helical bar lantern will eventually surmount the tower and contain the lens apparatus removed from the old station, but for present the old lantern is in use. The focal plane of the light is 55 feet above the ground, and 93 feet above high water.
The new lighthouse was completed in 1921 was placed in commission on January 12, 1922. The dwelling suffered fire damage after the light was automated in 1933 and was later razed. The Punta Higuero Lighthouse now stands alone in El Faro Park, a popular spot for surfing and whale watching.
Located just north of Rincon in El Faro Park, the western most point of Puerto Rico. The lighthouse is owned by the U.S. Coast Guard. Grounds open, tower closed.
The lighthouse is owned by the U.S. Coast Guard. Grounds open, tower closed.
Pictures on this page copyright Kraig Anderson, used by permission.