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 Arecibo (Punta Morrillo), PR    
Lighthouse accessible by car and a short, easy walk.Interior open or museum on site.Fee charged.
Description: During the nineteenth century, Spain developed Puerto Rico as a plantation to grow such crops as sugar, tobacco, and coffee for export. This trade kept the port at Arecibo busy, and between 1851 and 1858 around fifteen ships grounded or sank at the port due to a lack of navigational aids. Spain finally built a lighthouse atop Punta Morrillo on the eastern side of Puerto Arecibo, but just a few months later it fell into the hands of the United States, which gained control of the territory following the Spanish-American War.

Aerial View of Arecibo Lighthouse
Photograph courtesy U.S. Coast Guard
The plans for the lighthouse called for a hexagonal tower attached midway along the long side of a rectangular, one-story dwelling measuring 84’ x 40’. The entrance to the dwelling was on the south side, directly opposite the tower, and led into a vestibule. On the left and right side of the vestibule were doors that led into identical five-room apartments for the keepers. The five rooms consisted of two bedrooms, a kitchen/dining room, a bathroom, and a living room. Walking straight through the vestibule, one would find two rooms just before the door that led to the tower. On the left was a storage and cleaning room, while an engineering room was on the right. Each of the rooms in the dwelling was provided with a single, double-pane casement, except for the corner rooms, which had two windows. A basement below the tower served as an oil room, and a nearby cistern was used to hold water collected from the roof of the dwelling.

Halfway up the tower a window is located on the north face, and opposite this a door provides access to the roof of the dwelling. A cast-iron and copper lantern room is perched atop the tower with its base surrounded by a cement gallery. A third-order Fresnel lens fabricated in France by Barbier & Benard was used to produce a flashing light.

The lighthouse, constructed in 1897-1898 using brick, stone, and rubble masonry, was originally painted white with lead-gray trimmings. Wooden floors were installed in the keeper’s quarters, while white and gray Genoa marble slabs were employed as flooring elsewhere in the lighthouse.

The lighthouse was converted to electric power in 1931. In 1959, the keeper’s quarters were remodeled to accommodate modern bathroom facilities, and a reinforced-concrete roof replaced the original brick roof.

After the light was automated in 1964, the unmanned structure fell victim to decay and vandalism. Over the eight-year period between 1969 and 1977, the lighthouse was seriously vandalized sixteen times. The Fresnel lens was damaged in 1975 and destroyed in 1977.

When a survey of the Arecibo Lighthouse was conducted in 1977, some of the marble slabs were missing in the floor, all the windows and doors were gone along with the lantern room, and chunks of brick and mortar had been torn from the walls. The City of Arecibo initiated an ambitious restoration of the lighthouse in 2001, and a year later a new lantern had been installed and the entire structure thoroughly rehabilitated. The lighthouse, which anchors a historical park that includes an Indian village, a zoo, an aquarium, and a playground, is now home to a small museum showcasing marine artifacts, the history of the lighthouse, and the Spanish-American War.

Photo Gallery: 1 2 3

References

  1. “Faro de los Morillos de Arecibo,” Kevin Murphy, Historic American Engineering Record, August, 1984.

Location: Located on the northern coast of Puerto Rico, thirty-four miles west of San Juan.
Latitude: 18.48198
Longitude: -66.69869

For a larger map of Arecibo (Punta Morrillo) Lighthouse, click the lighthouse in the above map or get a map from: Mapquest.


Travel Instructions: From Highway 22 (Expo Jose de Diego)take Exit 75 southeast of Arecibo and travel north on Route 10 for 1.8 km (1.1 miles), and then turn right onto Route 2. Stay on Route 2 for 1.2 km (0.75 miles), and then turn left on Avenida Victor Rojas, and then make a quick right onto Route 681. After 1.5 km (0.9 miles), turn left onto Route 655, which will lead to the Arecibo Lighthouse in just under 1.0 km.

The Arecibo Lighthouse contains a museum that is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on the weekends. For more information, call (787) 880-7540.

The lighthouse is owned by the U.S. Coast Guard. Grounds open, dwelling is a museum.

Find the closest hotels to Arecibo (Punta Morrillo) Lighthouse

Notes from a friend:

Kraig writes:
To gain access to the Arecibo Lighthouse, you must pay admission to the Arecibo Lighthouse & Historic Park, which in 2009 cost $10. The price may be a bit steep, but there are some fairly interesting kid-oriented things to see besides the lighthouse, which I must disappointingly say is mainly used as office space, though the tiled floor and spiral stairway are in great shape, and the view from the lighthouse roof is outstanding. Some of the other attractions included with the lighthouse are Columbus' three ships, a pirate ship, a pirate's cave/aquarium, a mini zoo, and a Taino village.

I was told at the lighthouse that Morillo, an alternate name for the lighthouse, means a rocky outcropping, which make sense given the site on which the lighthouse was built.


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