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 Punta Mulas, PR    
Lighthouse accessible by car and a short, easy walk.Lighthouse accessible by ferry.Photogenic lighthouse or setting.Lighthouse appeared in movie.
Description: Isabella Segunda, the main town on the island of Vieques, was founded in 1843, the same year in which Queen Isabella II began ruling Spain. On a point just east of Isabella Segunda, the Spanish began construction of the Punta Mulas Lighthouse in 1895 to mark the town’s harbor and to assist vessels transiting the passage marked by Culebra Island to the north and Vieques to the south. The light was first exhibited in 1896.

The lighthouse, originally painted light blue with white trimmings, consists of an octagonal tower centered on the roof of a one-story dwelling, and this same basic plan was used to construct the Puerto Ferro Lighthouse, located on the opposite shore of Vieques Island. The dwelling measures 53’ x 35’ with the main entrance centered on the south side of the structure. The main door entered into a vestibule, which connected to the tower to the north, the keeper’s two bedrooms and a living room to the east, and an engineer’s room, an office, storage/oil room, and latrine to the west. The kitchen was located opposite the vestibule on the north side of the dwelling.

Punta Mulas Lighthouse in 1978
Photograph courtesy Library of Congress
A spiral, cast-iron stairway provided access from the dwelling to a circular lantern room, which was surrounded by a cement gallery and a cast-iron balustrade. A sixth-order Fresnel lens, manufactured in France by Barbier & Benard, was mounted atop a cast-iron pedestal in the lantern room. The light’s early signature was fixed-red, visible from a distance of eight miles. An oil house, for storing kerosene, was built near the lighthouse in 1913 at a cost of $371.

The Punta Mulas Lighthouse was remodeled in the early 1940s. The brick roof was replaced by one built of reinforced concrete. The storage/oil room was converted into a pantry and dining room, the vestibule became the living room, the office became the storeroom, and the former living room was made into an office. More changes were made in 1944, when the new pantry/dining room was made into a power plant and battery room, the storeroom was converted into a modern bathroom, and a portion of the office was remodeled to serve as a storeroom.

The lighthouse was automated and left unattended starting in 1949. However, a caretaker started living in the dwelling in the 1960s, which prevented the structure from falling into disrepair.

The Punta Mulas Lighthouse was restored and opened to the public as a museum on October 12, 1992 in celebration of the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ first voyage to America.

Photo Gallery: 1 2 3 4 5 6

References

  1. “Punta Mulas Light,” Kevin Murphy, Historic American Engineering Record, August, 1984.

Location: Located on Punta Mulas, just east of the ferry landing at Isabel Segunda on Vieques.
Latitude: 18.1545
Longitude: -65.44384

For a larger map of Punta Mulas Lighthouse, click the lighthouse in the above map or get a map from: Mapquest.


Travel Instructions: From the ferry landing in Isabel Segunda on Vieques, turn left onto Calle Morropo, and after 0.3 km (0.2 miles), you will find the Punta Mulas Lighthouse on your left. The lighthouse houses a small museum focusing on Vieques and its maritime history and is open daily between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. For more information, the lighthouse can be reached at (787) 741-5000. Note that in 2009, the lighthouse had been closed for about four years due to water damage and neglect.

The lighthouse is owned by the U.S. Coast Guard. Grounds/dwelling open.

Find the closest hotels to Punta Mulas Lighthouse

Notes from a friend:

Kraig writes:
A plaque on the lighthouse reads:
The Punta Mulas Lighthouse, a National Historic Monument, constructed in the year 1896 during the Spanish rule. Reconstructed under the administration of the Honorable Manuela Santiago Collazo, Mayor of Vieques, in the year 1992
It is obvious that the lighthouse was beautifully and meticulously restored as the decorative ironwork now mounted above the cistern is missing in the black and white photograph above. I knew the lighthouse would be closed during my visit in 2009 due to water damage, but I was disappointed to find that even the grounds were not open. I know I am biased, but I thought the lighthouse was the most beautiful spot in town, and certainly worthy of upkeep as it could host numerous public and private events.

The Punta Mulas Lighthouse is still in a lot better shape than when it appeared in the 1986 movie Heartbreak Ridge. In this film, Clint Eastwood leads a ragtag platoon that he has whipped into shape on a reconnaissance mission on the island of "Grenada," which is played by Vieques. Eastwood's marines first rescue some Americans holed up at St. George's University and then have to take refuge in the abandoned Punta Mulas Lighthouse when they encounter a tank flanked my enemy fighters. You can clearly see the ferry landing and pier in the background in Isabella Segunda as a soldier climbs to the top of the lighthouse to repair a phone line so an air strike can be called in. After a helicopter destroys the tank, the men advance through the town and take the hilltop fort, which is also in dramatically better condition now then when the movie was shot.


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Pictures on this page copyright Kraig Anderson, used by permission.