Even with Cardona Island Lighthouse now active, the Columbia ran aground on a coral reef projecting from the island upon arriving at Ponce on July 30. The commander of the U.S. fleet wisely suggested that two vessels be sent to Puerto Rico as soon as possible to conduct a survey of the southern coast and harbors and that a buoy be set just south of Cardona Island, where the Columbia grounded.
Shortly after the U.S. Lighthouse Board had assumed control of Puerto Rico’s lighthouses, it included the following description of Cardona Island Lighthouse in its Annual Report of 1901.
This sixth-order fixed red light is 46 feet above high water, is visible 7 ˝ miles, is shone from a cylindrical tower in the center of the front of a one-story flat-roof dwelling which is blue with white trimmings. The tower is 31 feet high from its base, was commenced in 1887 and was finished in 1889 by the Spanish, at a cost of 11,760 pesos, and is used to guide to the entrance of Port Ponce. The cracks in the walls, the roof, and the exterior walk were repaired with cement; the grounds about the dwelling graded, locks fitted to three doors, the cistern was repaired, and new chains were fitted.
A reinforced-concrete oil house was finished at Cardona Island Lighthouse in early 1914 at a cost of $370.72. In 1922, the light was changed from oil to acetylene at a cost of $1,025. The lighthouse was automated in 1962, and the dwelling sealed up to prevent vandalism.
The original sixth-order Fresnel lens, manufactured by Sautter, Lemonnier & Cie., was still in use in the late 1970s.
Head Keepers: Robustiano Reguera (at least 1901), Arturo Castro (at least 1903 – at least 1911), Manuel Perez Castillo (1913 – 1914), Simeon Martin (1914 – 1915), Ramon Romero (1916 – ), Felix R. Giraldet (at least 1917 – at least 1921).