250px-Culebrita_LighthouseAlthough a July 2006 pho­to shows the small mod­ern light in the shat­tered lantern, it is amaz­ing that this light­house is in ser­vice. As of late 2000, the build­ing is in ruins, severe­ly dam­aged by van­dals and by Hur­ri­canes Hugo (1989) and Mar­i­lyn (1995).  This is anoth­er light­house on the Light­house Digest Dooms­day List. The build­ing is report­ed to be haz­ardous inside. In 2003 own­er­ship of the light sta­tion was trans­ferred from the Cule­bra Nation­al Wildlife Refuge to the Munic­i­pal­i­ty of Cule­bra. A com­mon­wealth grant of $700,000 was report­ed to be avail­able for pre­lim­i­nary restora­tion, and archi­tects had been hired to super­vise the work.  June 2007 pho­to and an April 2008 pho­to show no evi­dence of work in progress. Locat­ed on the high­est point of Culebri­ta, off the east­ern tip of Cule­bra and over­look­ing the Vir­gin Pas­sage. Acces­si­ble only by boat day tours avail­able from Cule­bra, which can be reached by air from San Juan or by fer­ry from Fajar­do). It’s a stiff hike from the beach to the light­house.  The Culebri­ta light­house entered ser­vice on Feb­ru­ary 25, 1886. Its first keep­ers were Fran­cis­co Cabanel­las and Pedro del Olmo. It was designed by Manuel Maese and built by the gov­ern­ment itself on the sum­mit of this small island because it is the high­est point in the Cule­bra arch­i­pel­ago. Due to its loca­tion in an iso­lat­ed, unin­hab­it­ed place, the con­struc­tion was very cost­ly and dif­fi­cult. Water, food and most of the con­struc­tion mate­ri­als had to be trans­port­ed from Fajar­do or Vieques. It was also dif­fi­cult to hire the work­ers.

The Culebri­ta light­house is unique among local lights by its E-shape, with the tow­er con­nect­ed on one side to the vestibule of the two keep­ers’ res­i­dence and on the oth­er to the fuel deposit. The fourth-order lens pro­ject­ed its light twelve miles away, illu­mi­nat­ing to the west the pas­sage between Cule­bra and Puer­to Rico and to the east the pas­sage between Cule­bra and the Vir­gin Islands. The orig­i­nal lens was destroyed by a hur­ri­cane (San Cipri­an) in 1932 and was sub­sti­tut­ed by a third-order lens. The Coast Guard board­ed the build­ing in 1959 but the U.S. Navy used it spo­rad­i­cal­ly as an obser­va­tion post until 1975, when an auto­mat­ed bea­con was installed; the small plas­tic bea­con cur­rent­ly used is fed by solar pan­els. The weath­er, van­dal­ism, and a failed restora­tion project in 2003 have left the build­ing in ruins. The lantern’s dome was blown away by a hur­ri­cane and lies near­by among the veg­e­ta­tion.