250px-Caja_de_Muerto_LighthouseLight­house paint­ed white, lantern black.  Poor­ly main­tained, the light sta­tion is on the Light­house Digest Dooms­day List,  holes in the roof are allow­ing rain to drench the inte­ri­or. Caja de Muer­tos is a small island in the Caribbean about 5 miles south­east of Ponce; it is acces­si­ble by pas­sen­ger fer­ry from Ponce on week­ends. The island is a nature pre­serve. Light­house locat­ed on the high­est point of the island, more or less acces­si­ble by a very steep and dif­fi­cult hik­ing trail.

The Caja de Muer­tos light­house entered ser­vice on August 15, 1887. Its first keep­ers were Severo del Olmo and César Pri­eto. It was designed by Manuel Maese and built by the gov­ern­ment itself at the top of this island locat­ed eight miles from Ponce, and whose shape as seen from the city resem­bles an old cof­fin. The build­ing mea­sures 81 feet long by 51 feet wide and has an H shape unique among local light­hous­es, with the 41-foot tall tow­er locat­ed at the cen­ter of the struc­ture. Behind the tow­er was the fuel stor­age room, which ven­ti­lat­ed through a cir­cu­lar blind.

The build­ing was paint­ed light blue with white details and black base­board. The third-order lens, which pro­ject­ed its light eigh­teen miles away, was sub­sti­tut­ed in 1945 by a fixed lens which is exhib­it­ed in the Coast Guard’s small muse­um in San Juan. Today the light is pro­duced by a plas­tic bea­con fed by solar pan­els. The light­house was auto­mat­ed and closed in 1945, with­out appar­ent­ly hav­ing been sig­nif­i­cant­ly altered; how­ev­er, the tower’s balustrade is not orig­i­nal. Although the remote loca­tion has pro­tect­ed it from the van­dal­ism suf­fered by oth­er light­hous­es, dete­ri­o­ra­tion due to neglect is evi­dent. The roof, for exam­ple, has a large hole through which rain­wa­ter enters the build­ing, the high inter­nal humid­i­ty has sure­ly con­tributed to the dete­ri­o­ra­tion of the roof beams and oth­er ele­ments of the struc­ture. Caja de Muer­tos can be vis­it­ed on week­ends by fer­ry leav­ing from the board­walk at La Guan­cha, Ponce, reser­va­tions: 787−842−8546. The hike to the light­house is short but should be under­tak­en ear­ly, before the after­noon heat sets in.