Lighthouse 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.