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  Spanish to English translation


       This is from the blog of my friend in Puerto Rico, Professor Josť Mari-Mutt:

(He is an expert on the lighthouses of Puerto Rico)


A little over a year ago I talked by phone with the captain of a boat that travels to Mona. I inquired about the possibility of visiting the island to photograph the only lighthouse in Puerto Rico that I have not seen in person. We had hardly exchanged three or four phrases when the captain told me something I had heard and read on several occasions: that the Mona lighthouse tower was designed by Gustave Eiffel... yes, the same person who designed the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty. The story is interesting and gives the lighthouse a special mystique, except for one small detail: there is no evidence to support it.

The marine illumination plan for Puerto Rico, approved in 1869, included the construction of a second order lighthouse in Mona. Various obstacles delayed work and it was not until 1885 that Eng'r Rafael Ravenna presented two projects: one for a masonry lighthouse which was discarded, and a second one for an iron lighthouse whose construction was approved the following year. The project report accurately describes the tower and includes plans that illustrate the dimensions of its parts. The structure is clearly described and evidently was considered a simple tower.

Why then a connection with Eiffel? All metal components of lighthouses, including the tower stairway, the lantern which houses the lens and the clockwork mechanism that rotated it, were bought in Paris, where there were several factories specialized in equipment for lighthouses and the Spanish government had a resident engineer in charge of purchasing materials. Something similar happened with the metal bridges built by the Spanish in Puerto Rico. They were designed here, built in France or Belgium, shipped by boat and assembled at the project.

The construction of the Mona Island Lighthouse components coincided with the 1889 Universal Exhibition in Paris, the same fair whose entrance was the Eiffel tower. The company contracted, Lemmoiner Sauter & Cie, requested and received permission to exhibit the Mona lighthouse components at the fair. We do not know how the Eiffel and Mona towers became connected, but we know that it was Rafael Ravenna, not Eiffel who designed it.

Sanchez-Terry, M. A. 1992. Overseas Spanish lighthouses. Ministry of Public Works and Transport, Madrid. 506 pp. ISBN 84-7433-792-5

Ravenna, R. 1885, 1886. Original memory and memory reformed Mona lighthouse project. Available through the Spanish filesystems Portal (PARES).
Lighthouse Eiffel Mona
Tuesday, August 31, 2010