The first San Juan, or El Morro Castle lighthouse, entered service on January 1, 1846. Its first keepers were Manuel Soto and Narciso Sánchez, both recently arrived from Cuba, and whom like all other keepers of this lighthouse, lived in the adjacent city and not in the fort. The lighthouse was built on the bastion closest to the bay entrance (Austria Bastion) and consisted of an octagonal brick base, an octagonal iron tower, and a lantern equipped with five lamps and an equal number of parabolic reflectors. Its visibility from the northeast was not optimal and because of this, and other problems, the lighthouse was disassembled moved to the bastion closest to the sea (Ochoa bastion), where it entered service on April 1, 1876, this time painted dark-gray and white, the same colors it has today.
The lighthouse was equipped with a new lantern and a third-order Fresnel lens which projected its light 18 miles away. The bombardment of El Morro in 1898 caused irreparable damage to the tower and the lantern.
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