Thanks to the Officers and Civilians Spouses Club of the U.S. Naval Base Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and especially to Marcela Beth McMillan, for providing this photo of the Windward Point Light and information concerning the lighthouse.
Photo by IT2 Paul W. Nelson, U.S. Navy Reserve; copyright 2003. Used by permission
The following information about this lighthouse comes from the records of the Officers and Civilians Spouses Club and oral histories compiled by Ms. McMillan.
The lighthouse keepers' cottage is currently in use as the Guantanamo Bay Naval Station Cultural Historical Collection. The collection houses hundreds of old black and white photos taken from the Spanish American War, WWI, WWII, as well as the Viet Nam Era. There is also an enormous amount of United States Marine Corps memorabilia stored there covering over 100 years of their history on "The Rock."
The lighthouse, made all of steel, is 60 feet tall with 67 steps and has a molded copper cupola containing a weather vane with the compass coordinate of "O" for Ouest (Spanish for West). The interior is sleeved in tongue-and-groove mahogany. It was built in 1904 in the U.S., shipped here to Guantanamo Bay, and assembled here. It ran on whale oil as an official navigation light until 1955 until the light was decommissioned and moved to the Coast Guard museum in the States. It currently has a weaker solar light that can be seen out to 5-miles. Records indicate the solar light was placed in the cupola in 1988.
In the picture, you will see a small boat on the lower right corner of the photograph. That is one of the boats used by Cubans to flee Castro's Cuba in the mid-90's when thousands of Cuban refugees fled their homeland. The remains of about 10 boats are mounted within the lighthouse compound grounds for visitors to view.
The Lighthouse Historical Collection is open to Naval Station residents and visitors from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. each Sunday. Unfortunately, due to safety concerns, the lighthouse is no longer open to the public. The Cultural Committee of the Officers and Civilians Spouses Club is responsible for management of the historical collection and lighthouse.
Thanks also to Michael Long for this panoramic view of Windward Point.
Photo by Michael Long, U.S. Naval Base Guantánamo Bay; copyright 2003. Used by permission
Endangered: In January 2010, the Defense Department reported that the lighthouse is seriously deteriorated. According to JoAnn King of the Naval Station's Public Works Department, the tower "eventually will become a safety hazard and have to be demolished."
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Updated June 20, 2003. Checked and revised October 12, 2013. Site copyright 2013 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.