Lighthouses of Mexico: Tamaulipas

This page includes the lighthouses of the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, which is located in the northeastern corner of the country and faces east on the Gulf of Mexico. Most of this coast consists of sandy barrier islands similar to the coast of southern Texas. The important ports of Altamira and Tampico are at the extreme southern end of the state.

Some of the lighthouses of Mexico are poorly known. More information is needed for many of them, and photos are needed for some of them. If you can add to our online knowledge, please let me know.

Mexican lighthouses are managed by the merchant marine directorate (Dirección General de Marina Mercante) within the Secretaría de Comunicaciones y Transportes, the cabinet agency that also manages the country's airports and seaports. Many of the larger light stations are staffed by resident civilian keepers.

The word for a lighthouse is faro in Spanish; smaller lighthouses are sometimes called balizas (beacons). Cabo is a cape, isla is an island, and bahía is a bay.

ARLHS numbers are from the ARLHS World List of Lights. CF numbers are from the Mexican Cuaderno de Faros (Handbook of Lighthouses). Admiralty numbers are from volume J of the Admiralty List of Lights & Fog Signals. NGA Light List numbers are from NGA Publication 110.

General sources
Online List of Lights - Mexico East Coast
Photos posted by Alexander Trabas. Most of these photos were taken by Capts. Peter Mosselberger or Theo Hinrichs, better known as Capt. Peter and Capt. Theo.
Construcción
Photos from the construction of new lighthouses in Tamaulipas by ISNI.
Lighthouses in Mexico
Photos by various photographers available from Wikimedia.
World of Lighthouses - Mexico
Photos by various photographers available from Lightphotos.net.
Lighthouses/Phares - Mexico
Historic photos and postcard images posted by Michel Forand.
Leuchttürme Mittelamerikas auf historischen Postkarten
Historic postcard images posted by Klaus Huelse.
Cuaderno de Faros
The Mexican light list can be downloaded in two volumes, Atlantic and Pacific.


Tampico (Ciudad Madero) Light, Tampico, May 2006
Flickr Creative Commons photo by Emmanuel Faz

Matamoros Lighthouses
Río Bravo (Matamoros, Faro de Bagdad) (2)
2007 (station establishment date unknown). Active; focal plane 18 m (59 ft); white flash every 6 s. 16 m (52 ft) round cylindrical white concrete tower with lantern, gallery, and four ribs; lantern roof is red. ISNI has a photo of the new lighthouse, Leonel Muri has a 2017 photo, and Google has a satellite view and a distant street view across the mouth of the Río Grande. Located in Matamoros on the south side of the entrance to the Río Grande, which is called the Río Bravo del Norte in Mexico. There is little or no navigation through the entrance, so the light is primarily a marker for the international border. Site status unknown. ARLHS MEX-037; CF-28-145; Admiralty J4229.5; NGA 15203.
Canal de Chávez
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 12 m (38 ft); white flash every 6 s. 10 m (33 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower with gallery, painted white. 300 mm lens mounted on a short mast; no lantern. Alejandro Moya has a photo, and Bing has a satellite view. "Canal" suggests that the light is supposed to mark a channel through the barrier beach, but the satellite images show no inlet in this area. Located on the beach 25 km (15 mi) south of the Río Bravo. Site open by not easy to reach, tower closed. ARLHS MEX-177; CF-28-140; Admiralty J4229.55; NGA 15203.2.
* El Mezquital (2)
2013 (station establishment date unknown). Active; focal plane 25 m (82 ft); three white flashes every 15 s. 26 m (85 ft) round cylindrical white concrete tower with lantern, gallery, and four ribs; lantern roof is red. Google has a satellite view. ISNI has a photo of the nearly completed tower and a photo shows an early stage of construction of the tower. The original lighthouse was a skeletal tower reinforced with concrete legs. El Mezquital is a small port and naval station at the northern end of the Laguna Madre; it is connected to the sea by a short canal through the barrier beach. Located about 135 km (84 mi) south of the Río Bravo. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS MEX-031; CF-28-135; Admiralty J4230; NGA 15203.1.

San Fernando Lighthouses
* La Carbonera (2)
2010. Active; focal plane 12 m (38 ft); white flash every 6 s. 10 m (33 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower with gallery, painted white. 300 mm lens mounted on a small lantern painted with red and white horizontal bands. ISNI has a photo of the new lighthouse, and Google has a distant street view and an indistinct satellite view. Located on the waterfront of La Carbonera, a fishing village on the Laguna Madre about 60 km (38 mi) south of El Mezquital. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS MEX-178; CF-28-130; Admiralty J4230.4; NGA 15206.
Punta Piedra (Punta de Piedra) (2)
2009. Active; focal plane 25 m (82 ft); two white flashes every 10 s. 25 m (82 ft) round cylindrical white concrete tower with lantern and gallery. Lantern roof is red. ISNI has a photo of the completed lighthouse, and Google has a satellite view. This new lighthouse replaced a light on a short post. Located at the end of a sandbar at Punta de Piedra, a village on the west side of the Laguna Madre at the end of highway 20. Accessible only by boat, but easily seen from the village waterfront. Site open, tower closed. CF-28-130.1; Admiralty J4230.5; NGA 15207.

Soto la Marina Lighthouse
* La Pesca (2)
2009. Active; focal plane 18 m (59 ft); four white flashes every 16 s. 16 m (52 ft) cylindrical concrete tower with four large ribs, lantern and gallery. 375 mm lens. Tower painted white with blue trim, lantern red. ISNI has a closeup of the top of the new lighthouse. A photo of the original lighthouse is at right, a distant view from the beach are available, and Google has a street view and a satellite view. La Pesca is a small fishing port and beach resort. The lighthouse marks the southern entrance to the Laguna Madre. Located at the end of highway 52 in La Pesca; accessible by road from Soto la Marina and Ciudad Victoria. Site open; tower closed. ARLHS MEX-034; CF-28-110; Admiralty J4231; NGA 15208.
La Pesca Light
La Pesca Light, La Pesca
Panoramio photo copyright Ricastro; used by permission

Aldama Lighthouses
[Punta Jerez (1)]
1904. Inactive since the early 1990s and destroyed in 2000. This lighthouse, a round French cast iron tower with ribs or buttresses, collapsed during Hurricane Keith in October 2000. Lighthouse Digest has a small photo by Hector de Luna Espinosa, and AirphotoNA.com has a 1991 aerial photo of the station. A 2006 photo shows a single buttress still standing. Ruins of the keeper's houses also survive, as seen in Google's satellite view. Punta Jerez, about 70 km (45 mi) north of Tampico, is not a cape but only a subtle bend in the barrier beach. The abandoned light station is located on the beach. Accessible only by boat. Site open.
Punta Jerez (2)
Early 1990s (station established 1904). Active; focal plane 24 m (79 ft); white flash every 6 s. 20 m (66 ft) cylindrical concrete tower with four buttresses, lantern and gallery. Lighthouse painted white; the gallery is blue. Two modern keeper's cottages. Javier Garcia Govea has a photo, a 2009 distant view is available, and Google has a satellite view. The new light station is located on the mainland, about 650 m (0.4 mi) west of the original location. Accessible by 4WD. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS MEX-058; CF-28-100; Admiralty J4232; NGA 15212.
Canal de Chavarria (Barra Morón) (1) (?)
Date unknown. Inactive since 2012. 7 m (23 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower with gallery, painted white with blue trim. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view of the station. In 2012 this lighthouse was replaced by a light on a post (focal plane 12 m (39 ft); white flash every 5 s); it's not clear if the original lighthouse survives. Located on the north side of a dredged lagoon entrance at Barra Morón. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. CF-28-098; Admiralty J4232.5; NGA 15213.

Altamira Lighthouses
Note: Altamira is a relatively new industrial zone and port constructed on the north side of the Tampico metropolitan area. While the traditional wharves of Tampico continue to handle "loose" cargo, Altamira handles all the containerized shipments for northeastern Mexico.
* Altamira
1985. Active; focal plane 42 m (138 ft); white flash every 6 s. 37 m (120 ft) octagonal building, with a 3-story base, a central tower, an octagonal harbor control room, and a light tower with lantern and gallery. Building painted white with green trim. Trabas has Capt. Peter's photo (also seen at right), César Orta also has a photo, and Google has a good satellite view. The lighthouse includes the headquarters and traffic control center for the port of Altamira. Altamira is a new port constructed on the north side of the Tampico metropolitan area. Site open, tower status unknown. Located on the north side of the harbor entrance. Site manager: Puerto de Altamira. ARLHS MEX-097; CF-28-025; Admiralty J4233; NGA 15214.
Altamira North Range Rear
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 16 m (52 ft); white light, 1 s on, 1 s off. 36 m (118 ft) square skeletal tower carrying a rectangular daymark painted red with a white vertical stripe. Trabas has Capt. Peter's photo, and Bing has an indistinct satellite view. The front light of this range is on a short skeletal tower. Located in a forest on the north side of the dredged harbor of Altamira. Site and tower closed. CF-28-050.1; Admiralty J4233.71.
Altamira Range Rear
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 37 m (121 ft); white light, 1 s on, 1 s off. 36 m (118 ft) square skeletal tower, painted with red and white horizontal bands and carrying a rectangular daymark painted red with a white vertical stripe. Trabas has Capt. Peter's photo, and Bing has an indistinct satellite view. NGA lists the middle light of this range as the rear light. The front light and middle light of this range are on short skeletal towers. Located in an oil tank farm about 500 m (0.4 mi) west of the end of the dredged harbor of Altamira. Site and tower closed. CF-28-035.2; Admiralty J4233.42; NGA 15214.45.
Altamira South Range Rear
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 16 m (52 ft); white light, 1 s on, 1 s off. 36 m (118 ft) square skeletal tower carrying a rectangular daymark painted red with a white vertical stripe. Trabas has Capt. Peter's distant photo of the range lights and Bing has an indistinct satellite view. The front light of this range is on a similar skeletal tower 11 m (36 ft) tall. Located in a forest on the south side of the dredged harbor of Altamira. Site and tower closed. CF-28-055.1; Admiralty J4233.81.

Altamira Light, Altamira
photo copyright Capt. Peter Mosselberger; used by permission

Ciudad Madero Lighthouses
Note: Ciudad Madero, Altamira, and Tampico are adjoining municipalities, part of the same metropolitan area. Ciudad Madero and Tampico are on the north bank of the Río Pánuco, the border between Tamaulipas and Veracruz states. Lighthouses on the south side of the river are described on the Veracruz page.
* Tampico Escollera Norte (North Breakwater)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 10 m (33 ft); red flash every 5 s. 6 m (20 ft) square pyramidal concrete tower, painted white, topped by a square pyramidal skeletal tower. Luis Angel Fajardo's photo is at right, Trabas has Capt. Peter's photo, Benjamin Espinosa has a good photo, Omar Fernando Vilchis Zárate has a street view, and Google has a satellite view. Located at the end of the north breakwater at the entrance to the Río Pánuco and Tampico's traditional harbor. Accessible by walking the breakwater. Site open, tower closed. CF-28-005; Admiralty J4240; NGA 15232.
* Tampico (Faro de la Barra, Ciudad Madero) (2)
1883 (station established 1865). Active; focal plane 43 m (141 ft); three white flashes every 6 s. 40 m (131 ft) hexagonal pyramidal skeletal tower with central cylinder, lantern and gallery. Entire lighthouse painted white. A photo by Emmanual Faz is at the top of this page, Trabas has Capt. Peter's photo, another good photo and a 2011 photo are available, Huelse has posted a postcard image, and Google has a satellite view. The lighthouse was designed by U.S. engineers and prefabricated in Pittsburgh. It is the only surviving example of its design. The U.S. Library of Congress has a historic photo of the lighthouse taken before 1897. Locally the lighthouse is also called El Faro de Madero, the name of the seaside city adjacent to Tampico, or El Faro de la Barra, the same name used at Tuxpan in Veracruz state and at many other places in Latin America. Located in an industrial area on the north side of the entrance to the Río Pánuco, about 1200 m (3/4 mi) from the open Gulf of Mexico. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS MEX-033; CF-28-010; Admiralty J4236; NGA 15220.

Escollera Norte Light, Tampico, August 2014
Flickr Creative Commons photo by Luis Angel Fajardo
Tergosa Range Front
Date unknown. Active (privately maintained); focal plane 16 m (52 ft); white flash every 3 s. 16.5 m (54 ft) square pyramidal skeletal tower with gallery, painted white. Trabas has Capt. Peter's photo, and Bing has a satellite view. This range guides vessels on the Río Pánuco on the west side of Tampico. Located in an industrial area on the east side of the confluence of the Río Tamesí with the Río Pánuco. Site status unknown. CF-028-615.3.1; Admiralty J4245.5.
Tergosa Range Rear
Date unknown. Active (privately maintained); focal plane 22 m (72 ft); white light, 1 s on, 1 s off. 22 m (72 ft) square pyramidal skeletal tower with gallery, painted white. Trabas has Capt. Peter's photo, and Google has an indistinct satellite view. Located in an industrial area on the east side of the confluence of the Río Tamesí with the Río Pánuco, about 180 m (600 ft) west northwest of the front light. Site status unknown. CF-028-615.3; Admiralty J4245.3.
Cemex Range Front (2)
Date unknown. Active (privately maintained); focal plane about 16 m (52 ft); white flash every 3 s. Approx. 12 m (39 ft) square pyramidal skeletal tower with gallery, painted white. Trabas has Capt. Peter's photo, and Google has an indistinct satellite view. Located in the Cemex cement plant west of the Río Tamesí. Site and tower closed. CF-028-615.4; Admiralty J4245.2.
Cemex Range Rear (2)
Date unknown. Active (privately maintained); focal plane about 25 m (82 ft); white light, 1 s on, 1 s off. Approx. 22 m (72 ft) square pyramidal skeletal tower with gallery, painted white. Trabas has Capt. Peter's photo, and Google has an indistinct satellite view. Located in the Cemex cement plant west of the Río Tamesí, about 240 m (800 ft) west of the front light. Site and tower closed. CF-028-615.5; Admiralty J4245.1.

Information available on lost lighthouses

Notable faux lighthouses:

  • Faro Municipal Tampico. This faux lighthouse stands in the median of federal highway 70 at the western edge of Tampico. The lighthouse was formerly painted with black and white spiral bands, as seen in a photo by Jorge Luis Ramírez. Google has a street view and a satellite view.

Adjoining pages: North: Texas | South: Veracruz

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Posted December 2004. Checked and revised September 11, 2017. Lighthouses: 18. Site copyright 2017 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.