American Forts: East

PUERTO RICO

Aguadilla Barracks | Aguadilla Res. | Fort Allen | Fort Amezquita | Ballajá Barracks
Borinquen Field | Fort Brooke | Camp Buchanan | Fort Buchanan | Fort Charles W. Bundy
Cabras Island Res. | Fuerte El Cañuelo | Caparra | Fuerte Capron | Casa Blanca
Coamo Blockhouse | Fortin Conde de Marasol | Culebra Island Batteries | Dominican Convent
Fortin del Espigón | La Fortaleza | Camp Garcia | Henry Barracks | Camp Henry | Camp James
Camp Las Casas | Lane's Fort | Camp Losey | Fort Mascaro | Mayaguez Res.
Camp Miles | El Morro Castle | Camp O'Reilly | Ponce Res. | Punta Congrejos Res.
Punta Escambrón Res. | Punta Figuras Firing Range | Punta Salinas Res. | Fuerte San Antonio
Castillo de San Cristóbal | Castillo de San Felipe del Morro
Fuerte San Gerónimo de Boquerón | San Gerónimo Powderhouse | San Juan Arsenal
Fuerte San Juan de la Cruz | San Juan Military Res. | Santa Catalina Palace | Santa Isabel Field
Camp Salinas | Salinas Field | Camp Santiago | Camp Tortuguero | Vega Baja Field
Vieques Island Batteries

WWII Air Defense Radar Stations
(NOT INDEXED)

THE SPANISH-AMERICAN WAR IN PUERTO RICO
THE SPANISH-AMERICAN WAR IN PUERTO RICO (en español)

WELCOME TO PUERTO RICO

Last Update: 22/MAY/2010
Compiled by Pete Payette - ©2010 American Forts Network

¤ TEMPORARY HARBOR DEFENSES of MAYAGUEZ

¤ Mayaguez Military Reservation
(1941 - 1946), near Mayaguez
Battery Algarrobo, a four-gun 155mm battery on Panama mounts, was located three miles northwest from the city.


Aguadilla Barracks
(1903 - 1921), Aguadilla
A U.S. Army garrison post until transferred to the local defense force.
(thanks to Marshall Sitrin for additional info)


¤¤ TEMPORARY HARBOR DEFENSES of AGUADILLA

¤¤ Aguadilla Military Reservation
(1941 - 1946), near Aguadilla
Battery Aguada, a four-gun 155mm battery on Panama mounts, was located 4.5 miles southwest from town. The battery site is currently owned by the Puerto Rico Dept. of Natural Resources.


Borinquen Field
(1939 - 1973), Borinquen
A U.S. Army Air Force field. The airbase later became Ramey Air Force Base in 1948. Now a local airport. It has the longest runway in the Caribbean region (11,700 feet).

Camp Tortuguero
(1940 ? - 1944 ?), near Vega Baja
A Puerto Rico National Guard training camp, used by the 295th and 296th Infantry Regiments.

The Vega Baja Auxiliary Field (1941 - 1956) was built by the U.S. Army Air Corps. The site was used by the PR National Guard from 1956 until 1975 for training purposes.


¤ COLONIAL FORTS of SAN JUAN
Map of Old San Juan Attractions

¤ Fuerte El Cañuelo
(San Juan National Historic Site)
(1610 - 1625, 1670's - unknown), Isla de Cabras
This fort at the entrance to San Juan Harbor was originally a wooden structure which was destroyed by the Dutch in 1625. The present structure, Fuerte San Juan de la Cruz, was built of stone in the 1670's. Public access to the old fort's interior is currently restricted. During World War II, Fort Amezquita was established nearby (see listing below).

¤ El Morro Castle
(San Juan National Historic Site)
(1539 - 1966), Old San Juan
Castillo de San Felipe del Morro towers 140 feet above the sea. It is a six-level maze of tunnels, dungeons, barracks, outposts and ramps covering 200 acres. Admission fee. Attacked by the English under Francis Drake in 1595 but repulsed. The fort was captured only once - by land, in 1598 by the English and held for three months. Attacked by the Dutch in 1625 but repulsed again, although the city itself was sacked. Most of the present fortifications were built between 1587 and the 1650's. The original fort was a large square tower with a circular gun battery at the water, completed in the 1580's, although its first guns were installed in the 1550's. The original Hornwork was constructed in 1589, with two half-bastions (Tejada/Ochoa and Austria) and a ravelin. The "V"-shaped Santa Barbara Battery comprises the third level of the fortress behind the old Water Battery. The Carmen Battery is on the fourth level facing the sea. The small Texada Battery faces the sea below Carmen Battery. The Santa Elena Battery, built in 1586, was located outside the Hornwork, between it and Casa Blanca. The last improvements to the fortress were made in 1790. In WWI the U.S. Army had emplaced two 4.7-inch Armstrong guns here, one at El Morro and the other at Battery Santa Elena. Those guns were scrapped in 1919. The old fortress was a component of Fort Brooke in WWII (see listing below).

¤ City Walls (La Muralla)
(San Juan National Historic Site)
(1634), Old San Juan
Construction began in 1634 after the Dutch sacked the city in 1625. It was essentially completed between 1638 and 1650, but minor work continued until 1678. The wall is composed of two 42-foot high parallel sandstone walls with the space between filled with sand. It surrounds and fortifies the old city and once included five gates, the last one remaining is San Juan Gate (1790's) near La Fortaleza. Some of the wall was dynamited near San Cristóbal Castle to allow the city to expand in the 1890's. Portions of the wall have disintegrated due to erosion (hurricanes) and poor maintenance over the years.

¤ La Fortaleza
(1533 - 1846), Old San Juan
Also known as the Palacio de Santa Catalina, part of this mansion was originally built as a defense against native Indians, which consisted of a medievel-style castle with a round tower. It was originally completed in 1540. A second tower (Austral Tower) was built in the 1590's. The rest of the structure was built in 1846 to serve as the governor's palace. It is the oldest executive mansion in the Western Hemisphere still in use. The fort was captured by the English in 1598, and burned the Dutch in 1625 when they failed to take El Morro Castle. The island's governor (Captain-General) has typically lived here since 1640. The original tower, Torre del Homenaje, still stands, so named for the tradition of the resident governor to climb to the top to pledge a solemn oath of loyalty and courage during dangerous times. Partial public access during group tours.

¤ Casa Blanca (Museum)
(1523, 1779 - 1966), Old San Juan
The "White House" was a square stronghouse (casa fuerte), originally the home of the family and decendants of Juan Ponce de Léon, the island's first governor. Since 1779 this building has been the military headquarters of the Spanish and then the Americans. It was used as the Governor's Mansion after WWII. It is now a museum. Admission fee.

¤ Convento de los Dominicos
(1898 - 1966), Old San Juan
The Dominican Convent was originally built in 1523. It was used in WWII as the administrative headquarters of Fort Brooke and the U.S. Army Caribbean (Antilles) Command. It is now a museum.

¤ El Arsenal
(1791 - unknown), Old San Juan
Originally built by the Spanish navy. Later became a defensive citadel for the naval base. This was the last Spanish post in the city captured by the U.S. Army in 1898. It is now a museum and cultural center.

¤ Cuartel de Ballajá
(1854 - 1943), Old San Juan
The Ballajá Barracks were originally built as Spanish infantry barracks for 1000 men to ease overcrowding at the forts. It is a three-story square building with large gates on two ends, ample balconies, designed with a series of arches and a protected central courtyard that served as a plaza and covers a reservoir. Facilities included Officers' quarters, warehouses, kitchens, dining rooms, prison cells and stables. After the Spanish-American War, the U.S. Army used Ballajá to house its infantry division. In 1943 it was converted into a military medical facility, known as the Rodriguez Hospital, part of Fort Brooke. Today it is used by the University of Puerto Rico, and it also houses the Museum of the Americas (opened October 12, 1992) on the second floor.

¤ San Cristóbal Castle
(San Juan National Historic Site)
(1634 - 1961), Old San Juan
Castillo de San Cristóbal rises 150 feet above the sea and features five separate units covering 27 acres. Admission fee. Although connected by moats and tunnels, each unit is self-sufficient in case any of the others should fall to the enemy. Earlier fortifications were located here in 1625. Originally built as a small redoubt with adjoining earthen ramparts, known as Fortin del Espigón. Substantially rebuilt in 1765, completed by 1783 as the second largest Spanish fortress in North America. Its main purpose was to defend the town from land attacks from the east. Its main section was a hornwork that essentially continues the walls surrounding the city. In front of the hornwork were three fortifications: the San Carlos and Santiago ravelins, and the Trinidad counterguard, surrounded by a dry moat. Beyond the moat was a sizable plaza de armas that led out to a strong fort whose arrow-shape led it to be called El Abanico (the Fan). Seaward from El Abanico are Santa Teresa, a battery aimed at the ocean, and La Princesa, whose guns could fire towards the sea and land. The highest part of San Cristóbal was the caballero (cavalier), a large gun platform on top of the hornwork. The British attacked in 1797 but were repulsed at the Escambron Line. This fort fired the first shot of the Spanish-American War in Puerto Rico. Spanish batteries here in 1898 were Battery Princesa and Battery St. Teresa. In WWI the American Army had emplaced one 4.7-inch Armstrong gun at Battery Princesa. The gun was scrapped in 1919. Two American World War II artillery fire-control towers were built on the walls of this fortress. A 155mm gun battery on Panama mounts was also here, built on Battery Princesa. The old fortress was a component of Fort Brooke in WWII (see listing below).

¤ Fuerte San Gerónimo de Boquerón (Historic Monument)
(1791 - 1797, 1799 - 1910's ?), San Juan
Originally the site of a four-gun battery in 1609. Continuously rebuilt and enlarged throughout the 18th century. The British fleet attacked the city in 1797 with 60 ships and 3,900 troops, but were repulsed. The severely damaged fort was rebuilt in 1799. The present structure is now a military history museum operated by the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture, located adjacent to the Caribe Hilton Hotel in the Puerta de Tierra area. The grounds here at Boquerón Beach offer a great view of the Condado area. In WWII Battery 263 was located nearby (see Fort Brooke listing below).

Near here at Punta Escambrón was the site of a three-gun Spanish battery from 1898, and another much older Spanish battery was located on a small hill to the east.

¤ Polvorin de San Gerónimo
(1769 - unknown), San Juan
The San Gerónimo Powderhouse was one of four brick and masonry magazines built by the Spanish. The rectangular building features a vaulted interior supported on both sides by ten massive buttresses. In 1935 it was used as the Museum of Natural History, then became a zoo in 1945. It was restored in 1994 by the Puerto Rico National Parks Trust. Located within Luis Muñoz Rivera Park in the Puerta de Tierra area.

¤ Fuerte San Antonio
(unknown dates), San Juan
A Spanish fort located southwest of Fort San Gerónimo near the San Antonio Bridge. It played a role in conjunction with Fort San Gerónimo against a British attack in 1797. Still shown on 1898 battle maps.


¤¤ HARBOR DEFENSES of SAN JUAN

¤¤ Fort Brooke
(1903 - 1949/1966), Old San Juan
This was the U.S. Army's main garrison post, centered mainly around the historic El Morro and San Cristóbal Castles. Originally known as the San Juan Military Reservation. Renamed in 1943. The Americans built a harbor entrance control post (HECP) and Battery Point (a three-inch gun mounted on a 4.7-inch Armstrong gunblock) on the old El Morro fortress, as well as three fire-control stations (one still exists). Located at San Cristóbal Castle were two fire-control stations (still here), and a 155mm gun battery on Panama mounts. The old Ballajá Barracks became the Fort Brooke Hospital in 1943. Most of the historic areas were transferred to the NPS in 1949.

¤¤ Punta Escambrón Military Reservation
(1941 - 1949), Puerta de Tierra
Located here was Battery Schwan / 263 (1942 - 1949, destroyed 1965) at Punta Escambrón near Fort San Gerónimo. A hotel swimming pool is now on the site.

¤¤ Punta Congrejos Military Reservation
(1941 - 1946), near San Juan
Located here was Battery Lancaster / 264 (1942 - 1946) at Boca de (Punta) Congrejos, north of the east-end of the runway at Luis Muñoz International Airport. The battery was used as an aquarium from 1970 - 1975. Site is now private businesses and restaurants.

¤¤ Fort Amezquita
(1941 - 1948), Isla de Cabras
World War II batteries here were Battery Reed (1941 - 1948), a 155mm Panama-mounted gun battery, and an Anti Motor Torpedo Boat battery. A harbor entrance control post (HECP) with an SCR-582 radar was also located here. Originally known as the Cabras Island Military Reservation until 1943. This site is now used as a local police training area and shooting range.

¤¤ Fort Mascaro
(1941 - 1948/present), near Toa Baja
World War II seacoast batteries here are Battery Buckey / 261 at Punta (Point) Salinas, and Battery Pence / 262 on East Salinas Island. Two fire-control towers were once located on Punta Salinas. Originally known as the Punta Salinas Military Reservation until 1943. The fort is now in use as a PR Air National Guard radar site.

¤¤ ALSO: Additional fire-control towers for the San Juan Defenses were once located at Vacia Talega, Punta Maldonado, Punta Maria (four), and Punta Escambrón, all east of Old San Juan. Those located west of Old San Juan were at Punta Fraile, and Punta Cerro Gordo. Battery Punta Cataño (1942 - 1943) was located in Cataño. None remain.


Camp Las Casas
(1908 - 1946 ?), San Juan
A training camp for the Puerto Rico Regiment of Infantry (later the U.S. Army 65th Infantry Regiment). Located in the Santurce area. Became a public housing project in 1950.

Caparra (Archaeological Site)
(1508 - 1521), Caparra
The site of the first permanent European settlement on San Juan Island, known as La Ciudad de Puerto Rico. The foundation ruins of a casa fuerte, or stronghouse, are located here, built by Juan Ponce de León, the first governor of the colony. The town and capital was abandoned for San Juan due to poor defense against the native Indians. Sometime later (1746 ?) the names for the city and the island were switched. Public access to the site is allowed. Nearby is the Museum of the Conquest and Colonization of Puerto Rico. Located on PR 2 at km marker 6.3 near Guaynabo.

Fort Buchanan (U.S. Military Reservation)
(1923 - 2003/present), Bayamón
Originally known as Camp Miles until 1926. Redesignated a fort in 1940. Permanent structures built in WWII. It was the main garrison post of the U.S. Army's Antilles (Caribbean) Command after WWII, until 1966. The post was then under U.S. Navy control from 1966 to 1971. Became the headquarters post of the U.S. Army South Command (transferred from Panama) from 1998 to 2002. Still in use by the Army Reserve.

Camp O'Reilly
(1940's), near Gurabo
A WWII training camp for the PR National Guard.


¤¤¤ HARBOR DEFENSES of ROOSEVELT ROADS and VIEQUES SOUND (partial)
(see also Fort Segarra, USVI)

¤¤¤ Fort Charles W. Bundy
(1943 - 1947/2004), Ensenada Honda, near Ceiba
World War II seacoast defense batteries on the mainland planned but not built were Battery 152 at Punta Mata Redonda, Battery 155 at Punta Yeguas, Battery 311 at Cabo (Cape) San Juan, and an Anti Motor Torpedo Boat Battery. The fort was officially named in 1944.

Batteries that WERE built included Battery 406 (1943 - 1947) at Punta Mata Redonda (the magazine was not built, battery now overgrown); Battery 265, with an SCR-296 radar, on Isla Piñeros; Battery 268 (1943 - 1947, never armed) at Punta Lima (site now a prison); a two-gun 155mm Panama mounted gun battery at Punta Yeguas; and an Anti Motor Torpedo Boat Battery and harbor entrance control post (with SCR-582 radar) at Punta Algodones.

The Roosevelt Roads Naval Operating Base was established in 1943, intended to be the major American naval base in the Caribbean region (the Atlantic's "Pearl Harbor"). Construction was suspended in 1944. The former Army post became the southern section of the Naval Station when it was reactivated in 1957. The Naval Base closed in 2004. The area is slated for future commercial development.

¤¤¤ Vieques Island Batteries
(1943), Vieques Island
The following World War II seacoast defenses were planned for Vieques Island but never built: Battery 153 on Mt. Pirata, Battery 154 at Cerro Matias Jalobre, Battery 266 at Cerro Martineau or Punta Mulas, Battery 267 at Punta Arenas or Mt. Pirata, and Battery 285 on East Point (Punta Este). Most of Vieques Island became a U.S. Navy/Marine base and a gunnery and bombing range in 1940 (renamed MCAS Camp Garcia in 1959), which was closed down in 2003 after public protests.

¤¤¤ Culebra Island Batteries
(1943), Culebra Island
These World War II seacoast defenses were planned but never built - Battery 312 at North Point, and Battery 313 at Dolphin Head. Culebra Island became a U.S. Navy gunnery and bombing range in 1940, which was closed down in 1975.

¤¤¤ ALSO: Coast Artillery fire-control towers were once located at Punta Puerca and at several other locations on the former Roosevelt Roads U.S. Naval Base. A lookout tower is located on Icacos Island (according to current tourist guides), but it may possibly be a Civilian Conservation Corps-built tower from the 1930's.


Fortin Conde de Marasol (Historic Monument)
(1845 - unknown), Isabel Segunda, Isla de Vieques
This star-shaped fort sits on a hilltop overlooking the town. It was one of the last Spanish forts built in the New World. It later became a municipal jail until closed in the 1940's. Restoration began in 1989. Now home to the Vieques Museum of Art and History.

Punta Figuras Firing Range
(1940's), Arroyo
A Coast Artillery anti-aircraft gun training site during WWII.

Henry Barracks
(1899 - 1956 ?), Cayey
Originally a Puerto Rico Volunteer Infantry Regiment post named Camp Henry. Later became a U.S. Army infantry post in 1908 (for the 65th Infantry Regiment) and renamed. Now the campus of the University of Puerto Rico at Cayey (since 1967).

Salinas Auxiliary Field
(1940's), near Salinas
A former U.S. Army Air Corps auxiliary air field located two miles east of the city. Now the NHRA Puerto Rico International Speedway.

Camp Santiago (Military Reservation)
(1940 - present), near Salinas
A PR National Guard training center and bombing range. Originally named Camp Salinas until 1975. Collazo Air Field is also located here. The Puerto Rico National Guard Museum is located on post.

Camp James
(unknown dates), near Salinas
A former U.S. Army post located north of the city. (same as Camp Salinas ?)

Santa Isabel Auxiliary Field
(1942 - 1946), near Santa Isabel
A former U.S. Army Air Corps auxiliary field. Became a civilian airstrip after the war. Now abandoned (?).

Coamo Blockhouse
(1898), Coamo
A Spanish outpost captured by the U.S. Army. It was a wooden farm building surrounded by trenches and barbed wire. There were several additional small blockhouses and guard posts around here as well.

Fort Allen (Military Reservation)
(1941 - 1999 ?/present), near Juana Díaz
Originally Losey Army Air Field (1941 - 1944). Transferred to the Army Ground Forces in 1949 and became Camp Losey. Renamed in 1959. Became a U.S. Naval Radio Station from 1962 to 1980. In 1980 the post became an INS processing center for Haitian refugees. Transferred to the PR National Guard in 1983. Now home to the Puerto Rico National Guard Military Academy, Officer Candidates School, and NCO Academy, as well as serving as an Army Reserve supply depot.
(thanks to Maj. Hector Gonzalez, PRNG, for info)


¤ TEMPORARY HARBOR DEFENSES of PONCE

¤ Ponce Military Reservation
(1941 - 1944), Ponce
A four-gun 155mm battery on Panama mounts was located 1.5 miles west of Ponce Harbor, the site of which is now a water sewage treatment plant.
(thanks to Marshall Sitrin for info)


Ralph Lane's Fort
(1585), Guayanilla
An English fort that was said to be identical in layout to Fort Raleigh, NC. The English stopped here to pick up fresh water and foodstuffs, and did a little pirating against the Spanish, before heading north to the American mainland to establish the first English colony in the New World.

Fuerte Capron
(Bosque Estatal de Guánica)
(unknown dates), near Guánica
Ruins of a Spanish lookout tower/fort are located on a three mile-long trail within the Guánica Public Forest, a 10,000 acre subtropical dry forest and wilderness preserve. A 1930's CCC observation tower is also here.

This area may have been the location where Christopher Columbus first set foot in Puerto Rico in November 1493 (also claimed by the town of Aguada).

WWII Air Defense Radar Stations
(1942 - 1945), various locations
During WWII there were at least five sites around the island that were emplaced with the U.S. Army's SCR-270 (mobile) or SCR-271 (fixed) early warning anti-aircraft radar sets (locations undetermined), operated by the Signal Corps' 559th Air Warning Battalion.


NEED MORE INFO: U.S. Army Camp James located north of Salinas.

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Eastern Forts