Lighthouses of Mexico: Northern Gulf Coast

This page describes lighthouses of the northeastern corner of Mexico including the state of Tamaulipas and the Huasteca regions in the northern portion of the state of Veracruz. This coast, facing east on the Gulf of Mexico, consists mostly of sandy barrier islands and beaches similar to the coast of neighboring southern Texas. The important ports of Altamira and Tampico are at the extreme southern end of Tamaulipas and the port of Tuxpan is the Huasteca region of Veracruz.

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 Capt. Peter Mosselberger ("Capt. Peter").
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.
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

Lighthouses of Tamaulipas

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. Leonel Muri's 2017 photo is at right, ISNI has a photo of the new lighthouse, Daniel Padilla has a 2018 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. Daniel Padilla has a distant view, 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. The light does mark the easternmost bulge of the coastline. 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. Daniel Padilla has a fine 2018 photo, and Google has a satellite view. ISNI has a photo of the nearly completed tower and another ISNI 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 white concrete tower with gallery; gallery painted blue. 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.

Río Bravo Light, Matamoros, April 2017
ex-Google Plus photo by Leonel Muri
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, a 2019 photo is available, 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. Benigno Gómez Garza has a photo (also seen at right), ISNI has a closeup of the top of the new lighthouse, and Google has a street view and a satellite view. A distant view of the original lighthouse is available. 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.

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 (no longer online) showed 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. A 2015 photo is available, Alejandro Aguilar has a 2019 photo, 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. Active light: CF-28-098; Admiralty J4232.5; NGA 15213.

La Pesca Light, Soto la Marina, July 2012
Google Maps photo by Benigno Gómez Garza

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. 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. The front light and middle light of this range are on short skeletal towers. NGA lists the middle light erroneously as the rear light. 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.
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, Ranulfo Martinez has a 2019 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, 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 a street view and 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 a street view and 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.

Lighthouses of Northern Veracruz

Huasteca Alta Region Lighthouses
Tampico Escollera Sur (South Breakwater) (2)
Date unknown (station established 1912). Active; focal plane 10 m (33 ft); green flash every 5 s. 7 m (23 ft) square white concrete skeletal tower with a central post. Trabas has Capt. Peter's closeup photo and Google has a satellite view and a distant street view from the north breakwater. Located at the end of the south breakwater at the entrance to the Río Pánuco at Tampico (the north side of the river is in Tamaulipas state). Accessible only by boat (the south breakwater is not walkable). Site and tower closed. CF-28-655; Admiralty J4241; NGA 15236.
Arrecife Blanquilla
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 10 m (33 ft); white flash every 6 s. 9.5 m (31 ft) square cylindrical concrete tower with gallery, painted orange and mounted on a square concrete pier. No photo available but Bing has a distant satellite view. Not to be confused with the two Arrecife Blanquilla lights on the Veracruz Reefs (see below). Located on a reef 12 km (7.5 mi) northeast of the Isla de Lobos lighthouse (next entry). Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. CF-30-480; Admiralty J4249; NGA 15280.
Isla de Lobos (3)
Date unknown (station established 1895). Active; focal plane 32 m (105 ft); white flash every 5 s. 30 m (98 ft) white concrete tower with lantern and gallery. This lighthouse appears to be a sibling of El Palmar, Yucatán. This is a staffed station. An aerial photo is at right, Radio Club Satélite has a photo on a QSL card, Héctor Bohoslavsky has a distant view and a street view from atop the tower, and Google has a satellite view. Lighthouse Digest has a historic photo of the 1899 cast iron lighthouse. The lighthouse guides vessels around Cabo Rojo, a very prominent cape in northern Veracruz. The island is located about 15 km (9 mi) southeast of the cape. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower apparently open with permission of the attendent. ARLHS MEX-035; CF-30-465.1; Admiralty J4250; NGA 15276.

Isla de Lobos Light, Huasteca Alta
photo by Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas (CONANP)

Huasteca Baja Region (Tuxpan Municipality) Lighthouses
Arrecife Tanguijo (Tanhuijo)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 11 m (36 ft); three white flashes every 12 s. 10.5 m (35 ft) round concrete tower mounted on a large square concrete base. Entire lighthouse is orange. A photo and a second photo are available and Google has a satellite view. Located on a reef about 25 km (15 mi) north of the Tuxpan entrance. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS MEX-001; CF-30-450; Admiralty J4253; NGA 15288.
Arrecife Tuxpan
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 11 m (36 ft); three white flashes every 12 s. 11 m (36 ft) round concrete tower mounted on a large square concrete base. Entire lighthouse is orange. Trabas has Capt. Peter's photo, another photo is available, Ere Rodriguez has a distant 2017 view, and Google has a distant satellite view. Located on a reef about 13 km (8 mi) northeast of the Tuxpan entrance. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. CF-30-445; Admiralty J4254; NGA 15292.
La Barra (Tuxpan, Túxpam, Faro de Recalada) (2)
Date unknown (1930s?) (station established 1895). Approx. 18 m (59 ft) round unpainted concrete tower. Capt. Peter's photo is at right, Lighthouse Digest has a historic photo, there's a historic photo of the view from the lighthouse, and Google has a satellite view. Located on the north side of the entrance to the Río Túxpan in Barra Norte about 200 m (220 yd) south of the modern lighthouse (next entry). Site and tower closed (Mexican Navy property).
* La Barra (Tuxpan, Túxpam, Faro de Recalada) (3)
Date unknown (station established 1895). Active; focal plane 24 m (79 ft); four white flashes every 7 s. 22 m (72 ft) concrete block tower with lantern and double gallery, attached to a 1-story keeper's cottage. Lighthouse painted white; the lantern roof is red. Trabas has Capt. Peter's closeup photo (also ssen below right) and Google has a street view and a satellite view. Located on the north side of the entrance to the Río Túxpan in Barra Norte. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS MEX-136; CF-30-375; Admiralty J4255; NGA 15304.
El Cocal (2)
2017. Active; focal plane 34 m (112 ft); red flash every 3 s. Approx. 31 m (102 ft) triangular skeletal tower with gallery, painted white. Trabas has Capt. Peter's photo and the long shadow of the tower is seen in Bing's satellite view. Google's 2014 street view shows an earlier, shorter tower. Located on a pier on the north side of the river in downtown Túxpan. Site and tower probably closed. CF-30-416; Admiralty J4258.4.

Second La Barra Light, Tuxpan, November 2018
photo copyright Capt. Peter Mosselberger; used by permission
North Bank Range 1 Front (2)
2018. Active; focal plane about 26 m (85 ft); white light, 1 s on, 1 s off. Approx. 25 m (82 ft) square pyramidal skeletal tower with gallery, painted white. The tower also carries an orange daymark. Trabas has Capt. Peter's photo. Google has an indistinct satellite view of the original lighthouse. Located on the north bank of the river 250 m (1/8 mi) west of the rear light. Site status unknown. CF-30-405; Admiralty J4259; NGA 15308.
* North Bank Range 1 Rear (2)
2018. Active; focal plane about 35 m (115 ft); white light, 1 s on, 1 s off. Approx. 33 m (105 ft) square pyramidal skeletal tower with gallery, painted white. The tower also carries an orange daymark. Trabas has Capt. Peter's photo. Google has a street view and an indistinct satellite view of the original lighthouse. Located on the Carretera Barra Norte about 3 km (2 mi) west of the harbor entrance. Site status unknown, but the tower is easy to see from the street. CF-30-405.1; Admiralty J4259.1; NGA 15312.
* North Bank Range 2 Rear
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 17 m (56 ft); white light, 1 s on, 1 s off. 16 m (52 ft) square pyramidal skeletal tower painted white and carrying a slatted orange daymark. Trabas has Capt. Peter's photo and Google has a street view and an indistinct satellite view. The front light is on a similar tower 12 m (39 ft) tall. Located near the north bank of the river behind the Hotel Paraíso. Site open, tower closed. CF-30-410.1; Admiralty J4259.21; NGA 15316.1.
* North Bank Range 3 Rear
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 16 m (52 ft); white light, 1 s on, 1 s off. 15 m (49 ft) square pyramidal skeletal tower painted white and carrying a slatted orange daymark. Trabas has Capt. Peter's photo and Google has a street view and an indistinct satellite view. The front light is on a similar tower 12 m (39 ft) tall. Located on the north bank of the river next to the main highway at the western entrance to Túxpan. Site open, tower closed. CF-30-415.1; Admiralty J4259.25.
* Seminario
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 15 m (49 ft); white flash every 5 s. 13 m (43 ft) triangular skeletal tower painted black and carrying a series of red daymarks. Trabas has Capt. Peter's photo but the light is hard to find in Google's satellite view. Located on the south bank of the river off the Carratera Cobos. Site open, tower closed. CF-30-418; Admiralty J4259.32; NGA 15318.

Third (active) La Barra Light, Tuxpan, November 2018
photo copyright Capt. Peter Mosselberger; used by permission
 
* Cobos (2)
2018. Active; focal plane about 22 m (72 ft); green flash every 3 s. Approx. 20 m (66 ft) triangular skeletal tower painted black and carrying a series of red daymarks. Trabas has Capt. Peter's photo. Google has a closeup street view of the original light, which was 12.5 (41 ft) tall, and Bing has a satellite view. Located on the south bank of the river off the Carratera Cobos. Site open, tower closed. CF-30-417; Admiralty J4259.3; NGA 15317.
Etileno Range Rear
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 17 m (56 ft); white light, 1 s on, 1 s off. 16 m (52 ft) square pyramidal skeletal tower painted white and carrying a series of red daymarks. Trabas has Capt. Theo Hinrich's photo and Google has a street view and an indistinct satellite view. The front light is on a similar tower 12 m (39 ft) tall. Located on the south bank of the river opposite the naval base. Site open, tower closed. CF-30-418.2; Admiralty J4259.291.
Tuxpan Entrance Range Front (2)
2017. Active; focal plane 22 m (72 ft); white flash every 3 s. 22 m (72 ft) triangular skeletal tower with gallery, painted white. Trabas has Capt. Peter's photo; it also shows the older tower, which may have been removed. Google has a satellite view and a very distant street view from across the river. Located on the south side of the Río Túxpan in La Moderna. Site status unknown. CF-30-400; Admiralty J4258; NGA 15305.
Tuxpan Entrance Range Rear (2)
2017. Active; focal plane 28 m (92 ft); white light, 1 s on, 1 s off. 28 m (92 ft) triangular skeletal tower with gallery, painted white. Trabas has Capt. Peter's photo and Google has a satellite view. Located 270 m (885 ft) west southwest of the front light. Site status unknown. CF-30-400.1; Admiralty J4258.1; NGA 15306.

Information available on lost lighthouses

Notable faux lighthouses:

Adjoining pages: North: South Texas | South: Central Gulf Coast

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Posted December 2004. Checked and revised September 9, 2019. Lighthouses: 35. Site copyright 2019 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.