This original press photo from the Chicago Sun Times newspaper that is now in the collection of Lighthouse Digest is dated January 14, 1961. It shows Cuban military forces at the base of the Morro Castle where the Morro Lighthouse stands in Havana getting ready for an invasion from the United States.
The caption with the photo reads, “The lighthouse at Morro Castle Prison stands behind an anti-aircraft battery in downtown Havana at the waterfront in preparation for an invasion from the United States.” They weren’t too far off. A few months later on April 17, 1961, the failed Bay of Pigs invasion took place. It is believed that some of the Cuban patriots captured by Fidel Castro’s forces were later held prisoner at the Morro Castle Prison.
In the days before Castro took over Cuba, the Morro Castle was a popular spot for American tourists. In more recent times, it has again become a popular spot for tourists, but very few Americans have visited the lighthouse in our lifetime. In 1898, during the short Spanish-American War, for a brief time American military forces occupied the fort and the lighthouse. The lighthouse was built in 1845 and parts of fort date back to 1589.
Also shown here from the Lighthouse Digest collection is one of the many vintage post cards of the Morro Castle and Morro Castle Lighthouse that were produced from the early 1900s to 1958. Cuba was ruled by Dictator Fulgencio Batista from 1952 until 1959 when he was overthrown by Fidel Castro.
This story appeared in the
Jul/Aug 2013 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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