This steel structure stands 125 above the ground, surrounded by verdant foliage. Today, the bridge’s name seems a bit inaccurate—but it makes sense once you know its history.
During the Spanish rule of the late 19th century, construction began on a railroad bridge as part of the development of a route connecting San Juan with the town of Aguadilla. Back then, a river flowed through the ravine where the bridge was being erected. The Spanish term bellaca means something that is strong, just like the river’s powerful currents. For this reason, the Spaniards named the structure Puente la Bellaca.
But the bridge was never finished due to the Spanish-American War of 1898. When the United States gained control of Puerto Rico, the American Railroad Company developed the bridge as part of a route that circled the island along its coast, finishing it by 1906. The structure retained its brick and mortar piles built during the Spanish rule, which had a French architectural pattern because the Spaniards employed a French workforce for big construction projects.
As time passed, the railroad route surrounding the island became a casualty of the belief that new technology is always better. As a result, the bridge no longer serves its original purpose, but still stands today. Currently, it operates a pipe system controlled by the Water and Sewage Authority and continues being supported by its original brick and mortar piles.
In recent years, the bridge has become a tourist spot for its imposing views of the surrounding foliage and the Atlantic Ocean. While the river no longer exists, visitors can imagine how intimidating it must have been while standing hundreds of feet above.
Know Before You Go
If you're visiting for the first time, reaching the bridge may be a little tricky even with the GPS, so don't hesitate to ask for directions if necessary. There are two routes and both require going on foot, one of them through another popular tourist spot, Puerto Hermina. Be very careful on the bridge, the path is narrow and only two rails keep visitors from falling. Travelers with children should take extra caution.