History of Banos de Coamo

The Taino's who inhabited Puerto Rico before the arrival of Christopher Columbus and the Spanish conquistadors were the first people to discover the hot spring waters of Coamo. According to local legend, the first governor of Puerto Rico Juan Ponce de Leon, heard about the healing powers of the Ba�os from the Tainos. Believing that the baths were the Fountain of Youth which he was seeking, Ponce de Leon asked where they were located, however he misunderstood the instructions given to him and instead headed by sea towards a new land which resulted in the discovery of Florida and his death. During the mid-16th century the word spread among the Spanish settlers of the healing powers of the six sulfur-rich spring waters and as a consequence, many of the settlers began to make the regular journeys from San Juan to the mountainous region to enjoy what they believed were the benefits of said waters.

In 1847, Andr�s G. Luhring, an entrepreneur from Ponce, built the first structures in "Los Ba�os". He built a guest house (hostel) made of wood in front of the baths to house the frequent visitors. He later had the main guest house built of stone and wood. Luhring had barriers placed around the baths which provided the visitors with privacy while bathing. Luhring lacked the necessary capital to continue operations and sold his interest in the same to a native Coame�o, Jos� Usera Soriano who in 1857 built an elegant 20-room hotel out of brick, rubble masonry and wood.

When the United States invaded Puerto Rico as a result of the Spanish-American War, the town of Coamo was involved in what is known as the Battle of Coamo during the Puerto Rico Campaign. Lieutenant Colonel Rafael Martinez-Illesas of the Spanish Army with 248 Spanish and Puerto Rican troops under his command held the Ba�os de Coamo. General James H. Wilson ordered the 3rd and 4th Regular Pennsylvania Artillery to provide artillery support for the frontal assault on the Ba�os, while Troop C covered