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Utuado, Puerto Rico


Utuado, Puerto Rico

Utuado, Puerto Rico
Ciudad del Viví
View of Utuado Pueblo from barrio Sabana Grande
View of Utuado Pueblo from barrio Sabana Grande
Flag of Utuado, Puerto Rico
Nickname(s): "La Ciudad del Viví", "Los Montañeses"
Anthem: "Valle Bendito El De Mi Otoao"
Location of Utuado in Puerto Rico
Location of Utuado in Puerto Rico
Country  United States
Territory  Puerto Rico
Founded 1739
 • Mayor Ernesto Irizarry Salvá (PPD)
 • Senatorial dist. 5 - Ponce
 • Total 297.83 km2 (114.99 sq mi)
 • Land 293.83 km2 (113.45 sq mi)
Population (2010)
 • Total 33,149
 • Density 110/km2 (290/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Utuadeños
Time zone AST (UTC-4)
Zip code 00641, 00611
Area code (787) 894; (787) 814

Utuado (Spanish pronunciation: ) is a municipality of Puerto Rico located in the central-western mountainous region of the island known as La Cordillera Central. It is located north of Adjuntas and Ponce; south of Hatillo and Arecibo; east of Lares; and west of Ciales and Jayuya. In land area it is the third-largest municipality in Puerto Rico (after Arecibo and Ponce). According to the 2000 US Census, the city has a population of 35,336 spread over 24 wards and Utuado Pueblo (the downtown area and the administrative center of the city). The name Utuado derives from the Taíno word Otoao, meaning "between mountains". The municipality is known as La Ciudad del Viví meaning "The City of the Viví", given from the Viví River which runs through Utuado: one part of it comes from Adjuntas and the other from Jayuya. These two rivers then meet near the Fernando L. Ribas Dominicci Avenue and continue the journey to Lago Dos Bocas.

Utuado is the principal city of the Utuado micropolitan statistical area and is part of the San Juan-Caguas-Fajardo Combined Statistical Area.


  • History 1
    • Columbus's arrival 1.1
    • Early history: XVI-XVIII 1.2
    • Golden era of coffee - "black gold" 1.3
    • Massacre 1.4
    • Geography 1.5
    • Wards 1.6
  • Tourism 2
    • Landmarks and places of interest 2.1
  • Economy 3
    • Agriculture 3.1
    • Business 3.2
  • Government 4
  • Culture 5
    • Scouting 5.1
    • Sports 5.2
    • Festivals and events 5.3
  • Transportation 6
  • Education 7
    • Public 7.1
    • Private 7.2
    • College 7.3
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • Further reading 10
  • External links 11


Utuado was founded October 12, 1739, by Sebastian de Morfi, on behalf of 60 families from Arecibo. It was the first town established in the interior mountainous region of the island known as La Cordillera Central and the 11th oldest established municipality in Puerto Rico, following San Juan, San Germán, Coamo, Arecibo, Aguada, Loiza, Ponce, Añasco, Guayama and Manatí.

Columbus's arrival

At the time of the discovery of the island on November 19, 1493, by chieftains. The Utuado area was ruled over by cacique Guarionex. In barrio Caguana, the Taínos built a series of courts or bateyes, Caguana Ceremonial Ball Courts Site, that is considered the best example of Taino engineering in the West Indies.

Early history: XVI-XVIII

In his work El Dorado Borincano, La economia de la conquista 1510-1550, Jalil Sued Badillo gives a detailed account of the economic state of Puerto Rico during the first decades after the discovery and mentions the importance of the Otoao region. From 1510 through 1513, the island witnessed a Taíno rebellion as a result of harsh and inhumane treatment by the Spanish settlers. During the process of pacification many Spaniards settled in the area now occupied by the municipality of Utuado and set up farms (haciendas), initially on behalf of the Spanish government (Hacienda Real), to provide food to the Indian slaves working the gold mines and the Spanish colonists in the area. One of the first settlers in the Otoao region in 1512 was Antonio Sedeño, the island's bookkeeper. His farm's main crop was yuca. His farm was sold in 1519 to Blas de Villasante, the island's treasurer, for 525 gold pesos.

Areas in the Utuado region that were exploited for gold include Salto Arriba, initially, then later in the 1530s Caguana and Don Alonso. In the 1530s, landowners in the Don Alonso area petitioned the Spanish Crown permission to establish a town in the area but it was never granted.

Once the gold mining era ends toward the end of the 16th century, very little is known about the Utuado region until the early 18th century. According to the Puerto Rican historian Fernando Picó, the few documents that exist indicate the area was mostly unpopulated and densely forested. On the other hand, he states that Utuado is the municipality with the most caves, that most likely served as dwellings for Indians or runaway slaves.

"Utuado Street Scene" from Harper's Weekly May 13, 1899

The agreement to establish the town of Utuado by the 60 families of Arecibo states they purchased the "Hato de Otoao" for 569 pesos and 5 reales from owners Manuel Natal and Felipa Román. It also states their desire to choose where on the land the town center would be located, which indicates the area was not populated yet.

During his visit to the island in 1771, Fray Iñigo Abbad y Lasierra states the principal economic activity in the Utuado region was cattle raising, horses and mules. He mentions a small amount of agricultural activity existed but the population only produced enough tobacco and coffee for their own consumption.

During the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Utuado's population continued to grow as coffee gained in importance and growers saw the need for high altitudes and mountainous terrain to produce the best coffee beans. People not only migrated from the Puerto Rican coastal towns but also from Ireland (Founder Sebastian de Morfi = Sebastian Murphy), Canary Islands and the Balearic Islands of Majorca and Minorca, all seeking the riches that coffee had to offer.

Golden era of coffee - "black gold"

Utuado in 1896 during the coffee golden era

During the late 19th century Utuado experienced an explosive economic growth centered around the cultivation of coffee, also known at the time as oro negro or "black gold". By the 1890s Utuado was the largest producer of coffee in Puerto Rico and the second municipality (after Ponce) with the largest population. It produced a rich social life for many of its citizens and a casino and theatre were established in the town. The progress of the town was so evident that the regent Queen of Spain, María Cristina, honored the town with the title of Ciudad (City) on August 20, 1894.[1] In 1896 or 1897 Utuado was the first city in Puerto Rico with a public electric lighting system powered by a hydraulic turbine power plant,[2][3] and in that same year mayor Juan Casellas planned a train system to unite Utuado with Arecibo. By 1899 this golden era ended due to two events: the United States occupation of the island in 1898, which made sugar the new crop of importance instead of coffee (Utuado's mountainous landscape was not ideal for growing sugarcane, making it impossible for it to compete in the sugar industry), and Hurricane San Ciriaco in 1899, which destroyed the coffee haciendas.


El Imparcial headline: "Aviation (US) bombs Utuado"

One of the most tragic moments in Utuado's history occurred on October 30, 1950, during the Utuado Uprising against United States rule, which culminated in what is known as the "Utuado Massacre".[4] In Utuado a group of 32 nationalists, led by nationalist leaders Heriberto Castro and Damián Torres, fought against the local police during the independence revolts which occurred in various cities and towns of the island. The group was reduced to 12 men and retreated to the house of Damián Torres. Torres' residence was attacked by 50-caliber machine-gun fire from ten American P-47 Thunderbolt planes.[5] The National Guard arrived later that day and ordered the nine men who survived the attack to surrender. Once the nationalists surrendered they were forced to march down Dr. Cueto Street to the local town plaza where their shoes, belts and personal belongings were removed. The group was then taken behind the police station where they were machined gunned. Four of the nationalists died in the act, they were nationalist leader Heriberto Castro, Julio Colón Feliciano, Agustín Quiñones Mercado, Antonio Ramos and Antonio González. González, who was 17 years old, pleaded for water and instead was bayoneted to death.[4]



  • Ángeles[6]
  • Arenas
  • Caguana
  • Pueblo
  • Caonillas Abajo
  • Caonillas Arriba
  • Consejo
  • Don Alonso
  • Guaonico
  • Las Palmas
  • Limón
  • Mameyes
  • Paso Palma
  • Santa Rosa
  • Roncador
  • Sabana Grande
  • Salto Abajo
  • Salto Arriba
  • Santa Isabel
  • Tetuán 1
  • Tetuán 2
  • Viví Abajo
  • Viví Arriba


Landmarks and places of interest

Iglesia San Miguel Arcangel - established 1746

With narrow streets leading up to a central plaza surrounded by a church and the governor's house, Utuado Pueblo is an example of a town built during the Spanish Colonial era of Puerto Rico. The Iglesia San Miguel Arcangel, the local Catholic parish, was founded in 1746. The current double-steepled church was built between 1872 and 1878 and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, along with the Caguana Ceremonial Park and the Blanco Bridge or "Puente Blanco" located in barrio Arenas joining Utuado with Adjuntas. Other buildings in Utuado Pueblo that retain their colonial architectural features include The Center for Art, Culture and Tourism in the old Tobacco Coop building, the old hospital "Hospital Catalina Figueras and Teatro San Miguel, among others.

Lago Dos Bocas
Lago Caonillas in Barrio Don Alonso

The Rio Abajo State Forest (Bosque Estatal Rio Abajo) is a 5,780-acre (23 km2) forest reserve shared with Arecibo and home to 223 plants and wildlife species including: native ceiba (Ceiba pentandra), Asian teaks (Tectona spp.), West Indian mahogany (Swietenia mahagoni), Honduran mahogany (S. humilis) and Australian pines (Casuarina spp.). It is also home to the federally endangered Puerto Rican broad-winged hawk (Buteo platypterus brunnescens) as well as a captive population of the critically endangered Puerto Rican parrot (Amazona vittata). Captive parrots are slowly being released into Rio Abajo in an attempt to form a second population of parrots on the island.

East of the Rio Abajo Forest Reserve is Lago Dos Bocas, one of several man-made lakes in Utuado. From El Embarcadero, near routes 123 and 146, boats take guests around the water to one of the many restaurants for lakeside dining.

Lago Caonillas in the western region of Utuado is another man-made lake. This reservoir encompasses over 50 square miles (130 km2) and was constructed in 1948 by the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority.



View of Utuado Pueblo from Barrio Sabana Grande

Utuado has regained some of its coffee producing power and was the 3rd largest coffee producer in Puerto Rico in the 2002 USDA Agricultural Census. It also produces oranges (ranked 4th), plantains (ranked 6th) and bananas (ranked 9th). It has also been successful with livestock inventory ranking 3rd with hives of bees and 13th with pigs. In terms of manufacturing, Utuado has facilities producing textiles, paper and stone.


Utuado today is equipped with a modern and competitive telecommunications infrastructure. Major cell phone companies including Claro, AT&T, Sprint and Open Mobile offer mobile coverage, and Liberty Cablevision and DirecTV offer cable and satellite television service, respectively, with Spanish and English channels as well as high-speed Internet service. Most of the upper building in the University of Puerto Rico Utuado campus as well as the Recreational Plaza of Utuado are both set up with public Wi-Fi Internet access.


Like all municipalities in Puerto Rico, Utuado is administered by a mayor. The current mayor is Ernesto Irizarry Salvá, from the Popular Democratic Party (PPD). Irizarry was elected at the 2012 general election.

The city belongs to the Puerto Rico Senatorial district V, which is represented by two Senators. In 2012, Ramón Ruiz and Martín Vargas Morales, from the Popular Democratic Party, were elected as District Senators.[7]



For 50 years Boy Scouting has been active in Utuado with various Troops over the years changing its number from time to time. Currently, Troop 40, formed in 201, is the only Boy Scout Troop present in Utuado. The first Cub Scout Pack was formed around 2000 and since then, there have been four Cub Scout Packs with Pack 40 as the current one. There has been only one Venturing crew in Utuado formed in 2006, but failed sustainment afterwards. Girl Scouting is also present in Utuado with less than five Troops.


  • Baseball

The Montañeses de Utuado (English: Utuado Mountaineers) are a AA-league baseball team based in Utuado that competes in the Puerto Rico Amateur Baseball Federation. The team achieved its first national championship in 1941 under the then Federación Deportiva del Norte (English: Sports Federation of the North). Their second national championship was in 1970 under the current Federación de Béisbol Aficionado de Puerto Rico. The team won their third national championship on September 1, 2007 against the Bravos de Cidra (English: Cidra Braves).[8] On September 14, 2014, the Montañeses won their fourth national championship title against the Brujos de Guayama (English: Guayama Warlocks) winning the fourth and final game in a stunning 7-game final. The team's present-day owner is Adalberto Rodríguez.

  • Table Tennis

Utuado's table tennis players include sisters Adriana, Melanie, Gabriela and Fabiola Diaz, Bryan Afanador, Daniel González, Richard Pietri, Daniely Ríos and Yomar González, all members of the Águilas de la Montaña Table Tennis Club. Both Brian Afanador and Adriana Diaz, members of the International Table Tennis Federation World HOPES Team, have risen to prominence all over the Caribbean, Latin America and the world in their respective categories. The head coaches of the table tennis athletes are Bladimir Diaz and Eladio Afanador, the latter a high level performance program coach.

  • Rifle shooting

Paola Álvarez, Utuado's rifle shooting champion, started her shooting career in 2007. After one year, shooting the equivalent of 2 years of expert shooting in 6 months, she was offered a scholarship by the University of Puerto Rico at Ponce. Her sister, Fabiola, also a shooting champion, studies at the Albergue Olímpico de Salinas. Both sisters competed in Mayagüez 2010, the latter being the youngest athlete to compete at the event and any Central American and Caribbean Games at the age of 12.

  • Mayagüez 2010 athletes

Six athletes of Utuado have competed in Mayagüez 2010, they are Antonio "Tonito" Acevedo (baseball), Diamilette Quiles (softball), Giovanni González (table tennis), Luis Collazo (marathon) and sisters Paola and Fabiola Álvarez (both pneumatic shooting).

Festivals and events

  • Festival Nacional Del BBQ en Utuado - Originated by locals Samuel Kanig and Ramon G. Garcia, it is a one-day barbecue festival held on the fist Sunday of January. It is an annual family event where people exhibit their own creativity by building unique barbecues made from common and uncommon household items. The festival has exhibited barbecue grills made from items such as a toolbox, coffin, light post and even an automobile.
  • Bicicletada De La Amistad Juan Domingo Reyes Negrón - An annual bike day celebrated on a Friday usually around the week of Valentine's Day since 2001. Celebrated in memory of Juan Domingo Reyes Negrón, a local boy who died in a truck impact while in his bicycle in 2000, the idea was originated by the First Lady, Ivelisse Reyes, and has been sponsored by the Municipal Government of Utuado and the Municipal Office of Recreation and Sports. On February 17, 2010, a Municipal employee lost his life in an accident in the Arecibo Waste Dump, therefore the Municipal Government postponed the bike day from February 19, 2010, to March 5, 2010. On this date, the starting point was moved from the Ramón Cabañas Baseball Stadium to the Utuado campus of the University of Puerto Rico. The 2011 edition's starting point was moved to the end of the under-construction PR-10, near the Utuado campus of the University of Puerto Rico. The 2012 starting point was the Ramón Cabañas Baseball Stadium, once again. On the 2012 edition of the bike day, the First Lady, asked the next mayor elected to continue this family activity for years to come and generations to enjoy as her husband stepped down as mayor that year.
  • Barrio Angeles Fiesta - April
  • Festival Tierra Adentro - Hosted annually by the Agricultural Technology department of the University of Puerto Rico at Utuado, featuring arts and crafts by local artisans, cultural music, food and plant and animal exhibitions. This festival is held in April from a Wednesday to Sunday.
  • Guarionex Fiestas - April
  • Feria Artesanal de Angeles - An annual arts & crafts fair held in early May in barrio Angeles featuring local artisans, music and food.
  • Cross Rosary - May
  • Festival de la Longaniza - Celebrated its first year on June 26–28, 2009, it was the lifelong dream of Don Jose A. Carmona "Don Toño" to establish it to celebrate his legacy with his children (his own recipe for seasoning the sausage) and bring another special celebration to the mountain town and celebrate something as delicious as "longaniza".
  • Fiestas Patronales - Held towards the end of September to early October in honor of the town's patron saint, San Miguel Arcangel. Utuado's Fiestas Patronales honor their patron saint with processions, music and in 2005 featured amateur boxing matches, softball and domino games. It previously was held in the town's central plaza and after remodeling of the plaza, to prevent major damage, the festival moved to the Ramón Cabañas Baseball Stadium parking lot. The 2009 and 2011 editions of the Fiestas Patronales was not celebrated due to low budget from the Municipal Administration. The 2013 edition of the "patronales", under the municipal government of Ernesto Irizarry Salvá, returned to the recreation plaza in front of City Hall and the San Miguel Church.
  • Festival Cultural del Otoao - An annual cultural event held in the beginning of December celebrating Utuado's Taino heritage. It features arts & crafts, concerts, food and dance and takes place in the central plaza "'Plaza del Recreo'" in Utuado Pueblo.


With the recent completion of the Highway 10, Utuado has become one of the easiest towns in the interior mountainous region to reach from the San Juan metropolitan area, what used to be a 3-hour trip has been reduced to 1 hour and 30 minutes (to reach the central town).


There are currently 20 schools under the Puerto Rico Department of Education system, 2 private schools and one college level institution.


Most students in Utuado attend public schools, these being spread all over the town. Public education in Utuado is the best fit to the town's economic reality. Principal primary education institutions include María Libertad Gómez, Félix Seijo, Bernardo González, Monserrate Moreno, among others. Among the principal secondary level institutions are the Francisco Ramos Middle School, Luis Muñoz Rivera High School and Antonio Reyes Padilla Vocational High School.


While most students attend the above-mentioned schools there are also private schools in Utuado. There are only two private schools currently operating: Colegio Utuadeño San José and Academia Dailén, both serving pre-K to the sixth grade.

Meanwhile, the main private educational institution of Utuado was Colegio San Miguel. This Catholic school offered all lower level education grades (Pre K-12) and, during its former glory, attracted students hailing from adjacent municipalities such as Jayuya, Adjuntas and Arecibo. Founded in the early 1920s, its building is located in downtown Utuado. On May, 2010, the elementary building was forcefully closed, leaving seven teachers and its principal fired. On December 2010, Colegio San Miguel middle/high school was completely forced shut down by its San Juan administrators for supposedly "lack of economic support". A lawsuit was filed in local court against the administrators for emotional damages to the students and faculty. A federal injunction was also filed against the administrators for pursuing a chapter 7 bankruptcy. On August 2012, the administrators acceded to rent the middle/high school building to federal program Proyecto CASA.


Founded in 1979, the youngest campus of the University of Puerto Rico system specializes in agricultural studies in areas such as pest control, horticulture, livestock industry and agricultural production.

See also


  1. ^ Archivo General de Indias, Reference Code: Ultramar 5147, EXP. 13, Document accessed and viewed at Archivos Españoles en red: www.
  2. ^ "Historia". Autoridad de Energia Electrica de Puerto Rico (AEEPR). 
  3. ^ Book: Utuado: Notas Para su Historia, Dr. Pedro H. Hernandez Paralitici, San Juan, 1983, Page 43
  4. ^ a b "History of Utuado". 2011-11-05. Retrieved 2013-02-18. 
  5. ^ Maria Rosado; Pedro Albizu Campos: Las Llamas de la Aurora; pp. 352, 353; Ediciones Puerto pub.; ISBN 1-933352-62-0
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Elecciones Generales 2012: Escrutinio General". CEEPUR. 
  8. ^

Further reading

  • El Porvenir de Utuado: estudio historico, descriptivo y estadistico, by Ramón Morel Campos, published by El Vapor: Ponce in 1896.
  • Libertad y Servidumbre en el Puerto Rico del siglo XIX: (los jornaleros utuadeños en vísperas del auge del café), by Fernando Picó, published by Ediciones Huracan in 1979.
  • Los Gallos Peleados, by Fernando Picó, published by Ediciones Huracan in 1983.
  • Amargo Café: los pequeños caficultores de Utuado en la segunda mitad del siglo XIX, by Fernando Picó, published by Ediciones Huracan in 1981.
  • El Dorado Borincano: La economia de la conquista 1510-1550, Jalil Sued Badillo, published by Ediciones Puerto Rico in 2001.
  • Historia Geografica, Civil y Natural de la isla de San Juan Bautista de Puerto Rico, Fray Iñigo Abbad y Lasierra, originally published in 1788, later published in 1866 with anotations by Jose Julian Acosta y Calbo.

External links

  • Utuado and its barrios, United States Census Bureau
  • History of Utuado and Old Archival Photos
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