Taste the Coffee of this City Between the Mountains
Utuado was established on 12 October 1739. It was founded by Sebastian de Morfi and the name of the city was derived from Chief Otoao, whose name meant “Between Mountains”. The name is rather fitting since Utuado is situated in the Central Mountain Range of Puerto Rico near Ponce, Ciales, Arecibo and Lares. Between the late 1500’s and 1700’s not much of this city’s history was recorded, but it has become a destination in Puerto Rico that is filled with significant sights and many noteworthy attractions.
During the 1530’s the entire region of Utuado was overrun by people searching for gold. Permission was requested to establish a town but it was denied. Close to the beginning of the 1600’s, the gold rush died down. It has been speculated that this area, with its dense forests and numerous caves, was used as a place of hiding and safety by Indians and escaped slaves. By the year 1771, Utuado had become an agricultural community with cattle, mules and horses that focused on the production of tobacco. There were also small amounts of coffee being produced, but this was only enough for the farmer’s own personal use. The importance and economic value of coffee was only realized in the 1800’s and Utuado became the largest coffee producer in Puerto Rico. They had found a new form of gold, “Black Gold”.
With the production of coffee, many changes came to this once forgotten city. It was the first Puerto Rican city that had electricity and plans for a train system had begun. But after the United States took over Puerto Rico, locals were forced to start producing sugar and by the time Hurricane San Ciriaco hit in 1899, the coffee lands were completely destroyed. Today, this historical destination in Puerto Rico has to settle for being the third largest Puerto Rican coffee producer and have expanded their agricultural sector with bees, bananas, pigs and oranges. Textiles, stone and paper are also manufactured here.
Amongst the many attractions in Utuado, the most significant is the Caguana Indian Ceremonial Park. It is known to the most vital example of Taino engineering with bateyes (courts), cobble stone walkways and decorative petroglyphs on monoliths. These date back some 800 years. Other attractions include the Lago Dos Bocas, Hacienda Roses, Cascada El Saltillo, Iglesia San Miguel Arcangel, Blanco Bridge, the old Tobacco Coop Building, Taller Hacienda Taina and the Monumento a los Soldados Utuadenos. Visitors should also take the opportunity to go horse back riding at Rancho de Caballos or walk through the spectacular beauty of the Rio Abajo Forest Reserve. This reserve is home to more than 175 wildlife species, 223 plant species and covers an area of 5 780 acres. Guests will have seventy different trails to choose from to explore this extraordinary reserve.
From gold to coffee, from nature to history and from a few famous names to archeological sites, Utuado has it all. This breathtaking destination in Puerto Rico is one of adventure, exploration and discovery.