In Spanish, the word "Cuba" means a tank or basin or keg. It probably refers to the basin-shaped contour of the valley Cuba sits in.

Cuba was originally name Laguna. The earliest settlers were attracted to a profusion of small lakes and swamps that once covered what is now downtown Cuba. The Rio Puerco River and other little streams came down out of the Nacimiento Mountains to the east and fed into the lakes and ponds. The land was as close to lush as you can get in this dry part of New Mexico.

The lakes eventually were drained by early Spanish settlers who arrived here in about 1766. The settlers were given a tract of land from the King of Spain known as the San Joaquin del Nacimiento Grant. Many little communities sprang up all along the Rio Puerco. Most of them are no longer in existence. Present day Cuba, in this location, dates from about 1879.

The mountains you see to the east of Cuba are called the Nacimientos and refers, probably, to the mountains as the birth place of all the water in the area.

Cuba has a rich, multi-cultural history! It was the home of Anasazi and Gallina Indian cultures. There is today a large Navajo population living to the west, Apaches to the north, and Zia and Jemez Pueblo Indians to the south.

The history of Cuba is closely tied to the land. Sheep, goats and cattle are raised here. Gold, silver, copper, coal and fertilizer have been mined in the area. Wheat, hay, fruits and pinon are harvested.

Perhaps Cuba's most notorious character was Hesavel Sanbrano, who arrived in Cuba, so he told everybody, after riding with Pancho Villa , but in truth might have been chased by lawmen from other parts of the territory. Somehow, he became the local Sheriff. He alledgedly killed an entire family in pursuit of one bad man. Locals called him "El Brujo," the witch, because, folks said, he could be in two places at once.

Cuba was, and is today, a source of goods, services, school and health care for the surrounding communities.

Cuba, New Mexico & Surrounding Area