It’s one of Albuquerque’s most well-known street names, Juan Tabo Boulevard, but does anyone know who Juan Tabo really was?

His name is all around town. On businesses, churches, even a major road in Albuquerque is named after him—but who is Juan Tabo?

No one seems to know the man that even has a library named after him. KRQE News 13 reached out to the city archivist, the Albuquerque Museum, and Albuquerque historians who all came to the same conclusion: Juan Tabo is a mystery.

“I think that makes it really random considering how many things we have named after it in the city,” said Kaitlyn Lamie of Albuquerque. 

The mystery has become so widespread, it’s even the butt of a joke with t-shirts questioning who the legend is.

Although, the city was able to shed some light on who Tabo could have been. 

According to Marc Simmons’ book, “Albuquerque: A Narrative History,” one legend says Juan Tabo was a priest who lived nearby. However, no such name occurs in early church records. Another story says he was a sheepherder who grazed his flock in the Tijeras Canyon. 

A different book mentions that in the late 1700s, a petition designated ‘La Canada de Juan Taboso’ as west of the Sandias. While there doesn’t seem to be any conclusive answers, many people have their own theories on who he could have been.

“Somebody maybe who like was a construction worker, who made Juan Tabo?” said an Albuquerque boy. 

“I would hope some sort of founder for New Mexico,” Lambie said. “Someone that helped us get our start and our name.”

Another legend has it that Tabo is a Spanish word in the Philippines meaning a cup made from coconut shells.