I am trying to get to the bottom of this. I have been living in ABQ for close to two years now and I have "Googled" this question and found sketch answers. I see that the question was posed to the Duke City Fix but the link is not working. Can someone give me a definitive answer to who Juan Tabo was/is? Thanks.

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Here's a link that might help you out:

And this link is on the City of ABQ site for more street names.
According to "The Place Names of New Mexico" by Robert Julyan,

"The identity of the man whose name is on this canyon - and numerous features in Albuquerque - remains a mystery. The name first appears in a 1778 petition using 'Canada de Juan Taboso' as a landmark. It's been suggested that this person was a Taboso Indian, a tribe akin to the Lipan Apaches, and though the Tabosos' traditional territory was far to the SE, it's not impossible that one of their members settled here. At least one legend attributes the name to an Indian sheepherder who grazed his flocks in the canyon. Another legend is that Juan Tabo was a priest who lived here, though the name is absent from church records. But these are just conjecture, and Juan Tabo is likely to remain the stuff of legends."

In the definitive history of the area, Marc Simmons writes in "Albuquerque; a narrative history" that:

"The question of who Juan Tabo was has never been satisfactorily answered. One legend claims he was a priest who lived nearby, but no such name occurs in the early Church records. According to another story, Juan Tabo was an Indian sheepherder accustomed to grazing his flocks in the canyon that took his name. A prominent avenue in the East heights is also called Juan Tabo. It is part of the irony of history that Governor Cuervo y Valdes, the man most responsible for the founding of Albuquerque, has no thoroughfare or public building honoring his name, while the mysterious Juan Tabo receives recognition on dozens of street signs."

Sorry, that's not a great answer to your question, but it's part of this area's lore.

Roland Penttila
Roland summarizes the most popular theories, but the long and short of it is that the street is named for the canyon in the Sandias, which has been attached to that place name since at least the eighteenth century. As for who the canyon was named after, the sheepherder story seem most probable to me. The Sandias were kind of a dangerous place through much of the eighteenth century, and it would have been odd to find a priest there. They were, however, used as pasture by sheepherders from Albuquerque and other nearby villages.
He's the guy who built those "mysterious" towers and smokestacks west of the city (lol)
THANK YOU for asking this question. I have always wondered it.

And sheesh, I have lived OFF of Juan Tabo for a good chunk of my life. lol.
As a native, I always heard that "Juan Tabo" was based on an old stage coach stop-over off old Rt. 66.

The tale goes that a guy named John, a world traveller, built a hotel for travellers and included delightful gardens for his guests to enjoy. He even built a fish pond to delight the visitors. He did very well and his clients were happy. His reputation grew and he made more money than he would ever need.

Then tragedy struck. A terrible thunder storm struck in August. The torrential rains washed away John's hotel, the road off old 66 and the water deluge swept all away. Guests were rescued. Livestock was saved and the sun came out to dry the earth again.

As the sun dried the land, John walked about his property, surveying the damage. He noticed his ponds were empty, yet, he saw a fish. A lone fish, thrashing in the mud for it's life. John was kind enough to sooth the fish with a gentle pat about the gills.

The fish recognized the gesture and began to follow the source of such affection. The fish flopped along, begging for more. John noticed but continued with his repairs.

It wasn't long until the fish was a constant companion, flopping along after John, enjoying each day with a scaly glee.

John rebuilt the hotel, the roads were improved and eventually, the ponds were rebuilt. Life was back to normal.

Then, the rains came, again. August. Torrential rains, flooding the land, wiping out everything in their path.

John went wading through the rushing waters. Searching, desperately hunting, looking for his faithful, flopping loyal companion, the flopping fish who had adapted to living without water. The one lovingly name Tabo, after a monastery in India, where life is always cherised.

John found Tabo. His body was caught between two rocks and a hard place. The fish, Tabo, had drowned.


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