Brief of Noteworthy Events and Landmarks

Noteworthy Events

30 April 1494 -
Columbus, on his second voyage of exploration, sailed into Guantanamo Bay and remained overnight. He called the bat Puerto Grande.

18 July 1741 - Vice Admiral Vernon, with 3,000 British troops under General Wentworth, arrived at Guantanamo Bay to begin an unsuccessful campaign against Santiago.

10 June 1898 - A battalion of Marines landed at Fisherman’s Point and made camp on McCalla Hill, the first U. S. troops ashore in Cuba in the Spanish-American War.

23 February 1903 - President Thoedore Roosevelt signed original lease agreement with Cuba for Gunatanamo Bay.

3 March 1903 - Congress appropriated $100,000 for “necessary expenditures incident to the occupation and utilization of the naval station at Guantanamo, Cuba...”

10 December 1903 - The Naval Reservation was turned over by Cuba to the United States.

27 April 1904 - An appropriation of $385,500 was made for an emergency repair installation at Guantanamo Bay, including a dry dock to be built on South Toro Cay.

1906 (exact date unknown) - Work on dry doock on South Toro Cay was discontinued.

1908 (Spring) - USS Monongahela, station ship, burned.

10 March 1913 - LT John H. Towers (later ADM and Chief of Bu Aer) flew from Guantanamo Bay to Santiago in a Curtiss flying boat in 46 minutes.

10 December 1913 - The Naval Station was officially opened at its present location, the main activities having been moved from South Toro Cay.

1924 (Winter) - First concentration of Atlantic and Pacific Fleets in Caribbean.

7 August 1928 - Naval Station damaged by hurricane, center passing 50 miles to the south.

1938 (late in year) - Hepburn Board visited Station and made recommendations for expansion.

20 February 1939 - President Franklin D. Roosevelt visited Guantanamo Bay in the USS Houston.

1 July 1939 - Station started receiving water from pumping station at Yateras River via new water line.

4 December 1940 - President Roosevelt visited Guantanamo Bay in USS Tuscaloosa.

12 July 1940 - Contract signed with Frederick Snare Corporation to begin a vast construction program for build-up of the Station.

1 April 1941 - Naval Operating Base, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, established.

25 February 1948 - President Harry S Truman visited Base.

18 June 1952 - Title of Naval Operating Base changed to Naval Base.

In addition to two presidents, many other distinguished personages have visited the Naval Base. At one time General John. J. Pershing was a visitor on board the USS Utah. Charles A. Lindbergh was a visitor auring his good-will flight around the Americas in the “Spirit of St. Louis”. Before and during World War II years, visitors included members of Congressm Cabinet officers, Ambassadors, Harry Hopkins, Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, and others.

In recent years important personages visiting the base have included: U. S. Ambassador Robert Butler (from Havana), 21-22 December 1950; Admiral and Mrs. Forrest P. Sherman, 31 December 1950 - 1 January 1951; Vice Admiral R. V. Symonds-Tayler, RN, 8-15 Janaury 1951; Carlos Hevia, former President of Cuba and Cuban Minister without porfolio (graduate of U. S. Naval Academy, class of 1920) 19 October 1951; U. S. Ambassador and Mrs. Howard Travers (from Haiti), 4 December 1951 and on two occasions subsequently; Peruvian Minister of Marine Roque A. Saldias, 20-22 May 1952; Cuban Minister of National Defense Nicolas Perez Hernandez, 17 June 1952; U. S. Ambassador and Mrs. Willard L. Beaulac (from Havana) 19-20 June 1952; the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral W. M. Fechteler, 18 December 1952.


Hospital Cay - So named when a British man-of-war used it for isolation and treatment of yellow fever victims in 1854 (although legend has name dating back to Admiral Vernon in 1741).

Deer Point - Named for deer which were once numerous on the Base, and still exisit in small numbers.

Evans Point - Named for Rear Admiral Robley D. Evans, who started the fleet on its cruise around the world in 1908.

Radio Point - Marked by soaring towers on radio transmitters.

Paola Point - Named about 1916 for Paola Copeland, daughter of LT David Copeland, CEC, who was stationed here.

Stephen Crane Hill - Named for author of “Red Badge of Courage”, and other stories, who covered the 1898 fighting at Guantanamo Bay as a newspaper correspondent.

McCalla Hill - Named for Rear Admiral B. H. McCalla, who as Captain of the USS Marblehead commanded U. S. forces in the capture of Guantanamo Bay in 1898. Crest of hill is marked by an old Spanish cannon, with a bronze tablet commemorative of Marine and Naval personnel killed in the fighting: Marines Dumphy, Good, Smith, McColgan, Taurman, and Acting Assistant Surgeon Gibbs, USN.

“Droopy” Gun - Gun from USS Monongahela, warped by fire which burned vessel in 1908, located on tip of Deer Point.

CPO Club - Built in 1916 as Enlisted Men’s Recreation Building, huge frame structure overlooks Fleet Landing and much of the Base.

Old Officer’s Club - Built about 1912 at end of Evans Point, now Quarters 610.

Quarters “X” - Built on Evans Point as quarters for Rifle Range Officer in 1906, now a 4-unit apartment house.

North Toro Cemetery - Established 1906, last bodies removed 1944, and cemetary abandoned.

Drydock on South Toro Cay - Started in 1904, discontinued in 1906, contours still visible.

Million-gallon Reservoir - Uncompleted concrete reservoir, most of it below the surface of the ground, at the top of Commandant’s Hill, North Toro Cay.

All-America Cable Station - Only private enterprise on the Naval Base, buildings stand on cliffs above Fisherman’s Point.

Fort McCalla - South of Cable Station, built by Army in 1906.

Fort Conde - On Conde Bluff, west of Hicacal Beach, built by Army in 1907.

Marine Monument - Marks spot, near Naval Air Station, pistol range, where two Marines, Privates Dumphy and McColgan, were killed on 11 June 1898 by Spanish forces.

Kittery Beach - Near northeast boundry of Base, named for the supply ship which for many years brought provisions to the Station.

Windmill Beach - Recently developed as principal recreation for Base residents. Derivation of name is unknown since no record has been found of any windmill ever having been located in that particular locality.

Phillips Park - Race track, where horses once trotted, now a recreation area with ball field, stands, picnic shelters, tables, and benches. Named for RADM W. K. Phillips, a former Base Commander.

Paul Jones Hill - Highest hill on the Base, 494 feet, once had a “Mountain House” on the top for recreation use of officers and families.

Light House - Located near tip of Windward Point, marks starting point of metes and bounds description of area comprising the Base. Light no longer in use.


Most of the roads on the Base have functional or numerical names which require no explanation (e.g., Deer Point Road, Kittery Beach Road, First Street). Those named for persons usually require some explanation, amd their derivations will be indicated below.

Sherman Avenue - The only avenue on the Base, named for Admiral Forrest P. Sherman, U. S. Navy, Chief of Naval Operations, 1949-51.

Several roads in the Industrial area named for Cuban national or local heroes:

Céspedes - First Revolutionary President of short-lived Republic in 1868.

Martí - Spiritual leader of the Cuabn independence movement.

Gómez - Commander-in-Chief of Cuban Armed Forces in the War of Liberation.

Maceo (Antonio) - Noted field general.

García - Field General (“Message to Garcia”).

Pérez - Field general.

Enrique Thomas - Colonel who assisted Marine sin driving Spanish from area.

Emilio Giró - Colonel and first Mayor of Guantanamo City under the Republic.

The following roads in the Naval Air Station are named for noted Admirals who were Naval Aviators: Mitscher, McCain and Moffett.

The following Naval Air Station Roads are named for men who lost their lives in the fighting here in June 1898: Good, Taurman, Smith, Dumphy, McColgan, and Gibbs. Also roads are named for McCalla and Huntington, who were Navy and Marine commanders, respectively, in the U. S. capture of Guantanamo Bay.

Moss Road and Thorne Road are named for former Commanding Officers of the Naval Air Station.

Rowan Road - Named for LT Rowan, USA, immortalized by Elbert Hubbard in his “Message to Garcia”.

Potter Road - Named for David Potter, former Paymaster General.

Welles Road - Named for Gideon Welles, third Paymaster General and later Secretary of the Navy.

Soule, Johnson, Rogers, Ackerman and Tozer Roads are named for former Commandants of the Naval Station.

Marshll Road, Peddicord Road and Rickman Circle are named for victims of fire at Wharf Tare on 9 June 1951.

Diamond Road - Named for a famous Marine Sergent Major.

The following roads in the Naval Hospital area are named for Navy Medical Officers: Gendreau, Melhorn, Gearing, Crossland, and Stuart.

Ladislao Guerra Road - Named for the late Mayor of Guantanamo, Dr. Ladislao L. Guerra Sanchez, a warm friend of the Base, who died 7 December 1952.

1953-1964 Period

Cooper Field - Baseball field at the Fleet Recreation Center named for former Naval Base Commandet Rear Admiral W. G. Cooper September 1955 to October 1956. Dedication date unknown.

W. T. Sampson School - Dedicated on October 25, 1956. Named after Admiral W. T. Sampson, USN, Spanish-American War naval hero who headed the U. S. Fleet which operated in the water surrounding Cuba.

Morin Center - Dedicated September 27, 1961. Named after William H. Morin, Boatswains Mate Second Class, U. S. Navy, a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient. Received the Medal of Honor while serving aboard the USS Marblehead on July 27, 1898, disabled 27 contact mines in Guantanamo Bay. Built as a community center with resturant facilities.

Marblehead Hall - Dedicated in September 1962. Named after the USS Marblehead which participated in the various battles at Guantanamo Bay during the Spanish-American War 1898. Houses 16 bowling lanes, snack bar, gymnasium, lockers. Located near Cooper Field.

Denich Hill - Dedicated on June 26, 1963. Named for George J. Denich, Jr., EON3, USNR who was killed while driving a bulldozer in the construction of base fortifications on April 10, 1963. A monument is located at the foot of the hill located in the southeastern section of the base. Dedication ceremonies were attended by the Denich family.

Bulkeley Hill - Land area overlooking the Northeast Gate. Named after Rear Admiral John D. Bulkeley, Commander, Naval Base, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, who, during the water crisis in February 1964, stood watch on this hill in battle greens, wearing his “Big Iron”, a .357 Colt magnum pistol, 12 to 18 hours a day, for several weeks. Marines who served with the Admiral named the hill in his honor.

Go to Appendix B