Jones arrived from the United States to settle near Fort Chacabuco and
from the south of Chile came the Germans Jose Tauschek, Jorge Huber and
Carlos Whiederholdt. Enrique Neil, Jorge and Ralph Newbery,
the Spaniards Fermin Salaberry and Manuel Dominguez are just some of the
names we could mention, others left no record for history,
but between them all they began to give life to a small community that in time was to turn into what we see today.
Jarred Jones , settled near Fort Chacabuco in 1889, after driving cattle
to Chile for a time, he decided to exploit livestock farming on land which
used to belong to Modesto Inacayal (Until 1884 when the chief was captured
and his people evicted). Together with Enrique Neil, a fellow
countryman, he opened a general store at the source of the Limay.
The expert F.Moreno, who enjoyed the american's hospitality and was grateful
for Jones'colaboration in his campaigns, interceded in order that the government
would grant him 10.000 Hectares. that he had applied to buy. In 1908,in
possession of the title deeds, Jones put up the first line of fencing.
George Newbury and his wife Fanny Tayler established themselves to the
east of lake Traful around 1894. They founded La Primavera ranch
where they raised livestock and exploited timber.
by the activity of the business, as early as 1896 Francisco P. Moreno wrote
-"Messrs. Wiederholdt's business caters for all the needs of a vast
region and exports products of the same to Puerto Montt, for which they
have vessels at their disposal (...). The commerce of wool,
leather, pork, potatoes. cheese, butter and other less important products
can be dispatched by boat once a fortnight to Puerto Blest, in the extreme
west of the lake. These products are transported in three days to
Puerto Montt, whereas it takes a month or more to take them to Viedma".
steamer 'Condor' was the first vessel that sailed on the lake Nahuel Huapi.
C. Wiederholdt ordered its construction in Puerto Montt in 1898, her parts
were transported by wagon through the Perez Rosales pass and once in Argentina,
Muhlenpfort, considered to be the best boat builder in the region, assembled
it. Till 1920, the Condor, always under the command of
Daniel Marquez, still provided a great service to the lake-side settlers,
distributing cargo and assisting them when isolated by heavy snow falls.
of Nahuel Huapi:
The importance of the commercial activity of that business led to the grouping together of new neighbours, in a place that not long ago was only occupied by the Lefipan family.
that time the most important settlement on the lake was located at the
source of the Limay river. Apart from the general store owned
by Jones and Enrique Neil, there was the first police station, post office,
the first justice of the peace and registry office. The floods in
Viedma and Carmen de Patagones in 1899 led to the arrival of many new settlers
who were to swell the census figures of that year: The 'Department
of Nahuel Huapi' then amounted to 850 inhabitants.
commercial activity with Chile was slowly attracting a considerable number
of settlers, for the most part of humble origin: day labourers, shearers
and labourers looking for seasonal work on the neighbouring ranches.
Wiederholdt, sold the Argentine branch of his business and settled in Puerto
Montt in 1900. The new owners, Messrs. Hube and Achelis, also
members of the German colony in southern Chile, expanded the activity with
three businesses, a salting establishment, a sawmill and they also set
up a weekly connection with Puerto Montt. They
controlled the totality of the exports and imports, till 1904 when they sold the business on being accused of smuggling and were investigated by the Argentine government.
In 1903 the engineer Apolinario Lucero, was entrusted to carry out the land surveys and the first population break-down that existed in the colony for the handing over of land. His report, the racist and
discriminative contents of which, didn't attract attention at that time, was approved by decree on the 4th., of January 1904.
"The actual population on
this land - it said - is quite numerous; made up of natives from Chile,
'Chilotes' or Chileans from the Archipelago of Chiloe and Germans, most
of whom have also come from Chile. Of these settlers the only
ones that are really in a condition to be colonists are the Germans, as
the indians as well as the'Chilotes', limit themselves to planting wheat
and potatoes needed for their own consumption, later occupying themselves
as day labourers. They are immoral and harmful people, unable to take on
full time work, and as soon as they save any funds they devote themselves
to drink and all kinds of excesses until they have spent the last centavo;
only then returning to work". He recommended therefore,"that
the land would be useless in the hands of colonists of this sort, and would
be a serious prejudice to the real colonists, giving them such neighbours.
On the other hand, other settlers such as the three Boock brothers, the
Goyes, the Mermouds, Muhlenpfordt, Goedeke, Runge and especially Hube and
Achelis have done really important work at their own expense, building
good houses of timber, yards, fencing, bridges, roads, a watermill and
above all they have cleared the land and woods of undergrowth which is
the best work for a farmer in that region to undertake. The engineer
added: "It would be very convenient to reserve a portion of land in
order to divide it into small plots and distribute them amongst the indians
and 'chilotes' who at the moment have their homes scattered amongst the
reserved plots; these people, as I have mentioned before, have sufficient
enough with a plot of land where they can plant the potatoes or the wheat
they need for their own consumption, as they don't grow more than that,
and neither do they raise livestock."
(Extracts from the report of the Land Surveyor Apolinario J. Lucero. Mensura and handing over of plots in the Nahuel Huapi Colony, 30th of September 1903, made by the Engineer Emilio Frey).
Possibly the recommendations
made by the Engineer Lucero had not been officially taken into consideration,
but the truth is that the paper work envolved in the handing over of land
in the Nahuel Huapi Colony, that had to be undertaken in Buenos Aires,
was so complicated and costly that only those who were able to pay obtained
the property deeds, leaving many of the old settlers, as illegal occupiers
of their own land. "This Colony has to be agricultural grazing land,
taking into account the configuration of the ground, the type of land,
a colonist cannot
live from only one of these industries, especially on the reserved plots". (...) "All articles for basic needs that are not produced in the area are fabulously priced. Life in the Colony must be very hard for the colonist who is not accustomed to these regions,as apart from the harsh climate he has to combat a particularly mountainous terrain
covered by dense woodland and where it is thicker, the quality of the soil is better. So therefore a colonist who has cleared a plot of trees and undergrowth in order to cultivate it, has earned it." (Report from the Engineer Apolinario J. Lucero on the mensura and handing over of plots in the Nahuel Huapi Colony, 30th of September 1903).
In 1917 the Chile-Argentina Company in Bariloche was aquired by the associates Primo Capraro and Santiago Roth, who was based in Peulla. By that time Capraro had set up a saw-mill in Bariloche and was building almost all of the houses in the town, that in 1915 already had 1500 inhabitants. Roth, for his part, had hotels, cars and
launches in Chile which helped to vigorize the commercial interchange between the two countries, until 1920 when a customs office was installed in the region. The man who in a few years became the most important person in town, had arrived from Italy in 1902. Through his friend Baratta, a compatriot established on the lake, he heard of the allotment of fiscal land on the shores of the Nahuel Huapi and on arriving in Buenos Aires he completed all the naturalization formalities necessary in order to obtain the land. Capraro and his friend Baratta applied for the only two plots still available in the Nahuel Huapi Colony, both situated in Correntoso: There, in 1932, thanks to his efforts together with other proprietors in the area, such as Bustillo, Lynch, Uribelarrea and Ortiz Basualdo, Villa La Angostura was founded, capital of the then Los Lagos (The Lakes) department of the territory of Neuquen.
Taking as an example the development of the north american west, where the so-called "deserts" were transformed into productive regions, Ramos Mexia conceived the Foment plan of the National Territories that he
presented before congress in 1906. "The project - in his own words -is inspired by two fundamental concepts. The first is that the public land should be destined to foment with its product, the regions in which it finds itself (...). The second,is that the essence of a country's development is the systematic multiplication of the lines of communication, indespensable to commerce, by land, the waterways and sea.
first step, indispensable for the development of the Patagonia, wasto carry
out topographical and geological studies. This was the responsibility
of a commission contracted in 1910, by the ministerRamos Mexia. The engineer
Bailey Willis, of the United StatesGeological Investigations Department,
who had 30 yearsexperience, directed the commission. The Argentine
engineer EmilioFrey, who had previously worked with the expert Moreno on
the limitscommission, assumed the post of assistant director of what was
namedthe Ministry of Public Works Commission for Hydrological studies.
The Commission made detailed studies and drew up projects whichwere considered
of great value by the minister Ramos Mexia. Nevertheless he had to face
strong opposition, which manifestated itselfin the form of burocratic obstacles
as well as violent political attacksthat finally put and end to his activities,
when the ministry was leftin the hands of Manuel Moyano in 1915.
problems obstructed construction work owing to difficulties in the terrain.
The engineers Frey, Nelson, Lewis and Pemberton, members of the commission,
drew up a topographical map with contour lines of an exactitude that permitted
the discovery and avoidance of the most difficult sections .
The minister, satisified with the results, entrusted B. Willis with the
study of a railway line that from San Antonio, passing through Nahuel Huapi,
would extend accross the mountain range to the pacific, linking chilean
and argentine economies in order to re-establish a historical commercial
interchange which had been interrupted in the 19th. century.
The report on the " Mountain Section of the Transcontinental Railway from San Antonio in Argentina to Valdivia in Chile" was presented to the minister and published in 1912, but the english capital was the projects' principal economic adversary. At that time the british owned railway company, not only was not interested in laying lines outside the production zone of meat and grain,but was also completely against national railways constructing to compete with its future interests in the Patagonia.
In 1912 Ramos Mexia entrusted to B.Willis the investigation into the regional capacity to maintain industries of national interest, taking into account that it was indespensable to replace imported coal - on which Argentina then depended - with other energy resources. The commision established itself in Bariloche from where it studied the geo-economic characteristics of the region and the possibilities of generating hydro-electric energy.
Ramos Mexia's main idea was the creation of an industrial city in the Patagonia, a centre that would assure regional development: It would be the capital city and seat of the provincial government. Willis would locate the sight and was to draw up the plans. "The reasons that made the minister - according to Willis himself - order the selection of a site for a manufacturing city, were those of a perspicacious statesman. He foresaw that the group of raw materials, the abundance of hydroelectric power and the big market that the Argentine provinces offered, sooner or later must give place to the implantation of manufacturers industries in the cordillera. And he wisely proposed that the development process for the future
would be guided by plans based on appropriate investigations".
Nevertheless in 1912, the minister Ramos Mexia was interpellated by the camera: he was accused of extravagance and of wasting public money. But as the president Saenz Pena supported his minister, he and the commission continued with its work. B. Willis presented a report, according to which, the region was apt for maintaining a population of three million inhabitants thanks to its resources. It comprehended appropriated land for agriculture, woodland, grazing land and an
inexhaustable source of hydroelectric energy for industrialization.
Capital of Nahuel Huapi
The province of which the city would be the capital, embraced all the cordillera from Junin de los Andes to Colonia 16 de Octubre,in Chubut. Willisproposed that by raising the waters of the Limay river to the level of the lake Nahuel Huapi, by means of a dam of moderate height, situated in "La Secunda Angostura", they could build the city on the edge of the new
reservoir. The creation of the lake Limay - wrote Willis - will produce a fall in the river that according to the average flow in the last 10 years will give a theoretical force of 80.000horse power, from which it could carry to the city, at 12 km. from the generating plant, probably 50.000 constantly available horse power." Respecting the zone destined as National Park, the superior part of the lake Nahuel Huapi and the west of Bariloche were not considered for the choice. The plan of the industrial city established four different sections:
1. The manufacturing section on the river Limay, near the railways and well supplied with water.
2 Section for workers homes and shops.
3 Residential section in the North West.
4. Section for railway arsenals and military stock on the South West of the railway.
"One can foresee -wrote Willis -that at a not very far off date, the hydroelectric power from the Limay will be used for the production of textiles and fabrics using the fine fleece of the 'Merino' sheep of Rio Negro and Neuquen. (...), leather articles with materials from the cold storage plants, furniture and other wood products (...).".
But in 1912 Argentine imports rose to 76 million pounds sterling, 20 million of which were invested in the importation of textiles,and wood, paper and leather goods. And the industrialization plans met with its principal antagonist in the interests connected with the import-export business through the port of Buenos Aires. The British capital was interested in maintaining the monopoly of the railways; just as the farmers of the pampa and patagonia, exporters of meat, grain and wool, and the importers of textiles and leather, violently opposed the project.
The opposition in congress had arrived at its most acute fase and Ramos Mexia felt obliged to offer his resignation in 1913, although his sucessor, Dr. Carlos Meyer Pelligrini, still supported the work of the commission during the brief period that he was in office, the open hostility of the next minister, Dr. Manuel Moyano - who had previously occupied the post of Director of British Railways,- put an end to the activity of the engineers in 1915 and the Industrial city of Nahuel Huapi died on the shelves.
Bailey Willis presented all of his studies and projects in the work entitled "History of the Ministry of Public Works Commission for Hydrological Studies." The originals of which he donated to the Museum of the Patagonia in 1941. The second volume of the same, donated to the directorate of the National Parks in 1937, remains unpublished.
Mexia, who had fought to plan railway lines to populate and industrialize
the south, wrote in his memoires:" The railways of the Patagonia
have been praised as tourist routes, and I, like a bad joke, have
been repeatedly congratulated for this great idea. (?!)".
of all reclaimed the railway for Bariloche:
-"We cannot go on depending, Mr. president, on somewhere 200 leagues away, where we have to go for any matter of importance, with two months of time lost and all the expense envolved, as this is enourmously detrimental to us. The completion of the Patagonian railway from San Antonio to Bariloche and its branch lines to the north and south, to Junin and Fofocahuel respectively, is of utmost importance for the creation of The Lakes territory, as well as for the development of this region."
In 1916, as the minister Ramos Mexia upheld years earlier, the dream of the railway was intimately linked to the development of the region: "With the extension of the railway to lake Nahuel Huapi and with the connexion of the trunk line to the rest of the country's network, we will see a new industry emerge for these regions,..tourism. With an inflow of travellers, new businesses will be formed. The building of the industrial city will no longer be a dream, the electric power lines will take off the veil that still protects the guts of the mysterious Nahuel Huapi basin, new routes will be opened up for transport and passenger vehicles, complementing the railways. Fleets of boats for recreation will appear on the countless Andean lakes, there will be hotels with accomodation for all tastes and pockets".
But the memorial did not just mention merely regional interests, the whole country would benefit from an industry that would limit economic dependence on Europe and the United States.
"We are going to see industrial nucleus forming in the valleys of the Andes, where the force of the water will provide the cheapest fuel, to transform raw materials such as wool, leather and wood, in consumer goods for Argentina. One can't go on depending on abroad for fabrics, paper, wood, leather and their by-products which cost 200 million pesos a year, when most of the raw materials exist in the country. We could send the delicous fish of our streams and lakes to the metropolis and swamp the markets with the tasty fruit of the Cordillera, ousting similar products from Europe and California. The same applies to milk products,with butter and cheese." But,-the letter continues-"One can not colonize without roads that unite the colonies with the population centres and with the the nearest railway stations(...) the building of these roads cannot be delayed as they are of major importance for colonization." Winters in the Nahuel Huapi Colony were harsh and the settlers often were unable to communicate with Bariloche for the lack of a good road: "We need a road from Bariloche to Epuyen (...) we need the link road, already decreed, for the north of lake Nahuel Huapi and Puyehue. We need a direct road from Nahuel Huapi to San Martin and Junin de los Andes. Bridges are also necessary over the rivers Limay, Nirihuau, Nireco, Pichileufu, Chubut, and Rio Chico (...)
For the colonization, they also asked for the use of fiscal land in the mountain range apt for grazing and furthermore: "We ask, Mr. President,-read the memorial-for the expropriation of the big ranches around the lake, or at least make the owners parcel the land in Agricultural and forestry plots. There are some 30 square leagues in the hands of a few landowners who are not very interested in the future of the region, living in Buenos Aires or abroad as they do. These lands correctly parceled (they are the best of the lake) will help to support some 200 families who could devote themselves to agriculture and 100 to raising livestock.
also applying for a branch of the National Bank, a building for a state
school, a building for tribunals, a Police Station and Telegraph Office
amongst other things, the memorial to Yrigoyen ended as follows:" We have
enumerated, in general, the needs of these regions, not sufficiently known
and understood by their governors, isolated and far away as we are from
the capitals. That is why the people of Bariloche invite
Mr. President to tour the Patagonia and especially this region, to see
in person how reasonable our patriotic aspirations are (...). Give
us then an active Governor, not one in an armchair, who is capable of carrying
out with zeal and energy the just aspirations of the settlers of this territory.
San Carlos de Bariloche. December 1916. Signatures follow."
The controversial character attempted to write his memoires in a language that he never managed to master. He tells of how one night he dreamed of the future of Bariloche, he saw "Grandoise multi-level buildings, a port "full of boats of good tonnage loading and unloading. They were electric traction boats, with accumalaters for coastal, cargo and passenger vessels, that from the ice and snow of the Tronador, Mascardi, and Frias and from lake Correntoso transported the products from agricultural and timber industries, tanners, wool washers, 'tricot' and stocking factories, cellulose concentrated in Bariloche to send to the consumer centres and for export."
But the reality was different: "The sad reality:the isolation of Nahuel Huapi, with its post every fifteen days, with luck, a journey by mule to Neuquen or by wagon train to Roca(...)." The reality was that the capital of Rio Negro, inhabited three hundred years ago by the Spanish noblemen, still had not advanced in any way and was only connected to the rest of the country by the Atlantic ocean, from where the Spanish had come from."My dream differed too much with reality, nevertheless I cherished my vision" - concluded the businessman, (From the memoires of Capraro transcripted by the Engineer Frey).
aspired to convert Buenos Aires in a "branch of Bariloche" thanks to the
exploitation of hydro-electric power. He
was greatly criticized and although in the town there were diverse versions
about his life, one thing is certain,...he was the last exponent of a plan
for development that didn't prosper. On the 4th. of October
1932, don Primo Capraro put an end to his life. It was a day
of mourning in a town where almost everyone worked for him. The entire
Capraro fleet formed in sight of the old Nireco cementary, sounding their sirens during the burial service.
The 20's Decade
Bariloche had already grown and inhabitants amounted to 1250. The Mitre was its main street, still without asphalt, and the others could only just be made out. A few cars circulated. The Pablo Mange Press printed the first local newspaper, The Nahuel Huapi. Three Hotels competed for the passengers that arrived after a long and tiring journey. A portable projector attracted neighbours to some house or bar for a film show, until Alberto Parsons opened the town's first cinema in Mitre and Frey, when the machines still worked by boiler. In 1921, the first plane landed in the El Condor ranch carrying Jorge Newbury on board. The Otto hill, the Peninsula San Pedro and the Swiss Colony were agricultural zones.
The decree entrusted in its article 5, the vigilance and provisional directorship of the Southern National Parks to engineer Emilio Frey, who was to present the project of the necessary bylaws for its care and vigilance to the Ministry of Agriculture. Although the real activity of the National Parks was delayed for more than a decade, from 1922 all economic activity that contradicted what was established in the decree was paralysed and they began to delineate the principal points of a project that was to be made effective in 1934. Engineer Frey, who was then employed by 'Land and Colonies', and who continued to fight for the development of the region in his new post as director of the park, was responsible for the project.
park was not only to promote the conservation of the natural resources,
but also to attract tourism and develope an adequate infra- -structure
to that end. Frey's project included the creation of a real
touristic and recreative centre accessible, as regards costs, to the largest
possible number of visitors. Apart from the construction and renovation
of small Hotels and pensions, a large hotel was planned for the Llao Llao
Peninsula: "It is the most appropriate site for a hotel,
surrounded by virgen woodland, with a
good port on the lake Nahuel Huapi," Frey wrote in 1923. The Engineer proposed the construction of a road for cars from Bariloche to Port Llao Llao," the details of which - he said - were given by me in 1915 to the General Directorship of the Territory, its construction being necessary not only for tourism, but also for the commercialization of the products of the colony it runs through."
iniciative that for years had tried to create the park was officially recognized,
also by decree in 1924, on naming the commission formed by : Manuel Montes
de Oca, Aaron Anchorena, Carlos Tornquist, Horacio Anasagasti, Luis Ortiz
Basualdo, Honorio Pueyrredon, Fernando Guerrico, John O'connor, Jorge Mitre,
Leopoldo Melo, Enrique Saint, Conrado Molina, Ernesto Jewel and Fermin
of the National Parks
The nineteen thirty's were marked by the world crisis that exploded at the beginning of the decade. In our country the first military coup in our history, when general Uriburu unseated the constitutional government of Yrigoyen, started what was known as "The infamous decade". In Bariloche they lived difficult times, lack of work forced the municipality, together with the Land and Colonies office, to install a 'Soup Kitchen' in 1932 on the plot of land situated on the corner of Moreno and Quaglia streets. Meat was obtained from the Bagual farm on the Victoria island, which was well stocked at that time.
But the construction and arrival of the railway, brought building and commercial activity to the zone, putting and end to those bad years.
this framework, during General Justo's presidency in 1934, the National
Parks Commision was formed presided by Dr. Angel Gallardo. On October 9th
of that year the congress sanctioned the law 12.103 which was the origen
of the first Directorship of the National Parks. The
history, that began on the 6th of November of 1903 when Francisco P. Moreno
donated 3 leagues, of the 25 that he had been authorized, for the creation
of a National Park " For the benefit of present and future generations",
only now was really about to begin.
Days before the sanctioning of the law, the "La Nacion" of Buenos Aires published in its editorial of 26th of October, under the title "The National Parks": "Three principles are incorporated in the National Parks law that must now be considered by the senate. It means making a nationalistic effort in the frontier regions, where there are situated the two great reserves that exist at the moment: Nahuel Huapi and Iguazu, in the first of which 80% of the population are foreign. This action has been reclaimed for years in order that the country may consolidate its territorial unity by spreading the unity of its environment, and nowhere is it more necessary than on the distant frontiers which, in general, lack the great historical effort that the provinces can count on."
that as Bustillo said at the time, was "divided into two different countries
by the Rio Negro: one to the north of that estuary, that received
all the favours and attention of the public powers and the other
to the south, the Patagonia, at a standstill and in a state of complete
neglect",...attempted to intergrate. The National Parks,
emerged as a territorial and populational affirmation combining the
preservation of nature with the consolidation of sovreignty.
Since the Nahuel Huapi Park project, it had already been assigned, out of the total area of 750.000 Hectares: 324.467 Ha. for intangible zones and a 22% of the area (161.918 Ha.) to make use of the resources, applying conservationist judgement. The municipal land of San Carlos de Bariloche (28.000 Ha.) included private areas
of the park, 162,000 Ha. of which was in possession of the big landowners (part of that land was expropriated during the first government of General Peron). The recreative and touristic areas occupied 10% of the park (78. 377 Ha.), where the policy for for fostering tourism was concentrated. This was to begin under the management of Exequiel Bustillo, first president of the Directorship of the National Parks, and was to characterize the evolution of the park from then on.
The arrival of the railway after so many years of waiting was without doubt what permitted the flow of visitors and also marked, together with the creation of the parks, the beginning of a new period in which the town is still living. The determination of the government of General Justo not to permit the withdrawal of the dividends obtained inthe country by foreign business, caused these to re-invest their capital. In this way, the british owned Southern Railway Company, in combination with the State Railways, undertook to finish the San Antonio Oeste - Nahuel Huapi line, detained in Pilcaniyeu since 1925.
the end of 1933 the general construction camp was set up with an English
commission and an Argentine one. The work finally advanced at a good rate:
the bridge over the river Pichu-Lufu was already built and they had begun
work on the bridge over the river Nirihuau.
In May 1934 the train at last arrived in Bariloche. The inhabitants of Bariloche congregated in the station adorned with flags, to welcome the locomotive No. 501., and they celebrated the arrival of the train they had been awaiting since 1916 with a great barbecue.
The New City
"With the initiation of the National Parks, once the law was sanctioned, we set our sights on helping Bariloche progress. So that a humble village as it was at that time, could transform itself into a growing town that would be an expression of both our culture and of Argentine sentiment", wrote E. Bustillo in his book "The Awakening of Bariloche".
Nevertheless the first president of the Parks had a very personal understanding of the meaning of "Argentine Sentiment" as some pages further on he added:
"The spectacle offered by most of the towns and cities in our country, all the same, cut from the same mould and displaying a rudimentary culture, quite frankly horrified us. Our aim was to make Bariloche one of those towns with typical features, of certain architectural grace and with a european touch; like those picturesque mountaincentres which are so enchanting in Switzerland and the Tyrol."
of the "humble village" was left to the architects Alejandro Bustillo
and Ernesto Estrada who implanted in the Nahuel Huapi that "regional archetectural
style" in the Civic Centre, The Intendancy of the Nahuel Huapi Park, The
Cathedral and numerous private houses.