History of San Carlos de Bariloche



Featuring imposing traits, this Patagonian scene not only boasts a wide array of tree species, including cypresses and coihues, but also a rich fauna in which rheas and huemuls stand out. Its sublime rivers and lakes of crystal clear waters are the home of the perch and the pleasant huillín, commonly referred to as "river cat".

All throughout this area, scenes range from the steppe to the forest in an East-West direction, to end up in the rainforest. Sights become more and more attractive with the color of wild berries, michay, taique or amancay. The landscape, its hues and size are watched by the condor, who beholds these natural wonders from the heights.

The appearance of man in these lands thousands of years ago is represented by the Tehuelche people, who arrived in the area of the Nahuel Huapi after the glaciation period. It was in the late eighteenth century that the Puelches and the Pehuenches came along, followed by the Araucanos, who managed to absorb the customs and traditions of the former until their culture was spread all around Patagonia, when they penetrated these territories across the Andes towards the East.

The Araucanos were the first ones to use the passes into the Argentinian territory through the Andes. Captain Juan Fernández, from Spain, also used them to access the Blest arm of Lake Nahuel Huapi, and later on, the Jesuits followed in 1653 to evangelize the area.

But it was not until 1872 that the first expeditions were encouraged by the Argentinian authorities in order to conquer the area. Finally, in 1880, the Argentinian army occupied part of the native territories and moved forward to explore the natural space in the region.

Thus, in 1892 the first white settlers started to arrive from Germany and North America. They became established on the shores of the Nahuel Huapi. One of these German immigrants, Carlos Wiederholdt, was a pioneer of local commerce. He built his house and a store and gave origin to the population of San Carlos del Bariloche. This man essentially devoted his life to the export of wool, leather, potato and cheese, among other goods.

In the meantime, in the surroundings of Lake Nahuel Huapi, the settlers lived on agriculture and cattle raising. The town developed next to the spot where the City of Bariloche lies today. It included small huts and houses made of cypress and coihue wood. A few years later, sawmills, silversmiths and dairy farms were established and an incipient trade with other populations in the area -such as Viedma and Carmen de Patagones- began.

The heterogeneous identity of the local population was finally defined when a new migratory current took place after 1900, this time from Switzerland. And so, Chilotes, German, Swiss and native Americans co-existed with their families and cultures, encouraged by devoted work and effort, facing the large distances lying between one settlement and the next. With the passing of time, the dwellers of this region specialized in more particular occupations that turned out to have a very important value, such as blacksmiths, shoe repairers, and the like.