The first record of Malargüe or Malal – Hue (a Mapuche word that stands for “place of rocky cliffs” or “place of pens”) dates back to the days of the discovery and exploration of these lands, when in December, 1552, Francisco Villagra and seventy men on horseback carried out the first expedition to the East of the Andes, possibly in Southern Mendoza. This expedition spread the alarming news about the natives dwelling in Malal – Hue, who were feared to join the Araucanos from Chile.
It was not until 1846, and after several expeditions, that the fort of Malargüe was raised by Captain don Juan Troncoso. In 1847, Commander J. Antonio Rodríguez informed about the foundation of the village called El Milagro (The Miracle) between El Chacay Creek and the Malargüe River, which used to contain a white population of 120 people, including men and women.
Malargüe becomes a Department by virtue of a regulation project carried out by the Executive Branch of the provincial government and passed by the honorable chamber of legislators on April 30, 1877, when there were scarce dwellers in the vast region and the savages were still struggling to defend the soil through raids and termination all around the new provincial jurisdiction.
Five long years passed before Regulation 1877 could be complied with. A decree passed on August 10, 1882, during the administration of Governor José Miguel Segura, set forth that Malargüe be divided into three headquarters and that authorities should be appointed.
In 1866, during the administration of General Rufino Ortega, the head village of Malargüe was founded by a decree passed on January 16, 1886.
The denomination of the Department of Malargüe was changed ten years after its creation during the administration of Tiburcio Benegas, by virtue of the decree passed on May 17, 1887, pursuant to the content of a regulation bearing the same date. The new name was “Coronel Beltrán” after a priest of the Argentinian Army who used to be the chief of the arsenal that provided the glorious army led by San Martín with weapons, ammunition and machinery.
The Department of Coronel Beltrán lasted 5 years and then was reintegrated to the Department of San Rafael, which used to be called 25 de Mayo, during the administration of Deoclecio García, by regulation passed on March 26, 1892.
In 1902, the fields of El Chacay and Cañada Colorada, excluding 2,500 hectares to be used for the village of Malargüe, were granted in favor of Rufino Ortega.
Finally, in 1950, during the administration of Blas Brísoli, the Department of Malargüe was created by the provisions of Regulation #1937, dated 11/16/1950, which provided for its autonomy as a department once again.