The City of Río Grande (present head of the District of Río Grande), in the Province of Tierra del Fuego, may be considered the heart of the Ona land. Such is the case that it has even been known as Onaisin, Karukinka or Yank-Harvin (“my land”). Today, this mainly industrial city is the most densely populated in Tierra del Fuego.
Even if it was called Juárez Celman (to pay tribute to the then president of the Nation), the Grande River, after which this place has been named, was discovered in 1886 by an expedition led by Julio Popper. It was also called Popper, but Río Grande was a name that became easily popular among the inhabitants of this site. Therefore, this was the name finally chosen.
The Salesian Mission founded by Monsignor Fagnano was established in 1893 at the venue housing the Agronomy School today. This early settlement was the first record of white denizens in the city. Later on, new residents arrived, mostly from the region known as San Sebastián. These people had been workers at the gold mines that had already become obsolete.
Río Grande was officially acknowledged as an agricultural colony by President Hipólito Yrigoyen by a decree passed in July 1921, the same year in which it was founded. Later on, towards 1959, the development of oil activities encouraged a migratory current that would increase in the 1970s and 1980s after the passing of the Economic Promotion Law, which set forth tax exemptions and the possibility for those who resolved to bet on local industry to access subsidies.
The main tourist attractions in the city are the "old shell" and the wide array of nineteenth-century Salesian constructions. Early twentieth-century estancias also represent a must visit and many times the city is a mandatory stop for travelers heading for Ushuaia by land.
Angling is practiced in Río Grande, which has been referred to as the Argentinian Trout Angling Capital ever since 2003. The best rivers to fish are the Grande, the Menéndez and the Yrigoyen. Therefore, anglers from all over the world come along to this location. It is important to highlight that fishing in this area -where specimens weighing up to 15 kilograms may be caught- is considered a sport and that the catch-and-release policy is obligatory.