San Martín de los Andes was founded as a result of an agreement signed by and between General Rudecindo Roca and Chief Curruhuinca. Roca had reached these lands in 1898 while leading the Division of the Andes, whose purpose was to settle down in this territory. The agreement was prepared by Mr. Serafín O. Galán Deheza, who had become friends with the chief when he was exploring the area. Thus, this valley where the natives used to take shelter during the harsh winters became San Martín de los Andes.
With very primitive streets and roads that made water the best communication way, the early economy of the area revolved around forest exploitation as well as agriculture and livestock. Thus, eventually, it was decided that the mountain range area should be divided for the production of food.
The division consisted in the following scheme: wheat was the strong crop in the area known as La Vega, where 15 flour mills were settled. In this same area, cattle raising, supported by the excellent pasture land, was highly encouraged.
On the other hand, the gardens of the houses located in the valley of San Martín de los Andes slowly became orchards and sites where the most diverse fruit trees could be found. This led to the manufacture of homemade jam and syrup.
In the meantime, the activities carried out in the sawmills and the settlement of small families and populations took place mostly near the shores of Lake Lácar.
Finally, several colonists became established all along present Provincial Route 48 and devoted themselves to cattle-raising, orchards, wheat and corn crops and livestock, especially pen animals.
It should be mentioned that trade with neighboring Chile was encouraged and especially favored by the shortage and the primitive ways of communication as well as the huge distances that separate this town from other Argentinian cities.
Lanín National Park was founded in 1937. This substantially changed the life of the population. After this event, logging began to be restricted and new ways of communication with other areas in the country were opened up. Cattle-raising and agriculture activities vanished and tourism began to be strongly exploited. This never stopped. Even today, it represents the most important activity in the area supported by the opening of new roads with attractive natural views and ski trails at Mount Chapelco. Tourist operators, bank credits for private undertakings and the like complete a fruitful panorama for the development of one of the major and most attractive tourist destinations in Argentina.