History of Santa Elena

Santa Elena, The Mission

Even if there was no steady settlement at the present location of Santa Elena on the days of the conquest, the region known as Argentinian Mesopotamia was dwelled by nomadic communities and influenced by the Jesuit missionary work. The religious order known as "The Company of Jesus" was founded by the Spanish Saint Ignatius of Loyola in 1540. Nine years later, the first missionary -Manuel de Nóbrega- was sent to America. He founded a reduction in San Pablo, part of the Brazilian territory today. Saint Ignatius' mission, founded in 1609, was the first one to be settled in the present Argentinian territory. Each native family had a house and a plot of land to work. Agriculture and cattle-raising were the main tasks encouraged by the Jesuits amidst the local population. The sedentary habits of the Guaraníes in the Argentinian Mesopotamia facilitated the labor of the monks, who shortly succeeded in converting the natives to Catholicism and putting up real economic and military units with their help. Santa Elena lies to the northwest of the Province of Entre Ríos, on the left margin of the Paraná River. It stands on abrupt cliffs that stand out for their natural beauty. Its origins are linked to livestock exploitation. In 1868, Eustaquio de la Riestra bought fields and made the first reference to Santa Elena. In 1871, he settled down a venue where meat was salted together with his brother Roberto and with Federico González. In 1880, the salting venue was purchased by the company known as Kemmerich y Cía. and it was named "Santa Elena" (Saint Helen). The population developed through the migratory contributions made by various ethnic groups such as Russians, Polish, Spaniards, Italian and Mocoví natives that arrived from the East of the Province of Santa Fe. Boasting a wide array of fish species, this place offers plenty of fishing. Bogas, patíes, catfish, manduví and armado may be caught in local waters. During the 1970s, this site enjoyed its splendor as the "paradise of fishing", which lasted until the 1980s. Immersed in the "Northwestern Tourist Corridor in Entre Ríos", the fundamental activity of its community revolves around the meat industry. This zone is extremely good for cattle-raising and honey production.

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