History of Sarmiento

Sarmiento used to be the land of the Araucanos, or Mapuches, as they called themselves. They came from the region known as Araucanía, in central Chile, and entered Argentinian territory massively while escaping the Spanish, who forced them to settle down in unfavorable areas upon their landing in Chile. These areas were not suitable for the lifestyle and the activities this people carried out, as they had been a sedentary people whose main activity was to work the land and to plant corn, potatoes, peppers, beans and pumpkin. They also worked metals, made pottery and woven items.

In 1880, an Englishman named Musters and explorer Carlos Moyano were looking for the cattle-drivers' road and found this place, which they immediately recognized as a key spot of a major Tehuelche track. Four years later, in that very area, Governor Fontana came across Juan Acosta, who was driving cattle from Río Negro to the Strait of Magellan.

Later on, the work of an Italian man called Francisco Pietrobelli was essential for the development of Sarmiento. This man arrived in Buenos Aires in 1888 as an auditor for the railway works that would join Madryn and Trelew. As he finished his task of going around the southern area of the province, he found a valley that would later be known as Valle Ideal (Ideal Valley) and would open up a way to Camarones and Rada Tilly. After a while, the first settlement of Colonia Ideal (Ideal Colony), made up by five Welsh families and a Lithuanian one, would start.

This place was not called Sarmiento until 1897, when the then president of the country, José Evaristo Uriburu, encouraged the foundation of Colonia Pastorial Sarmiento through his decree 12,161. Sarmiento then became consolidated as a town inhabited by people of very diverse origins. It came to shelter 17 different communities.

A railway that would join Comodoro Rivadavia and Sarmiento was supposed to go across this city that today has approximately 7,200 denizens. Unfortunately, the project was abandoned and finally canceled in 1970.

The district has a valley irrigated by the Senguerr River and a large system of canals. It occupies about 42,000 hectares that are distributed into 150 agricultural exploitation venues. Growing alfalfa, apples and tomatoes represents the main source of income in the area.

The relation established with the indigenous inhabitants was quite good, specially fostered at estancia El Relincho, owned by Adán García, who worked with a group of natives to encourage the breeding of the criollo horse. That is the origin of Gato and Mancha, the famous horses that joined Buenos Aires and Nueva York in 1920.


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