History of Villa Pehuenia



Long before Roca made the presence of white men in the region known today as Villa Pehuenia official, the trade between the Mapuches and Criollos had already started in this territory.

It was back then when don Alejandro Arce, owner of an estancia in Necochea and whose descendants may still be found in this area, used Paso del Arco to sell cattle in Chile.
The entire territory was ruled by chief Renque Curá, brother of legendary Calfucurá, until 1881, and the trade between Mapuches and Criollos increased up to the point of even moving the cattle that had been raided in the pampas, taking advantage of the areas known as El Arco and Icalma as accessible passes due to their low height.

As time went by, the Puel and Catalan communities managed to be acknowledged by the State, which granted them the lands where they live today by the execution of certain agreements. Later on, the first Huinca settlements started to emerge and State School No. 90 was created over seventy years ago in the area where Lakes Aluminé and Moquehue are joined by a narrow channel known as the angostura.

As far as logging is concerned, the great boom was brought along by the companies called Colombo and Álvarez & Durán in the 1950s. They ventured into timber transportation, a matchless exploit in those days when roads were quite rudimentary.

Thus, the logging industry started to emerge and outline a clear exploitation center in the Province of Neuquén: Moquehue. As a result of the importance gained by this area, a special envoy from the National Forest Institute designed a system to fight fires and build viewpoints in the entire area.
The growth of Villa Pehuenia and its surroundings was then set off. Many families chose this site to settle down and become part of the history of a city with a prospective future. The Carrahas, for instance, founded one of the first grocery stores in the area on the mouth of the Aluminé River; Paulino Catalán's family became established in Villa Pehuenia and Pacián Garro's, in Moquehue. Other grocery stores -a thriving commercial activity in those days- joined don Carraha's. Some of them were Colombo's convenience store, Cirilo de Gregorio's general store and Edgardo Garro's, which would later pass onto the hands of Orlando Almeira.

On January 20, 1989, the administration of engineer Pedro Salvatori resolved, by Decree No. 153, to create Villa Pehuenia's Development Committee, of which Mr. Raúl de Gregorio was appointed head. This established a deeper growth in the area and its people and made it possible to include the district in the provincial development plans. Likewise, tourist undertakings started to be projected into what today is a key activity in this zone. This way, Villa Pehuenia -a mountain village with a family atmosphere- began to acquire its identity, becoming well-known for the love its people feel for the environment and the deep respect for the Mapuche culture and its rich history.

Source: Comisión de Fomento de Villa Pehuenia


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