The valley where Cochrane is sheltered was discovered in 1899 by the explorer Hans Steffens while ranging up the river Baker for the first time.
In 1908, the Sociedad Explotadora del Baker, owned by Magellanic cattle breeders under the administration of Lucas Bridges, hired the land and introduced sheep, thus originating Estancia Valle Chacabuco, still in existance nowadays.
The tracing of the town on rented land was carried out in 1930 by order of the government, but only a school and a grocery store were kept until 1954 when public services were installed and the town was founded under the name of Pueblo Nuevo. At present, it is a flourishing town on an area of 8500 km2 inhabitted by some 3000 people.
Cochrane is capital of the province and has aerial services to the lakes and the coast.
The geography around the town presents evidence of active glacial action, depository of the northern ice field, the branches of which feed a series of tributaries of the river Baker, like Nef and Colonia, among the most important ones. The western valleys have been powerfully carved by glacial action, by tectonic movements, and to a lesser extent by wind action.
One of the most important hydric systems in the country is in this valley. The river Baker collects the water of numerous rivers regulated by important watersheds like the Cochrane, Salto and Ñadis.
The pampa is another typical form of relief, a plain or plateau carved by the wind, where sheep graze mainly on broom sedge.
In Campo de Hielo Norte snow covered peaks stand out within an abundant native forest with an important fauna, where huemules are protected in the National Reserve Tamango.
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The rise of the estancias has changed the empty limitless space into a rural production environment that enabled the country to be positioned among the first suppliers of raw material in the world.
Towards the south, the estancias have given the scenery a new shape. Getting through the harsh winter, the intense snowfalls and the incessant wind, they have become real settlements scattered in the vastness of the fields.