Neuquén History and Legends


In 1783 Basilio Villarino arrived at Confluencia coming from Fuerte Nuestra Señora del Carmen in a mission of exploration and reconnaisance, and then carried out several scientific expeditions leaded by Francisco Moreno, Martín Guerrico, Erasmo Obligado, and Eduardo O’Connor.
Basilio Villarino travelled through the rivers Limay and Negro, and we must remember that since 1862 there have been many consecutive juridical alternatives in the region.
In 1830, when the relationship with the aborigines, the primitive settlers, became very complicated, Governor Juan Manuel de Rosas sent a military expedition to carry the troops leaded by General Angel Pacheco to Confluencia in 1833.
On 13th October, 1862, national law Nº 28 was passed to nationalize all territories not included within the existing provinces.
Five years passed and law Nº 215 determined the southern frontier on the northern coast of rivers Neuquén and Negro from the cordillera to the ocean, but this could only be effective after the Conquest of the Desert and the passing of law 947 on October 4, 1878.
That same year, the Gobernación de la Patagonia was created by law 954, and Mercedes de Patagones (today Viedma) was declared capital.
On October 24, 1882, the Government divided the territories of La Pampa and Patagonia by law 1.265, being the limit between them the rivers Agrio, Neuquén and Negro.
In 1879, the Central Government entrusted General Julio Argentino Roca with what was called “Campaña al Desierto”, which had as a main objective to submit aborigines and incorporate those territories to the central government. Roca arrived in June, 1879 and founded Fortín primera División on the southern margin of river Neuquén, where Cipolletti is today.
This settlement encouraged the arrival of pioneers and new settlers to the area, and in 1899, when the railway started operating, the region developed significantly.
The present territory of Neuquén was thus divided into sections, until law 1.532 , passed on October 1, 1884, established the final limites.
In May 1902, the railway bridge over river Neuquén starts operating, as well as Neuquén station.
At that time, the river was crossed by raft. The capital of the Territorio del Neuquén was Chos Malal.
In 1904, governor Carlos Bouquet Roldán decided to move the capital of the territory to Confluencia, thus initiating the history of the city as capital.
In 1910, the work for the irrigation system of the valley started, what increased all activities and converted Neuquén into one of the most important cities in the area.
In 1915, the territory of Neuquén, already organized into 16 districts, was elevated to the hierarchy of province by law 14.408, passed on June 15, 1955.
In 1920, Neuquén was concentrating most of the provincial administrative activity, while small towns and colonies mainly devoted to agriculture were being born.
After the bridge over the river was concluded and the cities of Neuquén and Cipolletti were deffinitely joined, Neuquén became really integrated to the region and confirmed its leading position.
The province of Neuquen is the main hydroelectricity supplier in the country, with the power plants on the rivers Neuquén and Limay producing 35% of the total supply. This brought about an important administrative and commercial activity in the capital, and promoted its development.
It has a population of 27.000 inhabitants, an 18% of all Patagonia.
It is a lively city extending towards the "bardas" in densely populated neighbourhoods, while the cities of Plottier and Centenerio very near develop together with it.
It is important to point out that there is no official record nor a decree for the foundation of the city.

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