Puerto Natales History and Legends


The gulf Almirante Montt was discovered in 1557 by the sailor Juan Ladrilleros, and in 1579 by Sarmiento de Gamboa. Both penetrated through the oriental mouth of the Strait of Magellan. In 1830, the schooner Adelaide conducted by the officials Skyring and Kirke made the first recconnosaince trip in the great gulf.
By 1892 and 1897 two explorers drew the cartography of the area and determined the value of these lands for cattle raising: the first explorer was Captain Eberhard, and the second the Swedish Otto Nordenskjold.
Eberhard settled with the first colonists, and the sector was colonized since 1893, but it was only in 1905 when the government opened the bidding for the enormous prairies next to the frontier where the big estancias settle: Tranquilo, Cerro Castillo, Cerro Guido, and Torres del Paine. Three of them belonged to the Sociedad Explotadora de Tierra del Fuego, which built a gigantic slaughterhouse, cold storage house, tannery and wool washing place in Puerto Bories.
Natales derives from the Latin term natalis, which means birth. The city is situated by a branch of the sea called Canal SeƱoret, which mixes its water to the south with those of the gulf Almirante Montt, a big internal sea, and to the northwest with the fjord Ultima Esperanza, thus called when its discoverer Juan Ladrillero desperately and unsuccessfully looked for a west outlet to the Strait of Magellan.
The city was founded in 1911, and has a population of 15.116 inhabitants. It was colonized by Chileans from the magic island of ChiloƩ, who supported with their work the development of livestock raising, an activity initiated by German and English colonists, who persevered to make of Patagonia one of the main livestock producers and exporters in the world until the end of the 70s.
Today tourism, livestock raising, and artisan fishing are the main economic activities.

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