The development of tourism
Part of chapter 56 of William Rögind's book.
On 18th January 1924 a new tourist train service was started which the General Administration of the State Railways and the Southern Railway had resolved to run to the Far South — the mysterious and legendary land of the great Andean lakes, opening the doors to the traveller of an unknown kingdom.
The moderate price of the return journey and the appreciable comfort of the trip and of the hotels had the most promising and complete outcome. A tourist’s stay of a fortnight was enjoyed in various recreational campaigns, visiting the Patagonic villages, the picturesque estancias in the countryside, the mountains, woods and regional lakes.
For the metropolitan traveller who goes to Lake Nahuel Huapí on a pleasure trip, these journeys signify a new dimension within national tourism, up until now so minimal as immature in direction. It has been called to free it from all foreign prejudice and influence, facilitating the knowledge and opportunity within our own country, which is a duty neglected by Argentines towards a true objective.
Complementary to these tourism journeys and so that they might attain supreme merit it was necessary to centralise the concept, and give it its own national advertising, the cohesion of a permanent force capable of maintaining interest alive in the beautiful work being undertaken. Responding to this need an Asociación de Amigos de Nahuel Huapí, was formed spontaneously, brought about by gentlemen of solid culture and generous spirit, who proposed to dedicate much of their energies and all their enthusiasm to the growth of the great national park of the South.
Dr Manuel Augusta Montes de Oca, the president of the Commission, said that the first thing which had to be done was to supply the transport facilities for the commercial undertakings of the region. The establishment of the railway line to Nahuel Huapí establishes the necessary link for practical integration into our nation, and for its part the Comisión Pro-Parque will make it possible to collaborate in the work of the railways, supporting all that helps the creation of roads and means of making communication to the various parts of the region easier. Until now the Argentine has had little tourism, with the result that many inhabitants do not know the beauties which are here, which astonish the natives of countries known for their beautiful landscapes. But this ought to be considered as a patriotic work which was started with the formation of the Comisión Pro-Parque to make known the most beautiful sites of our homeland.
The idea of the Parque Nacional del Sud is due to Dr Francisco P. Moreno, the famous expert, who worked tirelessly in settling the international frontier with Chile (1902).
From the guide book to Nahuel Huapí and the Parque Nacional del Sud, edited by the tourism office of Messrs Hildebrant and Mejling of San Carlos de Bariloche, we take the following notes:
In recognition of the achievements for the homeland of the successful efforts of Dr Moreno, the Argentine Government granted him an area of three leagues located between Lago Nahuel Huapí (Puerto Blest) and Laguna Frías.
But the patriotic spirit of Moreno could not accept such a gift. He returned the lands to the Government with the request that the area of land should form the base for a future national park, for the benefit of all the inhabitants of the Republic which in its vast territories, blessed by insuperable natural treasures, has found the ideal point for strengthening the body and raising the spirit
The idea was favourably received by the Superior Government and by a decree of 8th April 1922 the Parque Nacional del Sur covering some 785, 000 hectares was established.
JOURNEY TO NAHUEL HUAPI
The national world development has today shortened the distance between all parts. Thus too Nahuel Huapí no longer remains “there in the South” as they used to say in some vague way.
For the traveller, the rails of the Southern and State Railways have shortened the long distance between the Capital of the Republic and its great national park.
Today a journey to Nahuel Huapí does not involve anything more than that required by any other journey to a far away place with good communication to the principal centres of the Republic. Without needing to depend on intermediaries, all passengers wanting to go to San Carlos de Bariloche on their own account, take the fast train to Carmen de Patagones which during the summer leaves Constitución on Tuesdays and Fridays at 18.35 hours.
Dinner is taken in the dining carriage of the Southern Railway and in the clean and roomy berth one can rest well. At 7.15 in the morning of Wednesdays and Saturdays respectively one reaches Bahía Blanca.
Without changing trains, and in the same berth, the journey to Carmen de Patagones continues, and is reached at 14.25 on Wednesdays or 15.48 on Saturdays. Before arrival, the representative of the firm undertaking the transfer, Don Julián Lavayen (acting for the Expreso “La Confianza” and the local agent for the tourism office of San Carlos de Bariloche) or his representative, indicates to each traveller the motor vehicles and launches which each traveller should take.
Nowadays, in 1936, this is radically and beneficially changing for the tourist.
The bridge over the Río Negro which links Patagones and Viedma and the network of the Southern Railway with that of the State Railways is now built. There is no changing. The traveller leaves Plaza Constitución station and reaches, without disruption, in the same sleeping carriage, with the maximum comfort, San Carlos de Bariloche. This work of progress, realised with determination, opens promising perspectives to Argentine tourism.
A stream of enquiring travellers grows. Month on month the most well-fed and enthusiastic are seen. In the appropriate seasons, travel firms organise economical excursions. The problem of hotels has been resolved in Nahuel Huapí.
Further ahead, competition will reduce the price of accommodation. And thus the Argentine will have its own “region of paradise” with sufficient power of attraction which will bring the renewed phalanxes of foreign tourists.
May the comfort and strength in this sense never cease projecting its influence which rewards sacrifices and satisfies aspirations. Thus we say that, on leaving Viedma, and with the splendid light of a new day, the voyager already reaches the centre of Patagonia, and from the windows of the train, may contemplate those immense vistas, lonely and majestic in their greatness and their impressive silence.
At times, in the middle of the solitude, extend estancias of great size, which many European principalities, centres of population important for the commerce of the region, such as Machinchao and Ingeniero Jacobacci. This last was known as Guahuel Niyeu, and today bears the name of the meritorious constructor of the railway line to here.
The station after Ingeniero Jacobacci is Clemente Onelli, the name of the famous director of the zoological garden of the Federal Capital since that episode in 1922 when, under his instructions, a commission was sent to Nahuel Huapí, charged with looking for the legendary plesiosaurus, whose imagined appearance in the waters of the lake occupied, in those times, the scientific circles of almost the whole world.
After leaving Clemente Onelli, the train enters the picturesque Cañadon de la Viuda whose traverse is the most interesting since leaving Viedma, due to the numerous curves, gradients and bridges in the midst of the folds of the high peaks. Among truly splendid natural portraits and scenes, San Carlos de Bariloche is reached. This is the heart of this region of such varied and marvellous beauty.
The BAGSR's route to Neuquén