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Translated, and with an Historical 
Chapter by BERNARD Ml ALL. 
With a Supplementary Chapter 
by Dawson A. Vindin, 
a Map and 36 Illustrations 

Cloth, 151- net. Third Impression 

"Altogether the book is full of infor- 
mation, which shows the author to have 
made a most careful study of the 
country." — Westminster Gazette. 

T. Fisher Unwin Ltd London 


Thirteen miles above the confluerice with the Parana. Like the Parana at the Salto 
■ Guatjra, the river cuts through a layer 0/ basalt intercalated in the red sandstone. The 
joresi of the province oj Misicnes has a tropical character near the river. The araucarias 
.cover only the higher parts oj the tableland. 

iPlate I. 





Agrege d'Histoire et de Geographic 
Translated by JOSEPH MUGABE 



** ^fl? 



First published in English in ig22 

(All rights reserved) 


In the following chapters I have endeavoured to indi- 
cate the essential aspects of colonization in modern 
Argentina : the conquest of the soil by man, the 
exploitation of its natural resources, the development 
of agriculture and cattle-breeding, and the growth 
of the population and enlargement of the urban 

For a new country like Argentina it is not convenient 
to adopt the strictly regional plan which seems to be 
the best means of giving a complete and methodical 
description of the historic countries of western Europe, 
where it is the only way to keep in close touch with the 
geographical facts. In western Europe each region is 
really an independent unity. It has for ages lived 
upon its own resources ; each population-group has 
its horizon definitely limited ; and the complex action 
of the environment upon man, and of man upon the 
country, has proceeded in each district rather on the 
lines of an isolated and impassioned dialogue between 
the two. It is quite different in Argentina. There, 
many of the facts which we have to record consist in 
an expansion of the population, a spread of methods 
of exploitation from zone to zone of the country, 
and the influence upon colonization of commerce 
and of the varying needs of the markets of the 

It may be well to reply in advance to a criticism 
which my Argentine friends are sure to make. They 
will complain that I have paid no attention to the 


people of Argentina, the creators of the greatness of 
the country. It is true that I have deliberately re- 
frained from any reference to the political and moral 
life of the Republic, the national character and its 
evolution, the stoicism of the gaucho, the industry of 
the colonist and the merchant, or the patriotism of 
the Argentinians generally. My work is not a study 
of the Argentine nation, but a geographical introduction 
to such a study. 

I began the work during a stay in Argentina which 
lasted from April 1912 to August 1914. In the course 
of these two years I was able to visit most parts of 
the country ; and, as the information I gathered during 
my travels is one of my chief sources, I give here a 
summary of my itineraries. 

October-November 1912 : Rosario — Region of the colonies of 
Santa Fe — Forestry-industries of the Chaco Santiagueno — 
Banados of the Rio Dulce — Salta — Jujuy — Sierra de la Lurn- 

November-December 1912 : Tucurndn — Valley of Tapi — Santa 
Maria to the west of Aconcagua — Cafayate (Valley of Calchaqui). 

December igi 2- January 1913 : Catamarca— Andalgala — Valley 
of Pucara — C6rdoba — Villa Maria. 

January-February 191 3 : Region of the Pampas (Province 
of Buenos Aires^ south of C6rdoba and of S. Luis, district of 
the Central Pampa). 

March 191 3 : Corrientes — Posadas — Asunci6n — Forest -indus- 
tries of the Chaco of Santa Fe. 

August 1913 : Region of the Pampas (Province of Buenos 


March 1914 : Lake Nahuel Huapi — Valcheta^ — San Antonio — 
The Rio Negro. 

April 1914 : Rioja — Sierra de los Llanos — San Juan — Mendoza. 

July 1914 ; Entre Rios. 

These journeys, by rail or on well-known roads, 
were not supposed to be for the purpose of exploration 


or discovery. Their one object was to enable me to 
make a provisional classification of the chief types 
of country and forms of colonization, and to draw up 
a methodical programme for more thorough research. 
The work which I trusted to do in a more leisurely 
way was, however, suspended in 1914, and, in spite 
of my very strong desire to do so, I was unable to 
resume it on the spot in 1919. I have therefore been 
compelled to publish my first observations, completing 
them, as well as I could, by a bibliographical study of 
the country. I have made use of some fragments 
of a popular work which I began, at the request of 
the Argentine Commission, for the International Exhi- 
bition at San Francisco, of which several chapters 
were published in my absence by the University of 
Tucuman (Pierre Denis, Modern Argentina : Chapters 
of Economic Geography. Publications of the University 
during the Centenary of the Congress of Tucuman 
of 1816. Buenos Aires, 1916).^ 

My knowledge of the publications on Argentina has 
two conspicuous gaps. The first is deliberate. I 
declined to study at second hand the documents and 
chronicles which are our sources, to the end of the 
eighteenth century, for the history of the various 
provinces that were to form Argentina. Hence the 
historical data on colonization which will be found in 
the following chapters relate almost entirely to the 
nineteenth century. 

The second gap I was, to my great disappointment, 
unable to fill up. A large part of the local publications 
— official or other — maps, statistics, etc., never reached 
Europe, and Buenos Aires is the only place where 
one can make a thorough study of them. • These pub- 
lications were available to me until 1914. Since then 

» I take the opportunity to thank M. J. B. Teran, who undertook 
to edit these chapters, and to express, with him, my satisfaction that 
events have falsified his rather pessimistic predictions as regards 
the author. 


I have been restricted to the resources of the Paris 
and London hbraries, which are very scanty ; and 
less has been sent from Argentina since the war. I 
have not the complete statistics up to date. 

I trust, however, that this picture of Argentina has 
much more than a retrospective character ; that it is 
not out of date before it is published. I may add 
that no statistics would enable one to solve the problem 
which Argentina in 1920 presents to an observer. 
Has the European War merely retarded the economic 
evolution of the country, or has it given that evolution 
a new direction ? Will or will not the relations 
which Argentina is now resuming with the rest of 
the world be of the same character as the pre-war 
relations ? 

The effects of the war upon the life of the country 
must not all be put on the same footing. That some 
of the exporters to Argentina have gained by the war 
and others lost — that the share of the United States, 
and even of Japan, has greatly increased — is a fact 
that may be regarded from the Argentinian point of 
view as of secondary importance. The war has, more- 
over, had the effect of disorganizing marine transport 
and bringing about a sort of relative isolation which 
is not yet quite over. The reduction in the imports 
of English coal has made the petroleum wells of Riva- 
davia of greater value to the country. It has compelled 
the Argentinians to make a hurried inventory of their 
natural resources in the way of fuel. Local industries 
have tried to meet the needs of the Argentinian market, 
where they had no longer to bear the competition of 
European goods. The grave disturbance of prices has 
enabled them to export certain products which had 
hitherto been confined to home markets. The war 
has, moreover, not interfered with the existing streams 
of export on a large scale from Argentina. The Repub- 
lic continues to send its cereals, meat, hides and wool 
to Europe ; and there is no reason to suppose that 


the competition of buyers is likely to diminish, or 
that the cultivation of wheat and lucerne must become 
less profitable. 

The two essential effects of the war seem to have 
been the stopping of the stream of immigration and 
the progressive reduction of the support which Europe 
gave to the work of colonization in the form of advances 
of capital. 

From 1914 to 1918 only 272,000 immigrants landed 
at Buenos Aires, while 482,000 emigrants left the 
country. In 1918 the figure of immigration and emi- 
gration was only 47,000, less than a tenth of what it 
was in a normal year before the war. The withdrawal 
of European capital was felt from the very beginning 
of the war, and it has gone on uninterruptedly, capital 
from North America not being enough to supply the 
deficiency entirely. At the same time the extraordin- 
arily favourable balance of trade has led to the storing 
of an ample reserve of capital in the country. Argen- 
tina has, in a very short time, won a financial inde- 
pendence which, in normal conditions, would have 
entailed long years of work and prosperity. 

However it may seem, these two facts — the inter- 
ruption of immigration and the accumulation of capital 
— cannot be considered independently of each other. 
The inquiry opened by the Social Museum of Argentina 
{La immigracion despties de la guerra, Museo Social 
Argentino, " Bol. Mensual," viii, 1919, nos. 85-90) 
show that a speedy restoration of immigration is expected 
in the Republic. Certainly it seems clear that the 
political and social insecurity in Europe, the misery 
of the old world, will probably enhance the attractions 
of Argentina. We must remember, however, that the 
stream of emigration from Europe to the Republic in 
the nineteenth, and the beginning of the twentieth, 
century was provoked by a complex combination of 
economic conditions which were closely related to each 
other. High wages in Argentina were connected with 


the high interest on money ; that is to say, in other 
words, with the scarcity of capital. The future will 
decide whether immigration, and the rapid progress 
of colonization and production, which characterize 
pre-war Argentina can be adjusted to the policy of 
accumulation of capital to which the war has condemned 
the country. 





The physical environment — Colonization and the natural 
regions — The struggle with the Indians — Argentine unity — 
Argentina and the world. 



The inhabited zones of the Andes in the north-west — 
Valles, Quebradas, Puna — The irrigation of the valles — 
The historic routes — Convoys of stock — The breeding of 
mules and the fairs — The struggle of the breeders against 
drought — The Sierra de los Llanos. 



Tucumdn and the road to Chile — The climate and the culti- 
vation of the sugar-cane — The problem of manual labour — 
Irrigation at Mendoza — Water-rights — Viticulture — Protec- 
tion and the natural conditions. 



Manual labour on the obrajes — The land of the banados and 
the agricultural cantons of Corrientes — The timber-yards 
of the Chaco and the tannic-acid works of the Parang — 
The exploitation of the mate — The forestry industry and 






The arid tableland and the region of glacial lakes — The 
first settlements on the Patagonian coast and the indigenous 
population — Extensive breeding — The use of pasture on 
the lands of the Rio Negro — Transhumation. 



The limits of the prairie — The rains — The wind and the 
formation of the clay of the Pampas — The wind and the 
contour — The zones of colonization on the Pampas — Hunting 
wild cattle and primitive breeding — The sheep-farms — 
The ranches — The region of " colonies " — The region of 
lucerne, maize, and wheat — The combination of agriculture 
and breeding — The economic mechanism of colonization — 
The exchanges between the different zones of the Pampas. 



Roads on the plain — The salt road — The " trade route " — 
Transport by ox-waggons — Arrieros and Troperos — Rail- 
ways and colonization — The trade in cereals — Home traffic 
and the reorganization of the system. 



The use of the river before steam navigation — Floods — 
The river plain — The bed of the Parar.5. and its changes — 
The estuary and its shoals — Maritime navigatioa — The boats 
on the Paran4. 


The distribution of the population — The streams of emigra- 
tion to the interior — Seasonal migrations — The historic 
towns — The towns of the Pampean region — Buenos Aires. 


INDEX 291 



I. THE FALLS OF THE YGUASSU . . . Frontispiece 










CHAINS . 48 















CHACO OF SANTE FE . . . . . . 128 

















1^0 FEET ELEVATION) ,,,,,19.^ 











BANK 244 














yn. ESTUARY OF TIfE FTO m I-A PLATA , , . 3,'^4 

The Argentine Republic 



The physical environment — Colonization and the natural regions — 
The struggle with the Indians — Ai'gentine unity — Argentina 
and the world. 

The South-American continent is divided, from west 
to east, into three great zones. The lofty chains of 
the Andes stretch along the Pacific coast ; at the foot 
of these are immense alluvial tablelands ; further east 
are the level plains of the Atlantic coast. The eastern 
zone, the tablelands, ends southward at the mouth of 
the Rio de la Plata. It enters Argentine territory only 
in the north-east corner of the province of Misiones. 
Below 35° S. lat. the alluvial plains open freely upon 
the ocean. The position of Buenos Aires, in the thres- 
hold of the plain of the Pampas, is somewhat like that 
of Chicago at the beginning of the prairies ; if you 
imagine the north-eastern States and eastern Canada 
struck off the map, and the sea penetrating inland as 
far as the Lakes. 

The three essential aspects of Argentine scenery 
are mountain, plain, and river. The Parana, indeed, 
is a whole natural region in itself, with its arms and its 
islands, and the ever-changing low plain over which 
its floods spread, as one sees it from the top of the clay 
barrancas (cliffs) ; though it is so broad that one cannot 
see the opposite bank. It wanders over the plain like 

2 " 


a foreigner, an emissary from tropical America ; for it 
has a flora of its own and tepid waters which often 
cause a fog over the estuary where they mingle with 
the waters of the sea. 

From the general mass of the Argentine plains, we 
must set apart the region between the Parana and 
the Uruguay, which Argentinians call " Mesopotamia." 
While aeolian clays form the soil of the Pampa on the 
right bank of the Parana, fluvial deposits — sands and 
gravel, in which it is impossible to distinguish the 
contribution of the Uruguay from that of the Parana — 
cover a great part of Mesopotamia. The earlier beds 
of the rivers may be traced here, not only by the alluvial 
deposits they have left, but by the lagoons which still 
mark their course. Running waters have shaped the 
landscape and scooped out a system of secondary valleys, 
and these reflect the history of the river itself and the 
variations of base-level which led to alternate periods 
of erosion and deposit. 

On the right bank, on the contrary, the Parana 
has no tributaries of any importance except at the 
extreme north of the country. The scarcity of running 
water is, in fact, one of the characteristic features 
of the plain of the Pampas. Except in the east, along 
the Parana, where a network of permanent streams 
develops on a comparatively impermeable and fairly 
humid soil, and except at the foot of the mountains, 
where irregular torrents and streams, swollen after 
a storm and scanty in the dry season, disappear, as a 
rule, within sight of the hills that gave them birth, 
there is no superficial organized drainage. As a whole, 
the alluvial covering of the Pampas, the upper beds 
of which are cut through by the barranca of the 
Parana, is not of river origin ; it was brought and 
distributed by the wind, which took the place of running 
water. The clay of the Pampas is a present from 
the winds. The increasing dryness of the climate 
toward the west, as one approaches the Cordillera, 


explains the feebleness of the erosion by water and 
the extent of the erosion by wind. 

It is aridity, too, that gives their particular character 
to the Argentine Andes. They have little trace of 
perpetual snow, the lower limit of which approaches 
to within about four miles of the Bolivian frontier. 
There are no glaciers there ; they reappear in the south 
only in the latitude of San Juan and Mendoza, on the 
flanks of the three giants of the southern Cordillera, 
Mercedario, Aconcagua, and Tupungato. Below the 
small number of steep furrows which the glaciers have 
carved, and usually up to the top of the mountain, 
there spreads what has been called, very expressively, 
" the zone of rubbish." In this the winter's snows, 
fretted by the sun in that clear atmosphere, form those 
multitudes of narrow pyramids which the Argentinians 
compare to processions of white-robed pilgrims. The 
underlying rock is rarely visible. It is covered with 
a thick cloak of rubbish, split off by the frost, which 
the slow-moving waters released by the melting of the 
snows heap up at the foot of the slopes, at the bottom 
of depressions. The half-buried summits are succeeded 
by basins of accumulation. In the valleys round the 
mountains there are immense beds of detritic, half- 
rounded shingle. The torrents have cut their way 
through the alluvial mass, and they flow at the 
foot of high terraces which mark the sites of former 

The spread of colonization toward the south during 
the last generation has extended Argentine territory 
beyond the limits of these classic scenes. The Patagonian 
Andes differ profoundly from the Northern Andes ; 
and the change is not more sudden than that of the 
climate, to which it is due. Going toward the south, 
one passes, almost without a break, from the Atlas 
Mountains to Scandinavia. The moisture increases 
in proportion as the mean temperature falls. The 
mountains are covered with snow, and the glaciers 


lengthen. In one part of Patagonia they still form 
a continuous cap, an " inland sea," concealing the 
rock over the entire central zone of the Cordillera ; 
though they are only the shrunken remainder of a 
glacial cap which was once far more extensive. Here 
ice was the chief sculptor of the scenery. It has made 
elevated tablelands, broadened the deep valleys which 
cut the flank of the mountain, polished their sides, and 
deposited at the point where they open out the amphi- 
theatres of the moraines, behind which the waters have 
accumulated and formed lakes ; and these lakes stretch 
back like fiords to the heart of the Cordillera, and are 
the pride of Patagonia. 

The waters of these moisture-laden mountains have, 
to the east, carved out the Patagonian tableland. 
It is crossed by broad and boldly cut valleys, several 
of which, abandoned by the rivers which scoured 
them, are now dead valleys. The rubbish from the 
wearing down of the mountains and the glacial moraine 
has been spread over the whole face of the tableland 
in the form of beds of gravel. But the rivers that 
rise in the Andes cross a country of increasing aridity 
as they descend eastward. There is no tributary to 
add to their volume. There is none of that softening 
of lines, of that idle flow of a meandering stream which 
characterizes the final stage of a river in a moist 
district. Their inclination remains steep, and their 
waters continue to plough up coarse sediment ; and 
everywhere, up to the fringes of the valleys, the fluting 
of the sandstone and steepness of the cliffs bear 
witness, like the edges of the hamadas of the Sahara, 
to some other form of erosion than that effected by 
running water — the influence on the country of the 
westerly winds. On the tableland the wind polishes 
the rounded pebbles, makes facets on them, and gives 
them the colouring of the desert. 

Thus from the north to the south of Argentina 
there is a complete contrast in the way in which the 


controlling forces of the landscape are distributed. 
In the north the moist winds come from the east ; the 
rains lessen as they pass westward. The clays, capped 
with black soil, of Buenos Aires are aeolian deposits, 
brought by the wind from the desolate steppes which 
close the Pampa to the west, fixed and transformed 
by the vegetation of a moister region. In the south, 
on the contrary, the rains come from the Pacific, 
and the fiuvio-glacial alluvial beds of the Patagonian 
tableland are evidence of copious reserves of moisture 
in the Andes ; but the arid climate in which the waters 
have left them has made its mark upon their surface. 

This diversity of the physical environment is only 
fully brought out by colonization. It is colonization, 
the efforts and attempts of human industry to adjust 
agricultural or pastoral practices to the natural condi- 
tions, which enable us to assign the limits of the natural 
regions. In this differentiation it is essential to notice 
the historical element. 

The introduction of new crops gives a geographical 
meaning, which had hitherto escaped observation, 
to climatological limits such, for instance, as the line 
of 400 millimetres of rainfall which is the western 
frontier of the region of cereals. These limits of crops 
remain uncertain for a time, then experience and 
tradition gradually fix them. They always keep a 
certain elasticity, however, advancing or receding 
according as the market for the particular produce 
is favourable or unfavourable. 

Improvement in the methods of exploiting the soil — 
the adoption of better agricultural machinery, dry 
farming, etc. — usually leads to the extension of the 
sphere of a particular type of colonization, as it enables 
this type to overcome some natural obstacle which 
restricted its expansion. Sometimes, however, it 
brings to light a new obstacle and creates a new 
geographical limit. 

To this category belongs the northern limit of the 


belt of selective breeding, which slants across the 
plain of the Pampas from the Sierra de Cordoba to the 
Parana. The more or less degenerate cattle of the 
natives had spread over the whole of the South 
American continent, except the tropical forests, since 
the seventeenth century, adapting themselves easily 
to very different climatic conditions, from the Venezue- 
lan llanos to the sertao of Bahia and the plains of 
Argentina. But pedigree animals, more valuable 
and more delicate, introduced on to the Pampas fifty 
years ago, are not able to resist the malady caused by 
a parasite called the garrapate. Hence the southern 
limit of the garrapate suddenly became a most im- 
portant element in the economic life of the Republic. 
It would lose its importance if we discovered a serum 
that would give the animals immunity against Texas 

The range ot one and the same cause varies infinitely 
with the circumstances. The limit of the prairie, as 
of the scrub [monte) which surrounds it on every side, 
and keeps it at a distance of 320 to 440 miles from 
Buenos Aires, had no decisive influence on primitive 
colonization. Whether covered with grasses or brush- 
wood, the plain is equally suitable for extensive breed- 
ing. The ranches are the same on both sides of 
the border. At the end of the nineteenth century, 
however, when the area of cultivation increased, the 
prairie was at once found to be superior. The labour 
required for clearing the brushwood before the plough 
can work is enough to divert from it, at least for some 
time, the stream of agricultural colonization. While 
the population of the monte, wood-cutters and breeders, 
are indigenous, the prairie has absorbed the immigrants 
from Europe, and the border of the scrub has become 
in many places an ethnographical frontier.^ 

The changes which man has made in the floral land- 

' See E. A. S. Delachaux, " Las regiones fisicas de la Republica 
Argentina," Rev. Museo Plata, xv, 1908, pp. 102-131, 


The bottom of the valley is 8,000 feet above sea-level ; the sides buried under rubbish. It is 
especially in this latitude, above a height of 10,600 feet, in the zone where the moisture falls 
as snow even in summer, that the rock 's everywhere buried under its own rubbish. This is 
Keidel's Schuttzone. // extends to the foot of the Alpine peak.s, carved by glaciers. 

Photograph by Moody, Buenos Aires. 

^ .... ,t- .^-Xlr 


Eastern slope of the Sierra de Santa Victoria, 65 miles from the Bolivian frontier, in the zone 
of summer rain. The valleys have been filled with an enormous mass of torrential alluvia. 
The Water afterwards made a course through the mobile deposits. 

Photograph by Keidel, Mmes Division. 
(Plate II. 

To face p. 22. 


scape are, as a rule, slight. The limits of the forest 
zone have scarcely been altered. The beech forest of 
the southern Andes seems to be less tenacious than the 
monte which surrounds the Pampa, and it has been 
ravaged by fire along the whole edge of the southern 
steppe at 37° S. lat. The work of man is generally 
confined to changing the primitive complexion of the 
natural formations, without altering their general 
appearance. Thus valuable essences are disappearing 
from the forest and the scrub, the larch and the cypress 
from the district of the Patagonian Lakes, and the red 
quebracho from Santiago del Estero. 

A change that is scarcely visible, but is of consider- 
able economic importance, thus takes place in the 
vegetation of the prairie owing to the presence of 
herds. The pasto Juerte, composed of rough grasses, 
which is the natural vegetation, is being succeeded 
by the pasto duke, in which annual species, soft grasses, 
leguminous plants, etc., predominate. It is mainly 
composed of plants of European origin. The difference 
between the pasto dulce and the pasto fuerte or duro 
is so important for the farmer that there is hardly 
a single work on Argentina which does not dwell on 
it. The idea, however, that the pasto dulce has ad- 
vanced steadily westward, starting from the vicinity 
of Buenos Aires and constantly enlarging its domain, 
is not strictly accurate. In 1895 Holmberg ^ traced 
the western limit of the zone of the pasto dulce through 
Pergamino, Junin, Bragado, Azul, Ayacucho, and Mar 
Chiquita. When we compare this with earlier observa- 
tions, we see that in the course of the nineteenth century 
the zone of the pasto dulce has extended by about a 
hundred miles on the southern Pampa. When Darwin 
travelled from Bahia Blanca to Buenos Aires in 1833, 
he found no pasto dulce except round Monte, on the 
right bank of the Salado. Further north, on the other 

' Holmberg, " La Flora de la Republica Argentina," in the Secundo 
Censo de la Republica Argentina, vol. i. (Buenos Aires, li 


hand, the extent of the pasto dulce does not seem to 
have altered appreciably. The expedition to the Salt 
Lakes in 1778 found that there were already thistles 
beyond the line of the ranches, and these are character- 
istic of the pasto dulce in the Chivilcoy region on the 
Salado, which was then abandoned to herds of wild 
cattle. " There was thistle enough to cook," says the 
journal of the expedition. The difference is connected 
with the history of colonization in the province of 
Buenos Aires, where ground was gained only toward 
the south between 1800 and 1875. Since 1895 the 
pasto dicro has been eliminated by agriculture rather 
than by the feet of the herds. Hence the advance of 
the pasto dulce is no longer in a continuous line moving 
toward the west. It is sporadic, depending upon the 
construction of new railways which open up the plain 
to the plough.! 

Colonization does more than emphasize the indivi- 
duality of each of the natural regions. It connects 
together different features, and blends them in a com- 
plex vital organism which goes on evolving and renewing 

The occupation of the whole of the soil of Argentina 
by white colonists is quite a recent event. The second 
half of the nineteenth century was characterized by 
a rapid territorial expansion, and over more than half 
the country the expression " new land " must be taken 
literally. It is only one generation since it was taken 
from the Indians. There can be no question here 
of tracing the history of the relations between the 
white population and the free Indians of the Chaco 
and the Pampa. The most formidable of these were, 
in the north, the Abipones and the Tobas. On the 
Pampa, the foes of the colonists were Indians of Arau- 
canian descent, Ranqueles, Pehuenches, etc., who 
came down from the mountains and took to horses. 
At the close of the eighteenth century the frontier 

' Diario de la expedicion de 1778 a las Salinas (Coll. de Angelis, iv.). 


of Buenos Aires was on the nearer side of the Salado, 
and was bordered on the south-east and north-west 
by the fortresses of Chascomus, Monte, Lobos, Navarro, 
Areco, Salto, Rojas, and MeHncue. The proposal of 
D'Azara to extend it as far as the Salado was not 
carried out, and it was not until 1828 that there was 
a fresh advance west ward. ^ 

The new frontier, which would not be altered until 
1875, passed by Veinte Cinco de Mayo and Blanca 
Grande, at the north-western extremity of the Sierra 
de Tandil. It included the entire region which lies 
between the Sierra de Tandil and the lower Salado, 
where the village of Tandil had been established in 
1823. In addition, a line of forts stretched from Blanca 
Grande in the south-west to Bahia Blanca. The 
expedition sent in search of a port south of the mouth 
of the Plata had not found any nearer site that was 
suitable. But Bahia Blanca was to remain an isolated 
advance post until 1880, sharply separated from both 
the colonized zone of the Pampas and the establish- 
ments on the Patagonian coast. 

While the cultivated area was thus growing toward 
the south, it was being reduced in the north of the 
province of Buenos Aires and the south of Cordoba. 
The lands of the lower Rio Cuarto were not occupied. 
About i860 (Martin de Moussy) the farthest establish- 
ments in this sector were S. Jose de la Esquina and 
Saladillo on the Tercero. The road to Chile by the 
Rio Cuarto, Achiras, and San Luis was threatened. 
The advance of colonization in this zone was at first 
in the west to Villa Mercedes on the Rio Quinto. The 

I F. de Azara, Diario de itn reconocimiento de las guardias y fovtines 
que guarnecen la linea frontera de Republica Argentina (1796, Coll. 
de Angelis, vol. vi.). The documents collected by de Angelis show 
clearly that there had been some idea in the middle of the eighteenth 
century of occupying the whole plain to the east of the Sierra de 
Tandil. These ideas of expansion, of which D'Azara's plan is another 
instance, were interrupted by the Revolution {Diario de D. Pedro 
Pablo Pabon, Coll. de Angelis, iv. etc.). 


line of the Rio Cuarto by Carlota was reoccupied, and 
before 1875 the frontier had been pushed back to the 
Rio Quinto, where it joined the forts of southern 
Buenos Aires by way of Sarmiento, Gainza, and 

At last, in 1878, General Roca abandoned the classical 
methods of fighting the Indians, and took the offensive. 
He deprived the Indians of their refuges to the south 
of San Luis and the Central Pampa, and threw them 
back toward the desert. The Argentine troops followed 
in their steps as far as the Andes and the Rio Negro, 
There are to-day few traces in the immense terri- 
tory that was won of the indigenous population. 
Its extreme mobility had masked its numerical 

The history of the northern frontier is much the 
same. At the end of the eighteenth century the 
Spanish outposts ran along the course of the Salado. 
To the north of Santa Fe, at Sunchales, Soledad, and 
San Javier, they protected the direct route from Santa 
Fe to Santiago del Estero. These outposts were aban- 
doned during the revolutionary period, and the Indians 
advanced as far as the suburbs of Santa Fe. The 
roads both to Santiago and, by the Quebracho 
Herrado, to Cordoba were cut.- Urquiza reorganized 
the Santa Fe frontier, first as far as San Javier, then 
below 29° S. lat. between Arroyo del Rey on the Parana 
and Tostado on the Salado. The expedition of 1884 
brought the Argentine army as far as the Bermejo, 
and broke the resistance of the Tobas. The forts which, 
more to the north, guarded the province of Salta, 

' M. J. Olascoaga gives {La conquete de la Pampa Receuil de 
documents relatifs d, la campagne du Rio Negro, Buenos Aires, 1881) 
valuable documents concerning both the details of the fight with 
the Indians and the distribution of their invernadas (common lands) 
in the region of the Pampas. Olascoaga translates it " winter quar- 
ters " ; it was pasturage on which they kept their cattle and from 
which they set out on their expeditions. 

» See Thomas J. Hutchinson, Buenos Aires and Argentine Gleanings, 


on the further side of the Sierras de la Lumbrera and 
Santa Barbara, had been dismantled at the beginning 
of the nineteenth century, as the tribes in this part 
of the Chaco were not hostile. 'f 

The memory of the fights with the Indians is so 
completely blotted out to-day, and the menace of 
invasion by the tribes has been so rapidly extinguished, 
that it is difficult to realize fully the profound influence 
they once had on colonization. The line of forts 
was a frail barrier that was constantly broken through. 
The Indians of the Pampa stole cattle from the ranches 
of Buenos Aires, and sold them in Chile. Colonel 
Garcia calculates in 1816 that about 40,000 animals 
were stolen every year.^ Colonel Roca gives the same 
figure in 1876. The Pampa put no natural difficulties 
in the way of the movements of the Indians, no points 
which might serve as bases for the frontier. D. 
Pedro Pablo Pabon points out that the proximity of 
the Sierra, instead of giving protection to outposts 
in the Tandil region, would be an additional source 
of insecurity, as it increased the difiiculty of keeping 
watch. In the north the Indian incursions followed 
the clearings in the scrub, avoiding the dense and 
impenetrable parts. The lagoon of Mar Chiquita, to 
the west of Santa Fe, was a valuable rampart, in the 
shelter of which a fairly large population had estab- 
lished itself round Concepcion del Tio. 

The enlargements of the frontier were sometimes 
due to expansive movements of colonization, the 
breeders occupying new land beyond the line of forts 
and demanding protection, and sometimes to the arbi- 
trary action of a Government which was eager to 
extend its territory, though it was still without the 
means of exploiting it. Roca has well shown the 

' See Geronimo de la Serna, " Expedicion militar al Chaco," Bol. I, 
Geog. Argentina, xv. 1894, pp. 115-79. 

Nuevo plan de fronteras de la provincia de la Republica Argentina 
(Coll. de Angelis, vol. vi). 


defects of this system of premature military occupa- 
tion. "To go far away from the populated districts 
in acquiring new territory is, in my opinion, only 
an aggravation of the inconveniences of defensive 
war, and it places a desert between the new lines and 
the settled regions. . . . Invasions occur at once."^ 
We should therefore be likely to make serious mistakes 
if we were to identify the history of colonization with 
that of military occupation. Moreover, the garrisons 
of the forts did not take a very active part in the exploita- 
tion of the soil. The plan which D'Azara proposed, 
of making blandengues (lancers) colonists and rooting 
them to the soil by distributing it amongst them, 
seems to have been purely Utopian. His description 
of the frontier shows clearly how slight a hold the 
early colonization had on the Pampa, where the only 
relatively industrious element was represented by 
the groups of civilians (paisanos) who gathered about 
the works and moats of the forts. It was different 
on the Santiago del Estero frontier, where there was 
agriculture as well as breeding. Here the fort was 
identical with the village, and each soldier had his 
plot of wheat, maize, or water-melons. 2 

The provinces which were to combine in forming 
the Argentine Republic had no economic unity. They 
were really two countries, two separate worlds, the 
coast regions and the mountain regions {de arriha), 
joined together, but not blended, by the main road 
from Buenos Aires to Peru, by way of Cordoba, 
Tucuman, and Salta. They represented two different 
branches of Spanish colonization. " Two human 
streams," says Mitre, " contributed to the peopling 
of the vice-royalty. , . . The first came directly from 
Spain, the mother countr3^ It occupied and peopled 

' Letter to the Minister of War, October 19, 1875. 

» See the curious picture, which Hutchinson gives us, of miUtary 
life on the Rio Salado de Santiago about the middle of the nineteenth 


Mountainous regions 
' Jimifs offhe Prairie 
Scaie . 

O 60 00 160 200 km. 


The map shows the distribution of the natural regions — the dry Andes in the north-west, with 
irrigated cultivation; the monte, or brush, which is still used for extensive breeding; and 
the Pampa, with its great areas of cereals and lucerne. The line marking the frontier of 1875 
shows the speed at which colonization has developed in the Western half of the plain of the 
Pampas. The only regions not given on the map are the plateau of Misiones, with its tropical 
forests, and the wet Andes of Patagonia. 

To face p. zS. 


the banks in the basin of the Rio de la Plata, in the 
name of the right of discovery and conquest, and 
fertilized them by its labour. The other stream came 
from the ancient empire of the Incas, already sub- 
dued by the Spanish armies. This spread toward 
the interior of the country as it passed from the 
Pacific to the Atlantic, occupied the land in virtue of 
the same rights, and exploited it by means of a feudal 
system. , . . The same year, 1535, saw the foundation 
of the two towns, Buenos Aires and Lima, and was 
the centre of these two cycles of discoveries and con- 
quests. Thirty-eight years later, in the same year, 
1573, the Conquistadores who came from Peru founded 
the town of Cordoba, two hundred miles away from the 
Parana, while those who came from the Rio de la Plata 
founded the town of Santa Fe on the banks of that 

Tucuman and Salta were established by conquerors 
from Peru, while San Juan and Mendoza were built 
by the Chilean Spaniards. The line of demarcation 
between the two zones of colonization crosses the 
immense desert plains of the interior, not the elevated 
tablelands of the Andes. 

The two types of Argentinians differed in every 
respect, in blood as well as in environment. The 
indigenous race, which was eliminated on the coast, 
mingled intimately with the conquering race in the 

The establishments on the Rio de la Plata had 
originally been merely stages on the road to Peru, 
and had no value of themselves. The elevated table- 
lands of the Andes long remained the economic centre 
of Spanish America, and the provinces of the interior, 
which sold them cattle and mules, depended very 
closely upon them. The end of the eighteenth century 
was marked by more rapid progress in the region of 
the Pampas. The vice-royalty of La Plata was created. 

» Mitre, Hisioria de Belgrano, I, ch. i. pp. 4 and 5. 


Freedom of trade was secured between Buenos Aires 
and the Spanish ports. The export of hides increased. 
The influence of Buenos Aires spread over the interior 
and, in spite of the Cordoba tariff, reached the 
regions of the north-west. " The creation of the vice- 
royalty," says Dean Funes, " and the new direc- 
tion taken by commerce had the effect that Buenos 
Aires became the centre of considerable and important 

This commercial development, which seemed destined 
to bring closer together the two halves of Argentinian 
territory, was interrupted in the first half of the nine- 
teenth century. This did not, however, break the 
connections between the provinces to the north-west 
of the tableland and those on the Pacific slope, and 
indeed, they became more varied and more binding. 
Packs of mules, carrying the ore of San Juan and La 
Rioja to the foundries of the Chilean side, added 
life to the Cordillera. When Chile, transformed into 
an agricultural country, could not meet its own 
demand for cattle, the oases of the Argentine side were 
sown with lucerne for fattening the cattle which were 
to cross the mountains. The provinces of Mendoza, 
San Juan, La Rioja, Catamarca, Tucuman, and Salta 
were held within the orbit of the Andes districts.^ 
There are historical reasons for this set-back to the 
influence of Buenos Aires. The wars of the revolu- 
tionary period and the conflicts between the Buenos 
Aires Government and the maritime powers checked 
the commercial enterprise on the banks of the Plata. 
This political isolation of the province of Buenos 
Aires, under the Rosas Government, lasted until 1853. 
Poncel gives us statistics of the imports of Catamarca 

• D. Gregorio Funes, Ensayo de la historia civil del Paraguay, Buenos 
Aires, y Tucuman (Buenos Aires, 3 vols., 1816). 

» The Woodbine Parish map (1839) puts Tinogasta eighty miles 
out of its proper position, at the very foot of the Come Caballos range, 
thus reducing by one half its distance from Copiapo, on the Chilean 


which show the great importance of this date in the 
history of Argentine commerce : 

oports into the Province of Cata- 






marca : 

From the Pacific across the Cor- 

dillera (in millions of piastres) 
From the Atlantic (Buenos Aires 






or Rosario) 






In 1854-5 the Cordillera route definitely ceased to 
be of commercial importance to Catamarca, and it 
was afterwards used merely for the export of cattle. 

But the attraction of Buenos Aires after 1853 was 
not merely due to its commercial life and its inter- 
mediate position between the provinces of the interior 
and Europe. It was chiefly based upon the economic 
development of the region of the Pampas, which 
began about this date, and altered the balance between 
the two halves of Argentina. The exploitation of the 
Pampa, the improvement in breeding methods, and 
the introduction and expansion of agriculture on the 
plain of the Pampa, which fill all publications on 
modern Argentina, are in themselves one of the great 
events in the economic history of the nineteenth 
century. They had also an indirect but profound 
influence upon the life of other parts of Argentina. 
The consuming capacity of the Pampa increased 
simultaneously with its wealth and population. 
It absorbed the products of the neighbouring provinces 
and in turn made customers of them, distributing 
amongst them, according to the services they rendered, 
part of the gold it obtained from beyond the Atlantic. 
One after the other the provinces lost the relations 
which had hitherto connected them with foreign lands. 
There was the same development all over the zone 
of cereals and lucerne — the direction of the stream of 
commerce was reversed. In some places, as at 

* B. Poncel, Mes itiniraires dans les Provinces du Rio de la Plata, 
Province de Catamarca (Paris, 1864). 


Tucuman and Mendoza the change was accompUshed 
a generation ago. In other places, as at Salta and San 
Juan, it is still going on. In yet other places, the more 
remote valleys, hke Jachal and Santa Maria, it will 
occur in the near future. By a singular anomaly 
the Far West of North America, which sprang up half 
a century ago, tends to withdraw more and more from 
the influence of the eastern States, which provided 
it with capital and immigrants, while the Far West 
of Argentina, which is just as old as the east and by 
no means a creation of the east, since it developed 
in isolation and freedom, and was already adult and 
rich when they came into contact, has nevertheless 
fallen into complete dependence upon the east in the 
course of a few years. 

The life of the whole country depended upon the 
great colonization movement which transformed the 
plain of the Pampas. This brought about an economic 
unity which was at once reflected in the political world. 
The railway from Buenos Aires reached Tucuman 
before 1880 ; Mendoza, San Juan, Salta, and Catamarca 
before 1890 ; and La Rioja before 1900. The establish- 
ment of closer economic relations between the coast 
and the provinces of the interior has nearly always 
inaugurated a period of great prosperity for the latter. 
In every case the influence of Buenos Aires vitalized 
them, put an end to their slumbers, and made them 

Not only did the coast take for itself the products 
of the western provinces, which had hitherto found 
their way to other markets, but new centres of production 
had to be created to meet its needs. The forests of 
the Chaco received a great influx of wood-cutters, to 
provide the sleepers for the railways. The valley of 
the Rio Negro was planted with vines, to provide the 
wines of the colonies in the district of Bahia Blanca. 
The attraction of the Pampa was felt as far as 
the frontiers. Paraguay competed with Corrientes in 


the supply of tobacco and oranges ; with Misiones in 
the supply of yerha mate. Each district chose the 
particular crop which was best suited to its climate, 
in order to secure the highest possible advantage 
from its relations with Buenos Aires. 

The two most brilliant satellites of the Pampa, the 
most important productive centres of the interior, 
are Tucuman and Mendoza, All the other important 
towns of Argentina belong themselves to the region 
of the Pampas. Tucuman and Mendoza, which live 
by supplying the Pampa with sugar and wine, have 
become in turn secondary centres of attraction. They 
are a sort of regional capitals, and they have their 
own spheres of economic influence. A network of 
commercial streams has developed about them, and 
this has led to the formation of new roads. These 
lines of local interest are easily recognized on a map 
of the railways, where one sees them superimposed 
upon the regular fan of lines which converges toward 
Buenos Aires. La Rioja provides the props for the 
vines of San Juan and Mendoza. From the north of 
Cordoba to Salta, a distance of about 250 miles, the wood 
is cut for the fuel of the sugar-works of Tucuman. 
Santiago dries the fodder for its troops of mules. The 
prairies of Catamarca, which once fattened the cattle 
that were intended for Chile, and often came even from 
Tucuman, now sell their beasts to the butchers of 
Tucumdn. The wines of San Juan find their best 
customers at Tucuman. Even the nearest portions 
of the plain of the Pampas, to the north-east of Santa 
Fe and the south of San Luis, supply maize and wheat 
to Tucuman and Mendoza, instead of sending them to 
the ports for export. 

While Argentina lives on the Pampa, the Pampa 
lives on export. It has been developed through the 
inflow of European immigrants, and Europe pays by 
sending its manufactured products and capital. 
Except as regards emigration, the United States had, 



before the war, much the same relation to Argentina 
as the countries of Western Europe. Thus the economic 
prosperity of the Repubhc binds it more and more 
closely to the life of the whole world. Its position 
in the temperate zone of South America had retarded 
its entrance into world-commerce, and this explains 
the slowness with which its colonization proceeded at 
first. Its climate and products were too similar to 
those of Spain. Not only the mining and metallurgical 
centres of the Andes and of Mantiqueria, but even 
the sugar and cotton regions of Brazil, the Antilles, 
and the Guianas, were developed before the plains 
of the Pampas. 

The turn of the Argentine Republic did not come 
until the growth of population in the industrial countries 
of Europe made them dependent upon foreign lands 
for their food, and until the application of steam to 
ships made it possible to export wool, meat, and 
cereals on a large scale. 

When we compare the economic organization of 
Argentina with that of the United States, we see that 
it is both less complex and less capable of being self- 
contained. The difference is due to the architecture 
of the country. I said at the beginning of this chapter 
that Argentina has no equivalent for the zone of the 
Atlantic tablelands, which is now the great industrial 
region of North America. The industrial prosperity 
of eastern North America provides a safe home market 
for the farmers of the west, and relieves them of the 
need of exporting their produce. Moreover, the Atlantic 
tablelands, the original centres of population, where 
the first generations of colonists lived on land that 
was often poor, have seen the gradual formation of 
reserves of labour and capital which were afterwards 
used in colonizing the west. The east sifted, in a 
sense controlled, the influence of modern Europe in 
the colonization of the United States. It classified and 
assimilated the new emigrants who set out for the west. 


mingled with the troops of native pioneers on their 
way to the prairies. In the same way, when European 
capital flowed into the United States, it found in the 
eastern cities a large treasury and a body of financiers 
in whose hands it had to remain. 

In Argentina, on the contrary, everything speaks 
of the close and direct dependence of the country 
upon oversea markets. The soil itself bears the marks 
of this solidarity. It is seen in the network of the 
railways, the concentration of the urban population 
in the ports, and the distribution of the cultivated 
districts in concentric circles which are often limited, 
not by a physical obstacle, but by the cost of freightage 
between the productive centre and the port. Thus 
we get a geographical expression of facts which seem 
at first sight to belong to the purely economic or 
sociological order. 



The inhabited zones of the Andes in the north-west — Valles, Que- 
bradas, Puna — The irrigation of the valles — The historic routes — 
Convoys of stock — The breeding of mules and the fairs — The 
struggle of the breeders against drought — The Sierra de los 

The whole life and wealth of the arid provinces of 
north-western Argentina depend upon irrigation ; the 
water-supply definitively settles the sites of human 
establishments. The water resources are irregularly 
distributed. They are especially abundant in the 
south (San Juan, Mendoza, and San Rafael), where 
the torrents of the Cordillera are fed by the glaciers, 
and on the outer fringe of the hills above the Chaco, 
at the foot of Aconcagua, which gathers masses of 
cloud and rain on its flanks (Tucuman). In the inter- 
mediate district, on the contrary, in the regions of 
La Rioja and Catamarca, and in the interior of the 
hilly zone to the north-west of Tucuman, the amount 
of available water is small ; the oases shrink into small 
spots far removed from each other. 

This natural inequality was not felt at first. For a 
long time the spread of cultivation and the progress of 
wealth were restricted only by the scarcity of popula- 
tion, the difficulties of transport, and the inadequacy 
of the markets. The best endowed oases paid no 
attention to the surplus supply of water, for which 
they had no use. We have to come down to the close 



of the nineteenth century to find men reaching the 
limits which nature has set to colonization, and mapping 
out their domain. It is not until then that La Rioja 
ceases to compete with Mendoza, or Catamarca with 
Tucuman. While large industrial enterprises develop 
at Mendoza and Tucuman, strong centres of urban 
life arise, the population increases, and immigrants 
stream in, the oases of the interior scarcely change. 
Their population does not keep its level. Life has an 
archaic character that one finds nowhere else in 
Argentina. The physical conditions have retarded, 
one would almost say crystallized, the economic develop- 
ment. The living generation exploits the soil in ways 
that to some extent go back as far as the indigenous 
tribes, the masters of their Spanish conquerors in the 
art of irrigation. The industry of fattening and con- 
voying cattle, which was once the chief source of 
wealth of the whole country, is still alive in those 

The zone of the elevated tablelands of the Andes 
without drainage toward the sea — the Puna — has still, 
below 22° S. latitude on the northern frontier of 
Argentina, a width of about 250 miles. This breadth 
steadily contracts southward as far as 28° S. latitude, 
where the Puna ends about the level of the road from 
Tinogasta to Copiapo. 

To the east and south of the Puna the Argentine 
Andes are cut from north to south by a series of long 
gullies and large basins, between which there are lofty 
and massive chains with steep flanks. Some of these lie 
in the heart of the mountains, while others often open 
like gulfs upon the edge of the plain. These depressions 
with rectilinear contours are a common feature of the 
topography of the Andes in this latitude. The central 
plain of Chile is closely related to them. In the 
Argentine speech they are called valles : Valle de 
Lerma, Valle Calchaqui, Valle de Iglesias, de Calingasta, 
d'Uspallata. They are, however, not " valleys " in 


the sense of hollows made by erosion by running water. 
They owe their formation to tectonic movements, 
subsidences of the surface. The scanty rivers of the 
arid Anacs are not capable of doing work of that kind. 
When they enter the already formed bed of a valle, 
they seem to be lost in the immense space. Often 
they dry up in it, leaving behind the sediment and salts 
with which the water was laden. In other places they 
cut at right angles across the valle, escaping by narrow 
breaches in it, while the depression continues its course 
on either side, taking in sections of a number of in- 
dependent streams. 

Opposed to the valle is the eroded ravine, carved 
out by water, the quehrada. It opens upon a valle 
with a V-shaped mouth, which widens out at the top, 
and one can recognise at sight the various slopes and 
the successive stages of erosion. Narrow and winding, 
a level bed of shingle filling the entire base of the valley, 
it rises rapidly toward the mountains and provides a 
route from the valle to the puna. These valles, quebradas 
and ptina are the three inhabited zones of the Andes, 
The first is the richest. The inhabitant of the valle, 
proud of his comparative comfort, has for his neighbour 
in the quehrada or the puna — the coyada — a contempt 
such as one finds the inhabitants of the good land in 
Europe feeling for the people in poorer districts. 

The narrower the valle, the less rain there is. The 
observations give 112 millimetres of rain per year at 
Tinogasta, 290 at Andalgala, and 200 at Santa Maria. 
Salta and Jujuy have a much moister cHmate, and 
have no less than 570 and 740 milHmetres of rain 
annually. This is because the eastern chain of the 
Andes, which stretches from the Sierra de Santa Victoria 
on the Bolivian frontier to Aconcagua, sinks lower 
at the latitude of Salta, and lets in the moisture of the 
Chaco to the heart of the zone of the Andes. The 
rains of Salta and Jujuy are suspended during the winter, 
but they are so heavy during the summer months 


(November to March) that maize, which needs only the 
Slimmer rain, can be cultivated without irrigation. 
But when we follow the Valle de Lerma southward 
from Salta the maize harvest becomes more and more 
uncertain, and it is no longer sown in dry soil when we 
get to about twenty miles from Salta, in the latitude of 
the confluence of the Arias and the Juramento, How- 
ever, the summer rains, which are good for maize, 
are very injurious to the vine ; they spoil the grapes. 
Thus the southern limit of the cultivation of maize in 
dry soil almost coincides with the northern limit of 
the vine. At that point we have the real beginning of 
the typical scenery of the valles. 

The need of irrigation is due to the scarcity of rain, 
but it is accentuated by a number of causes which 
tend to increase the aridity. The valles are the scene 
of scorching day-winds, the zonda, like the Fohn of the 
Swiss Alps, which, there being no snow, dry up the 
water of the springs and of the irrigation trenches, 
or use the deposits left by the waters to form dunes, 
which they push southward, sometimes like veritable 
glaciers of sand. Moreover, the soil of the valles is 
generally composed of coarse and permeable alluvial 
deposits, which absorb the rain-storms immediately. 
There is at the foot of both sides of the hills which 
enclose each valle an immense and far-lying bed of 
imperfectly rounded shingle. This double zone of 
detritus is strangely desolate, for the vegetation on 
it is restricted to isolated bushes of jarilla and tola. 
From the sheepfolds on the mountains to the oases 
in the valleys one hardly meets a single house. The 
bed of the valley is not so desolate. A broad ribbon 
of sand marks the dry bed of a torrent, and on the 
clays of its banks, if the sheet of water underground 
is not too deep, one finds, in spite of the goats and 
asses and charcoal-burners, little forests of algarrohas, 
which the foundries use for fuel. 

The modern alluvial beds, gravel and sand, represent 


the upper stratum of a considerable series of continental 
deposits which lie on the Paleozoic crystalline rock of 
the Andes. I They chiefly consist of red sandstone and 
coloured marls, which crop up here and there through 
the alluvial covering and give the landscape a rugged 
character, worn by water and wind. There is no trace 
of humus : nothing to soften the vivid colours of the 
rock. Bodenbender, to whom we owe the first general 
attempt to classify the series, points out the import- 
ance of distinguishing the different strata in connection 
with the question of water supply and the conditions 
of human life. 2 A complete geographical study would 
have to follow the geological description in detail. 
In places — on the eastern edge of the Sierra de los 
Llanos — the fine modern clays are in contact with 
the granites of the hills and form above them a thick 
bed that is rich in fresh water. In other places — south- 
westward of the Sierra de la Famatina, as far as the 
Bermejo — the outcrop is of red sandstone only. The 
tablelands of Talampaya and Ischigualasta, which are 
cut across by the gorges of the tributaries of the 
Bermejo, form one of the most conspicuously desert 
regions in the whole Republic. Wherever the gypsif erous 
marls of the Calchaqui are near the surface, the springs 
are saline. The undulations of the impermeable rocky 
substratum bring to light the water that gathers in 
the alluvial beds. Thus the streams which come down 
the Famatina range in the west disappear in the alluvial 
beds on the fringe of the Sierra, but re-appear presently 
in the oasis of Pagancillo. 

J This series, stretching from the Permian to the Tertiary, also 
includes, especially in the region of the sub-Andean chains, on the 
fringe of the Chaco, a number of marine strata (see Bonarelli, Las 
sierras suhandinas del Alto y Agnaragiie y los yacimientos petroliferos 
del distrito minero de Tartagal (" Ann. Min. Agric," Seccion Geologia, 
Mineralogia, y Mineria, viii. No. 4 : Buenos Aires, 1913). 

» G. Bodenbender, Parte meridional de la Provincia de la Rioja y 
regiones limitrofes (Ann. Min. Agric, Seccion Geol., Minerol., y Mineria, 
vii. No. 3 : Buenos Aires, 191 2), 


Hence the valles are by no means wholly productive. 
The oases represent only a limited portion of them. 
It would be impossible to imagine a more striking 
contrast than that of the freshness and life of the oases 
compared with the surrounding desert. Screens of 
poplars shelter them from the zonda. The water runs 
along trenches paved with round pebbles under the 
spreading vines, at the foot of which, to economize 
water and space, lucerne is sown. Each garden feeds 
a family. Near the raw-brick houses there are large 
earthenware vessels, as tall as a man, in which the 
corn is kept. The hammering of the cooper fills the 

In places the oasis is watered by a stream. In those 
cases there is on each side of the bed of the stream a 
narrow fringe, a continuous ribbon, of smiling gardens, 
which hide the path. Above and below Santa Maria 
a trench is opened every mile in the wet sands of the 
Rio. The water rises in it and fills it, and is directed 
by it toward one of the banks, where it is jealously 
collected and distributed. The water which flows from 
the irrigated fields and returns to the river, as well as 
that which the porous side of the trench has permitted 
to escape, goes to fill another trench and supply other 
fields farther on. The region of Los Sauces, in the 
northern part of the province of La Rioja, to the south 
of Tinogasta, shows a different type of irrigated cultiva- 
tion, on account of the sandy course of the stream. 
The fields follow the feeding artery for about fifty 
miles. It is bled at the beginning of each bend, the 
waters remaining underground like hidden wealth. 

In most cases however, the valle has no running 
water. What reaches it from the lateral quehradas is 
lost in the alluvial beds accumulated at the point 
where the quebrada enters the valle. In order to make 
use of it the cultivated areas are grouped on the cone of 
deposition ; at least, that is the position in the great 
majority of the oases. A cosfa is a line of separate 


oases with their backs to the same slope. When the 
valh is narrow, the costas on either side of the sterile 
depression face each other, like two parallel roads. The 
water of the quehrada is never sufficiently abundant to 
irrigate the whole of the cone of the torrent. In order 
to create an oasis there, they have selected the most 
easily cultivable zone, which is usually the foot of 
the cone, where the deposits are finer and more fertile, 
retain the moisture better, and require less watering. 
The summit of the cone is composed of coarse stones, 
the first to be dropped by the torrent as it loses its 
strength. These are bad lands, where the water is 

To meet the occasional drought and the danger of 
sudden floods in this fluvial zone, which is entirely the 
domain of the torrent, there is need of constant care 
and ingenuity. At Colalao del Valle the cultivated 
fields are five or six miles from the summit of the cone. 
After a number of successive years of drought the 
stream of water which reached them on the flanks 
of the cone lost half its volume and threatened to dis- 
appear altogether. They then built a stone dam at 
the outlet of the quehrada, and the water accumulates 
behind this during the night. At three o'clock in the 
morning the sluices are opened, and the stream, having 
thus nursed its strength, reaches the fields down below 
about seven o'clock. Then the sun and the wind rise, 
just at the time when the reservoir is empty, and by 
the middle of the day the stream ceases, and irrigation 
is suspended. At Andalgala, above which rises the 
glittering crest of Aconcagua, the waters of the melting 
snows which feed the torrent have not time to be 
" decanted " before they reach the valley. They come 
down laden with mud and sand. Above the points 
where the irrigation-channels begin the people make, 
in the bed of the torrent, a dam of branches of trees 
which filters the water. It is swept away by every 
flood that occurs, and is at once restored. 


What is even more admirable than the ingenuity of 
the vallista in utiHzing the natural resources is the 
minute detail of the water-rights. It seems as if the 
vallista is even more cunning in protecting himself 
from his neighbour than in deahng with nature. The 
water-customs of these Andean valleys are worth an 
extensive study. The water does not belong to the 
State, and is not used by concession from the State. 
It is private property. The owner uses or abuses it 
as he pleases on the lands wliich he has selected. A 
man may be poor in land and rich in water, which he 
accordingly sells. There are frequent business deals in 
regard to water-rights, just as in regard to the soil 
and its produce. Appropriation of water often pre- 
cedes appropriation of the soil. Many oases are 
communities where the non-irrigated lands are common 
to the whole population, and the irrigated fields alone 
are divided. 

A primary group of customs regulates the relations to 
each other of communities higher up and lower down 
the same stream. At Catamarca the water of a certain 
stream is shared by Piedra Blanca and Valle Viejo. 
Piedra Blanca, in the upper part, absorbs the whole of 
the water for a week, but it must then suspend its 
irrigation during the following week and permit the 
stream to flow down the valley. The same evening, 
or the next morning, according to the season, the 
water reaches Valle Viejo. It is a custom known as 
the quiebras in the southern valleys of the desert side of 
Peru, where it allows different stages of cultivation 
to proceed simultaneously. In the same way, above 
Santa Maria, where several communities (S. Jose, Loro 
Huasi, etc.) receive the water brought by a channel 
from the Rio Santa Maria, each of them has a right 
to the full output of the channel for three days. At 
the end of that time the sluices are closed, and the 
water passes to the next community. There is grave 
trouble for any oasis that has its rights infringed or 


does not compel the communities higher up to respect 

Amongst individuals the water-right is generally 
defined by a measurement of time, a certain number 
of days or hours — during which the owner controls 
the entire flow of the spring or stream. It is only 
when the water is more abundant that we find another 
method of fixing the right of water, defining it by 
bulk. The water is then said to be demarcada, as the 
unit is customarily the marco, or the volume which 
passes through an opening about twenty-one centi- 
metres in width and eight in height. The marco has 
infinite divisions, and each subdivision has its own 
name — the naranja, the homhilla, the paja, and so on. 

As all the water is utihzed, and the rights of all are 
equally entitled to respect, the division of the water 
into marcos [demarcacion] is in practice merely a pro- 
portional distribution of it amongst those who have 
rights to it. If the sum total of rights expressed in 
marcos represents something like the total flow of a 
stream during an average season, in the time of low 
water it is disproportionate, and the water no longer 
flows to the tops of the marcos. In other words, the 
quantity of water granted to each rises or falls with the 
rise or fall of the stream itself. 

Theoretically, when the water-right is defined in 
marcos it is permanent. Often, however, it is impossible 
to grant each proprietor a permanent title to the water. 
Even in oases where the water is "demarked," the 
turno — that is to say, the turn of the proprietors to 
have water — which is the absolute rule in the poorest 
oases, reappears during the months of scarcity, in 
winter, when there is no rain, and at the beginning of 
summer. It reappears also when the right of owner- 
ship has been broken up into fractions that are too 
small, and it is better to grant a larger volume of water 
for several hours instead of a constant stream of water 
which would be too scanty for profitable use. At 


Andalgala the " turn " is sometimes obligatory, and 
regulated by custom, in channels where the irrigating 
proprietors are too numerous ; at other times optional, 
and settled by convention amongst the owners them- 
selves, when water is scanty. At Valle Viejo (Cata- 
marca), when the water runs low, they set up the mita ; 
that is to say, the sluices remain closed in each channel 
during four days out of eight, each proprietor in turn 
giving up his right to a permanent supply in order 
to have a double allowance when his turn comes. 
The turno is, therefore, a general practice. Everywhere 
we can see the farmers on the watch along the acequias, 
waiting for the moment to close their neighbour's trench 
with a pellet of clay and to let the stream into their 
own trenches with a blow of the spade. 

The most minute precautions are taken in order that 
no one shall suffer injury. As the irrigation is always 
slower and less thorough during the night, they take 
it in turns to have the day and the night alternately. 
When the community receives the water from another 
community higher up the stream, the succession of 
" turns " amongst its members differs every time. The 
water comes down charged with sediment, pushing in 
front of it a mass of liquid mud, as the flush of a torrent 
does. It takes some time for the stream to become 
regular and clear. The first irrigator therefore exercises 
his right under unfavourable conditions. In the local 
phraseology the volcada de agua is not as good as the 
corte de agua, which means the irrigation that begins 
when the acequia is full. 

Irrigation entails the services of quite a staff of 
arbitrators and administrators. The head men, who 
have jurisdiction of a higher order and secure the 
accurate distribution of the water amongst a number 
of channels or communities, are now, as a rule, officials 
of the administration, appointed by the provincial 
authorities (Juez de Irrigacion at Catamarca, juez de rio 
at Rosario de Lerma). But the juez de agua of each 


community or each channel is a syndic elected by the 
interested parties. At Santa Maria the juez de agua is 
elected by the owners and confirmed by the Government. 
He controls irrigation throughout the department, 
settling all differences, submitting plans of work to a 
meeting of the owners, and assigning their respective 
charges in labour and contributions according to their 

This land of customs and traditions is also a land 
of lively movement. The briskness of the traffic is 
primarily due to continuous exchange between the 
various zones of the mountainous district. This large 
trade, so scattered that the railways could not dream of 
satisfying its needs, is carried, in the old fashion, on 
the backs of mules. The lively aspect of the roads 
between the tableland and the lower valleys of the 
region, the brisk interchange of goods between zones 
with different climates, is one of the common features 
of life on the Andes, 

But the classic spectacle presents a different aspect 
in different latitudes. In Peru, and in southern Bolivia, 
the higher valleys — Jauja, Cuzco, the Pampas of 
Cochabamba and Sucre — have centres of dense popu- 
lation and agricultural wealth at a height of between 
9,000 and ii,ooo feet. They raise cereals, and receive 
from the tropical districts {mojttahas and yungas) sugar, 
cane-brandy, cocoa, and coca-leaf. The valleys of 
the Argentine Andes are usually at a less elevation 
than the yimgas and montanas of Bolivia and Peru. 
But they are not hot districts, and have not tropical 
vegetation. Frost prevents the harvesting of sugar- 
cane at Salta, at a height of 4,000 feet. As to the coca- 
leaf, which is not as much used here as in the north, 
the Argentine valles do not send it to the tableland, 
but receive it indirectly from there, through the southern 
yungas. In default of tropical crops, the Argentine 
valles sow wheat and maize, which they sell to the 


Indians of the cold districts of the Puna for wool and 

These commercial currents are of very ancient, 
probably pre-Columbian origin. Boman has discovered 
ears of maize in the prehistoric tombs of the Puna de 
Atacama.i The Puna, at a height of ii,ooo to 12,000 
feet, is permanently inhabited, unlike the high valleys 
of the Cordillera de San Juan, which are occupied only 
during the summer season by Chilean shepherds. It 
is primarily a pastoral and mining region, but it has 
some tilled land, at more than 6,700 feet above the 
level of the valleys. The liigher limit of annual cultiva- 
tion in the cold districts, which is fixed by the summer 
temperature, does not fall in the same way as that of 
arboriculture in warm districts, because trees suffer 
from the winter frosts. The Indians of Cochinoca and 
Susques sow lucerne and barley for fodder, and the 
quinoa and potato for food. Transport between the 
Puna and the valles is carried on by the inhabitants of 
the Puna, and is not shared by the vallistas. They are 
especially active in the north, in the province of Jujuy. 
Belmar shows how important the sales of the Puna 
woollen goods were by the middle of the nineteenth 
century.2 These fabrics were used by the mill-owners 
of the Rio Grande de Jujuy to pay for the work of the 
Indians of the Chaco, whom they employed in the 
sugar-cane harvest. The competition of the manu- 
factured products of Europe now menaces the domestic 
weaving of the Puna, just as the competition of the 
flour of the Pampa menaces the cultivation of cereals 
in the valles. 

Besides this traffic of local interest the valles serve 
for a traffic of a higher, almost a continental character. 
It seems certain that during the pre-Spanish period 

' Eric Boman, Antiquites de la region andine de la Republique Argen- 
tine et de la Puna de Atacama : Mission scient. G. de Crequi-Montfort 
et E. Senechal de la Grange (Paris, vols. i. and ii. 1908). 

» Belmar, Les provinces dc la Federation argentine (Paris, 1856). 


the road from the Peruvian tablelands to Chile avoided 
the inhospitable desert of the Puna de Atacama, entered 
the region of the valles to the east, and crossed the 
Cordillera in the latitude of Tinogasta, or even a little 
further south. That was the route of the armies of the 
Incas, which in the fourteenth century came as far as 
Maule. The pre-Columbian roads, of which Boman 
has found traces between the Valle de Lerma and the 
Valle Calchaqui, seem to correspond with this direction 
of traffic. By this route the long quechua passed 
amongst the Diaguites populations. The conquerors 
followed the Indian guides, Almagro, in going from 
Peru to Chile, passed through the valles at the eastern 
edge of the Andes. 

Later the valles were incorporated in the many 
variations of the historic high road, one of the first 
and busiest of Spanish America, which goes from the 
Rio de la Plata to Lima : a route both for armies and 
merchants. The plan proposed by Matienzo (1566) 
to make a road from the silver mines to the estuary 
of the Parana, through the Valle de Calchaqui, seems 
to have been intended merely to improve a line of 
communication that had already been in use, Buenos 
Aires for a long time received European goods by this 
road. About 1880 the Salta route recovered for a time 
its continental importance, during the Pacific War and 
the occupation by the Chileans of the maritime provinces 
of Boh via. I At that time it was the only outlet for 

But of all the forms of traffic that have enlivened 
the valles the most constant, and the form that has 
had the most profound influence on their existence, is 
the movement of cattle. The cattle trade has been of 
fundamental importance in the history of the colonization 
of South America, Animals were the only goods that 
could be conveyed any great distance. At the beginning 

I See Brackebusch, " Viaje a la provincia de Jujuy," Bol. Instit. 
Geog. Argent., iv. 1883, pp. g-i?- 



Descent of Tafi del Valle, going to Santa Maria. The ravine is excavated out of the mass 
of coarse aeposits which forms a hinge between tht mountain and the VcUey. Un thif pzrmeable 
soil the Vegetation is pariiculorly thir. Cactus. Photograph by the Author. 


Sierra de San Antonio {Salta province). Perennial foliage, creepers, ferns. 

Photograph by the Author, 

Plate I\'. 

To face p. 4^. 


of the conquest the productive regions of the continent, 
which suppHed the export trade with Europe, were very 
limited in extent. Pastoral colonization began at once, 
and spread over a very wide area. Herds of oxen, for 
meat or draught, horses, and mules, made their way 
toward the centres of consumption : towns like Lima, 
Bahia, and Rio, the Peruvian mines, and the sugar- 
refineries of the north-east of Brazil, and later toward 
the yerbales of Paraguay or the seaports of the Caribs 
and the Rio Grande do Sul, where the jerked meat 
industry developed. The cattle routes converge upon 
these centres. 

The export of cattle and mules from the Argentine 
plains to Peru was fully established by the close of the 
sixteenth century, and it seems to have continued 
without interruption ever since. Upper Peru is, how- 
ever, not the only market on which the Argentine 
breeders lived. At the end of the eighteenth century 
DAzara demanded that they should permit the sale of 
horses and mules to Brazil, for use in the mines. The 
cattle traffic with Portuguese territory had not then 
assumed the form of a regular commerce, and the 
Brazilians made raids on the north-eastern provinces 
for the animals they needed — 60,000 a year, DAzara 
says. I The export of cattle to Paraguay and Misiones 
was, on the other hand, of substantial economic import- 
ance in the eighteenth century. Before the Revolution, 
Rengger says, as many as 200,000 head of cattle passed 
yearly from Corrientes to Paraguay, which paid for 
them in mate and tobacco. 3 This trade was kept up 
intermittently in the nineteenth century. The exports 
from Corrientes were especially important at the time 
when the Paraguay stock was reconstituted after the 
war (40,000 head of cattle in 1875). 

1 Memorias sobre el estado rural del rio de la Plata en 1801, Escritos 
postumos de D. Felix de Azara, published by D. Augustin de Azara 
(Madrid, 1847). 

2 A. Rengger, Reise nach Paraguay in den Jahren 1818 bis 1826 
(Aarau, 1835). 



Finally, the Chilean market was opened to the 
Argentine breeders about the middle of the nineteenth 
century. In the time of Martin de Moussy the convoys 
of cattle to Chile were so numerous that the lucerne 
fields of both slopes were stripped bare at the very 
beginning of the season ; and they were rented at a 
high price. ^ Not only the mining provinces of the 
north, but central Chile also, bought Argentine cattle. 
The opening of the Chilean market was followed by a 
remarkable expansive movement in the pastoral 
colonization of Argentine territory. We can follow 
the progress of this not only in Martin de Moussy's 
book, but in all contemporary works of travel. Its 
chief theatres are the provinces of San Luis and of 
Santiago del Estero, north of the Rio Dulce, where 
Hutchinson, in particular, describes the activity of the 
ranches." Finally, after the Pacific War (1880) the 
nitrate district, taken from Bolivia and Peru by Chile, 
received a great influx of population, and works sprang 
up in the midst of the desert. The nitrate fields, 
wholly barren and doomed, under their shroud of grey 
dust, to an unalterable desolation, became at once one 
of the chief centres of consumption for Argentine stock. 

It is difficult to give accurate details of the volume 
of trade in cattle in colonial Argentine. However, 
the facts given by travellers (though they often merely 
borrow from each other) suffice to show how important 
this traffic was in the life of the country and the extent 
of the zone that was occupied with it. As early as 
the middle of the seventeenth century Cordoba seems 
to have exported to Peru as many as 28,000 to 30,000 

' The fattening of cattle for Chile was no longer done in the inver- 
nadas of Mendoza at the beginning of the nineteenth century. See 
an article on Mendoza in the Telegrafo Mercantil, Januarj' 31, 1802, 
which tells of the development of ranches on the Tunuyan. Mendoza 
and San Juan were their only markets, and they did not sell cattle 
to Chile. 

» T. J. Hutchinson, Buenos Aires y otras Provinctas argeniinas 
(translated by L. Varela, Buenos Aires, 1866). 


mules annually. I At the close of the eighteenth century, 
we read in D'Azara, 60,000 mules were exported ; and 
Helms gives the same figure. 3 The mules were bought 
young by Cordoba dealers at Buenos Aires, Santa Fe, 
and Corrientes, reared at Cordoba, and then sent to 
Salta, where they were sold in their third year to mule- 
dealers from Peru. 

An article in the Telegrafo Mercantil of September 9, 
1801 (reproduced in the Junta de Historia y Numismatica 
americana, Buenos Aires, 2 vols., 1914-5) contains 
very valuable information in regard to the mule trade. 
From 1760 to 1780 Salta sent between 40,000 and 50,000 
mules annually to Peru. At Salta they were worth 
ten piastres each before they were broken in, and thirteen 
or fourteen afterwards ; and they were sold at the age 
of four years. The arrieros, who conveyed European 
goods and home products {ropas y frutas), bought a 
large number of them. The Telegrafo complains that 
this trade has been gradually transformed. The mules 
now came from Santa Fe and Cordoba to Salta two 
years old, and after the invernada they were still, 
at fair time, barely three years old. They suffered 
much during the long journey to Lima, and the losses 
of the caravans were heavy. They could not be loaded 
for the journey, and, as the arrieros could no longer 
secure adult and strong animals, the freight to the 
tableland had risen, to the serious loss of merchants 
on the coast. The reply of a Potosi mule-dealer 
(December 13th) clearly shows that the last years of 
the eighteenth century had been marked by increasingly 
heavy demands from Peru for Argentine mules. In 
order to meet these demands the Cordoba breeders had 
developed production. The buyers, coming to Salta 
from Lima, Cuzco, and Arequipa, took, without dis- 

' Azcarate de Biscay, quoted in H. Gibson, La evolucion ganadera 
in Censo agropecuario nacional Buenos Aires, 1909, vol. iii. 

* A. Z. Helms, Voyage dans I'Amerique meridionale (Paris, 1812). 
The journey was in 1788. 


cussion or examination, the batches that were offered 
them. The correspondent of the Telegrafo complains 
bitterly of these cahalleritos who came from Peru with 
their 100,000 piastres, and raised the price at Salta, 
alleging that their instructions were to get mules at 
any cost. 

Robertson gave in 1813 the recollections of a mule- 
dealer as to the convoys of mules between Santa Fe 
and the Andes, which had already ceased at that time. 
Each convoy or arrco comprised 5,000 to 6,000 mules. 
They came from Entre Rios, or even from the Uruguay, 
whence they were brought, after crossing the Parana, 
to the Santa Fe ranches. The Santa Fe breeders owned 
the best part of the land on the left bank of the river. 
The expedition also included thirty waggons of goods 
and 500 draught-oxen ; and fifty gauchos were in charge 
of it. The main expense was then tobacco and yerba. 
One feature of this mule traffic that is emphasized in 
all the descriptions is that it was divided into two 
stages, with an interval between them, for breaking 
in. As we have already learned from Azcarate, Cordoba 
Santa Fe, Santiago, and Salta kept the mules for two 
or three years before sending them to Peru. Cordoba 
and Santiago del Estero seem to have been important 
in connection with the industry of breaking in the mules. 

The sending of cattle on foot to Bolivia and Chile is 
now only a subsidiary element of the national economy, 
but it is not yet quite extinct, as the table on p. 53 

Whatever its point of departure, the traffic in stock 
always passed through the valles. Transport of cattle 
was particularly difficult in the Argentine Andes. The 
chief obstacles were not the elevation of the passes or 
the steepness of the roads, but the scarcity of water 
and the extent of the travesias, which were equally poor 
in pasturage and water, and had to be crossed rapidly 
by doubling the stages. The difficulties of the journey 
were very profitable to the oases that lay along the 



Extent of the irrigations in the north {zone of the great summer rains), and the 
south {glacier zone). The historic industry of fattening cattle in the invernadas 
and the export of cattle to the Andean regions only survive in part. On the 
other hand large modern industries have developed at Tucuman, Jujuy {sugar- 
cane), Mendoza, and San Juan {vines), and they supply the Buenos Aires 

To face p. 52. 



route. The cattle-driver could not dispense with the 
hospitality of the vallista or dispute the price he cared 
to charge. 

The length of the journey and the difficulty of keeping 
the animals in good condition in the poor pastures 
of the breeding districts made it advisable to stay longer 
in the oases. There thus arose lucerne-farms — the 
invernadas — to receive and fatten the cattle which 
passed through. Lucerne is the characteristic and 
most profitable produce of the valles. It is grown 

Export of Cattle : 

To Bolivia . . 3,600 
To Chile . . 61,200 

Export of Mules : 

To Bolivia . . 2,700 
To Chile . . 2,300 

Export of Asses : 
To Bolivia , 























' Imperfect statistics given b]' Poncel for the province of Cata- 
niarca give us some idea of the respective shares of the various Andean 
districts in the export of Argentine cattle about the middle of the 
nineteenth century. In 1855 the province of Catamarca sold 2,700 
head of cattle (1,300 to Chile, 200 to Bolivia, 600 to San Juan 
and Mendoza), 3,200 mules (2,500 to BoUvia 600 to Salta — which 
also were for Bolivia), and 1,200 asses (700 to Bolivia and 400 to Salta). 

wherever there is an assured supply of water, and is 
invariably found in the upper section of the system 
of irrigation-channels ; the cereals are sown lower down, 
and are the first to suffer from drought. In the 
quebradas, where space is more limited, the lucerne- 
fields cover the entire oasis. Every cattle track has 
a corresponding line of invernadas, which is often 
completed on the opposite slope by a last group of 
lucerne-farms where the beasts recover from the journey 
before they are sold and dispersed. 


Besides the official routes there have for a long time 
been clandestine tracks, through more difficult ravines, 
by which stolen cattle were conveyed with impunity. 
Guachipas was the gathering place for cattle of suspicious 
origin, and, to avoid being seen in Salta and Jujuy, 
they passed through the Quebrada del Toro or the 
Quebrada d'Escoipe. When Brackebusch visited 
Guachipas in 1880 the inhabitants still kept something 
of their reputation as smugglers. 

A map of the cattle-tracks which are still used in 
the Argentine Andes is a complicated network in which 
we can trace two main directions, crossing each other 
at right angles. One set of tracks leads to the west, 
toward the Pacific coast, the other set to the north, 
toward the Bolivian tableland. 

The cattle traffic is now restricted to Chile. It 
survives at San Juan, Jachal, Vinchina, and Tinogasta. 
The cattle descend to Chile about Coquimbo, Vallenar, 
or Copiapo. But the trade is now busiest in the region 
of the saltpetre-beds. The roads lead from the Valle 
de Lerma and the Valle Calchaqui toward the table- 
land by the Quebrada del Toro or the Quebrada de 
Cachi or de Luracatao, crossing lofty passes at the 
foot of the Nevados of Acay and Cachi, and reuniting 
between Santa Rosa de Pastos Grandes and San Antonio 
de los Cobres to cross the Puna de Atacama. Vegas 
(pastures) and fresh water are scarce here. The track 
passes interminably by depressions covered with a 
carpet of glistening salt, dominated by volcanic crests. 
It is used in every season of the year, but in winter 
the caravans are exposed to the cold wind laden with 
snow, the viento bianco. San Pedro is the port in this 
desolation. Here there are, on the flanks of the 
enormous cone of Licancour, fields of lucerne and 
groups of figs and algarrobas. The cattle are left 
there for a few days' rest, to prepare them for the last 
stage, the Calama oasis on the Antofagasta railway. 

The centre of this trade is Salta, or, rather, the little 


village of Rosario de Lerma, nine miles south of it, 
where most of the caravans are formed. The saltpetre 
works make yearly contracts in advance with the 
Rosario dealers, fixing the number and price of the 
beasts to be dehvered at Calama. The cost of trans- 
port includes, besides the pay of the cattle-drivers 
— eighty to a hundred piastres a journey — the shoeing 
of the mules, the rent of pasture at San Pedro, and the 
value of the beasts which die on the way. In 19 13 
the number of animals exported by this route was put 
at 30,000. The saltpetre works buy also draught- 
mules for their waggons. Draught-mules must be 
heavy, and only animals over five feet in height are 
sent to Chile. Bolivia is now the only market for the 
smaller mules and for asses. 

The trade in mules in its traditional form and the 
industry of breaking-in still flourish at Santa Maria. 
The mule-dealer's business is very different from that 
of the cattle-dealer. The mules are so tough that it 
is possible to send them by roads which would be un- 
suitable for cattle. I The journeys are longer, and the 
contracts are less settled in advance. Moreover, 
breaking-in is a delicate operation that requires experi- 
ence. The survival of the mule-trade at Santa Maria 
is an example of the maintenance of an industry owing 
to the presence of skilled handicraft. The men who 
break in the mules at Santa Maria have a remarkable 
caste-pride. Their first job is to go to Santiago or 
Cordoba to buy the mules. They bring them back to 
Santa Maria by way of Catamarca or the valley of 
Tafi. At Santa Maria the mules are broken in, then 
taken to the lucerne-farms at Poma to be put into good 
condition. There they remain in pasture for several 
months ; and at length, when the season is suitable, 
the httle band of Santa Marieiios gathers together and, 

• For instance, herds of mules are taken from Abrapampa, on the 
line of the Quiaca, to the saltpetre mines of Antof agasta, whereas every 
effort to convey cattle by this route has failed. 


driving the now docile beasts in front of them, and 
putting no loads on them in order that they may keep 
fresh, make for the fair at Huari in Bohvia, or even 
as far as Sucre. There they sell at a hundred and fifty 
piastres each the animals which they had bought for 
half that price before being broken in. The number 
of mules hibernating at Poma is about 4,000. 

The business done in the fairs of the southern Andes 
is very varied in character, but their main function 
was always as markets for stock. ^ They are held in 
March or April, when the rains do not fall, but pasture 
is still abundant and travelling easy. The fair at 
Vilque, north of Lake Titicaca, is no longer visited by 
dealers in Argentine mules. The Salta fair which was 
held at Sumala, near Rosario de Lerma, has ceased 
to be important ; at the close of the eighteenth century 
it was the chief centre of the mule-trade. The fair 
held at Jujuy is still, like the annual pilgrimage to 
the Virgen del Valle de Catamarca, one of the great 
dates in the Hfe of the Andes. In the eighteenth 
century it was mainly a cattle-fair, but it is now fre- 
quented only by mule-dealers. The development of 
the railways is gradually causing it to decline. 

The cattle-trade has long been really a form of 
barter. The Argentinians who took their herds to Peru 
brought back with them European goods that had 
come via Panama and the Pacific. At Jachal direct 
communication with Argentina is still so costly that 
they prefer to get many manufactured articles from 
Chile. Everywhere else, however, the sellers of stock 
take payment in cash. The Santa Marienos bring 
back from Bolivia only a few bags of coca and, for 
chief payment, letters of exchange, which they cash 
in the Salta banks when they return. Their gains 
swell the profits of the merchants of Salta, Catamarca, 

' There is an interesting study of fairs on the elevated tableland 
by G. M. Wrigley, " Fairs of the Central Andes," in the Geographical 
Review (New York), vii. 19 19, pp. 65-80. 


and Jujuy, who get their goods at the large importing 
houses of Buenos Aires, It is the first form under 
which the influence of Buenos Aires reaches the valles. 
It gets their custom before it begins to absorb their 

A large proportion of the stock sent to Chile now 
comes from the Andean valleys themselves. The most 
arid and desolate regions round the oases breed only 
goats and asses ; but as soon as the soil improves 
sufficiently to give a better vegetation, it is found good 
enough for a hardy and tenacious breed of horned 
cattle. The land is divided into large ranches, and 
the owners have also lucerne-farms, either individually 
or communally, the tillers of the oasis each putting 
in their beasts, which wander about in small groups 
without control. During the summer they go of their 
own accord up to the cerros, where the rains have 
brought out the vegetation, and drinking-water is 
found in the ravines for several months. In the winter 
they return to the valley, within range of the reservoirs 
and permanent acequias. Bodenbender gives us a few 
details about movements from place to place owing to 
such differences, as they are in vogue in the western 
part of the province of La Rioja, in the district of 
Guandacol. There the herds are taken during years 
of drought up to the mountains of the west. 

Apart from the Andes, the zone which used to feel 
the influence of the trans-Andean markets has been 
steadily reduced in the last forty years. At one time 
it comprised the whole range of the scrub, and even 
overflowed upon the prairie region, but it is now 
limited to the nearest cantons to the fringe of the 
mountains. Over the greater part of the monte the 
cattle are now sent in other directions ; either to 
Buenos Aires or to other Argentine towns with a 
growing population, such as Cordoba, Mendoza, and 

The rupture of commercial relations with Chile has. 


however, not made any notable change in the pastoral 
industry. Pastoral life in the scrub has very uniform 
characters. It is chiefly dominated by the question 
of water-supply. Natural open water is scarce, and 
the cattle can drink only where man's industry makes 
it possible. The problem of taming the beasts, which 
the breeders on the prairies have not always been 
able to solve, is simplified by the scarcity of water. 
There is no need to hunt the cattle, no periodical rodeos, 
when the herd is drawn in every night by thirst to the 
water-supply. Advance in colonization means the 
provision of wells and reservoirs {baldes and represas), 
without which the breeders cannot occupy the plain 
permanently, but have to fall back during the dry 
season upon the few streams that cross it. The word 
balderia means districts where the presence of a sheet 
of water not far underground has enabled them to 
form a system of wells. The best known is the Balderia 
Puntana, in the northern part of the province of 
San Luis. 

Of the regions apart from the Andes which still depend 
on the Chilean market it will be enough to mention 
two, which may be regarded as typical. The first is 
the Chaco Salteiio, on the eastern slope of the Sierra 
de la Lumbrera. The Lumbrera is a lofty anticlinal 
range of limestones and red sandstones, which pass to 
the west underneath the clay of the Chaco plain, and 
separate it from the great longitudinal sub-Andean 
corridor, which was followed by the old road, and is 
now followed by the railway from Tucuman to Jujuy. 
Colonization began beyond the Lumbrera in the 
eighteenth century by passing round it, from south to 
north, by the valleys of the Juramento and the San 
Francisco (which joins the Bermejo). The ranches, 
which employed the Indians — the occupation of the 
Chaco at this point being pacific — bordered the Ber- 
mejo and the Rio del Valle, which flows from 
the Lumbrera range toward the former bed of the 


On thz Anatuya Urn {province of Santiago del Estero). Cactus. The leafless tree in 
the foreground is a red quebracho. The leafy trees are white quebrachos. 

Photograph by the Author. 

'I?^*'''**i^*w^Vw^te. t,^ ^ 

" w—wa ii iaim B M — ii M 



On the Tartagal line (province of Santa Fi). It is by means of these marshes, which 

form in the forest, that this part of the plain is drained. Photograph by the Author. 
Plate V; 

To face p. 58. 


Bermejo, and washes the foot of the range at the 
edge of the plain. 

The cattle live in the scrub during the summer, when 
the rains have brought out the grasses. In winter they 
go up to the moist forest, with perennial vegetation, 
which covers the flanks of the range. ^ The comparative 
abundance of water lessens the labour of the breeders 
and, at the same time, the discipline of the herds. 
When the time comes, the whole ranch is mobihzed 
for the purpose of collecting the adult cattle and making 
a convoy of them. Horsemen, with the double leather 
apron which hangs at the saddle-bow to protect them 
from the branches, ride up the range with their dogs 
and plunge into the scrub. The savage beasts are 
rounded up and held at bay. The procession is formed, 
and sets out, either by the rugged paths across the 
forest and mountain or along the easier tracks over 
the plain to Embarcacion or Lumbreras, where they 
reach the railway. If buyers from the sugar-refineries 
at Jujuy do not take them, the cattle are put into 
trucks and sent to the Salta market, where there are 
sales all the year round. At Salta the beasts are fattened 
on the lucerne-farms before crossing the Cordillera. 
There is hardly any tillage, either because the winter 
drought makes the result dubious or because the 
breeders are not good at agricultural work. 

The Sierra de los Llanos in La Rioja is another centre 
for extensive breeding. From the railway, which 
follows the range at some distance, between Chanar 
and Punta de los Llanos, before it reaches La Rioja, 
no one would have the least suspicion of the importance 
and life of the region. It is, nevertheless, one of the 
main foci of Argentine history. It has proved a cradle 
of population and wealth. It was there that Quiroga 
and, later, the strange adventurer who was known by 
the nickname of the " Chacho " gathered the strength 

' On Aconcagua also the moist forest serves as winter pasture for 
the cattle from the ranches. 


that enabled them to dominate part of Argentina. 
Colonization is even older here than in the Chaco 
Saltefio. It occupied two distinct periods, separated 
by a long interval. At first it advanced from north 
to south, passing round the foot of the Sierra. It is 
marked by a line of springs, poor but permanent, 
the waters of which are absorbed as soon as they flow 
down to the porous alluvial beds of the plain. They 
appear much in the names of the district — agiiitas, 
aguaditas, and so on, abound. The road from La 
Rioja to San Luis passed these springs, and some 
population grew up about them. Thus the two sides 
of the range — the costa haja in the east and the costa alta 
in the west — became inhabited. The estate of Facundo 
is one of these aguaditas of the costa alta. 

The two castas form the historic territory of the 
Llanos, It was from there that colonization swarmed 
over the plain long afterwards. This expansive move- 
ment began about 1850 ; that is to say, at a time 
when the breeders enjoyed comparative peace and 
security, and especially when the invernadas of San 
Juan and Mendoza were developed, together with the 
export of cattle to the agricultural provinces of Chile. 
The price of stock rose, and the unoccupied land became 
of value. The occupation and exploitation of the 
plain was the work of the last two generations. They 
pushed on to the very edge of the salt lakes, leaving 
no vacant space. The travesias which surrounded the 
narrow inhabited zone of the castas were filled with 
life. The Sierra and its two castas are no longer an 
oasis in the desert, as they were in the time of Sarmiento ; 
though they still differ from the remainder of the 
pastoral zone in the density of their population and 
the variety of their resources. 

The early date of the colonization may be traced in 
a special system of tenure, though this is also found 
in parts of the provinces of Catamarca and Santiago 
del Estero. On the plain the right of ownership was 


obtained in the nineteenth century by purchase or by 
concessions of pubHc lands which belonged to the 
provincial Government. They were allotted in very 
large estates, and these, intact or broken up, are the 
actual ranches. In approaching the foot of the range 
one passes estates in the mercedes. The name indicates 
concessions that date from the colonial epoch, and they 
are, in all parts of South America that were early 
colonized, the source of land- ownership. But what 
is peculiar to the mercedes of the Llanos is that they 
have never been divided amongst the heirs of the 
first owner. I Sometimes the number of co-proprietors 
is small. They are conscious of their relationship to 
each other and know the value of the rights of each. 
The merced is in that case only an undivided property 
held in common. Sometimes, however, the numbers 
of comuneros is so great that they have lost count of 
the exact share of the merced which belongs to each 
of them. The merced feeds a whole population, legitimate 
heirs and usurpers mixed together. In these cases it 
is a real communal property, and one might compare 
it, in spite of its different origin, with the Indian 
communities which exist in Argentine territory as 
well as that of most of the other Andean States. 

The economy of the Llanos is less simple than that 
of the Chaco Saltefio. There is agriculture as well as 
breeding. There is not much rain, and it is confined 
to the summer months. The mean rainfall is, no 
doubt, higher than what we find at La Rioja (about 
30 centimetres), but it is not good enough to dispense 
with irrigation. The aguadas, springs and brooks at 
the foot of the range, are the only provision of permanent 
water, and it is very limited. The oases watered by 
these springs and brooks cover only a few acres at 

» The title of the merced often shows clearly the attraction which 
the springs at the foot of the Sierra had for colonists. The land of 
the merced of Ulapes is defined thus : " The spring and the land 
within two leagues of it in every direction." The spring is the centre. 
There its protecting deities live. 


the foot of the steep diffs of the range. It has not 
been possible to cultivate the land far from the moun- 
tains. At Chamical a trench that was made to convey 
water to the railway dried up. All that can be done 
is to follow for a few miles with a line of wells a sub- 
terranean stream of fresh and not very deep water. 
At Bella Vista a comunero has dug an acequia several 
miles long, and he sells the water at a rate of five piastres 
for forty-eight hours. But when it reaches the end 
of the acequia, it is lost between the trench and the 
field to which they would conduct it. At Ulapes, 
though it is one of the chief centres, it takes the full 
outflow of the spring during sixteen hours to irrigate 
one cuadra (a little over two acres), and each man's 
" turn " is for seventeen days. The entire oasis 
measures about fifty acres. At Olta the thin stream 
of water is surrounded by so many cupidities that the 
" turn " comes only every fifty-eight days, so that 
each field has to live fifty-eight days on one 
watering. At Catuna where a trickle of brackish 
water is eagerly collected at the foot of a dejection- 
cone, the water-right is regulated by an arrangement 
of turns that covers ninety days, so that plants 
die of thirst in the interval. The plots vary 
according to the quantity, quality, and regularity of 
the water. The orange-tree is the most exacting, the 
fig the most tenacious, of the trees. The poorest oases 
consist only of a few gardens of dusty fig-trees. 

However small it is, the oasis always stands for a 
rudiment of communal life, a pohlado, a centre round 
which life is organized in this pastoral, anarchic, 
amorphous world. Land that has a water-right is 
regarded as detached from the merced and never remains 

Besides these properly irrigated lands there are the 
hanados : cultivated plots in the hollows, where the 
moisture left by the storms is concentrated and pre- 
served. These are much more extensive, and they 


are very irregularly distributed. Inequalities of the 
alluvial ground that almost escape the eye are suffi- 
cient to direct the streaming of the water after rain, and 
it is quickly absorbed. Man assists nature as well as 
he can, and one sees everywhere tiny ridges of earth 
across the paths, for the purpose of diverting the water 
to the plots. These are the iomas. When you follow 
a toma downward, you see it after a time pass under 
a hedge of dry thorn, and this encloses a field, a cerco. 
The crops have to be jealously guarded against the 
cattle which roam in the scrub. The cercos are sometimes 
so numerous that they give the impression of a regular 
agricultural district. Most of them are planted with 
maize. The maize harvest rarely fails in the summer, 
for it is then, on account of the regular rains, that the 
maize grows and ripens. When the ears have been 
gathered, the cattle are let into the cerco, as maize- 
straw is excellent fodder. But wheat also grows well 
in the hanados. Provided the year has had a few late 
showers, the wheat sown in autumn stands the winter 
drought more or less well, and ripens after the early 
rains, at the beginning of summer. The Llanos produce 
a hard wheat ; it is not milled, but eaten, like rice, 
in the grain. There have been times when the Llanos 
have exported wheat. The census of 1888 gives the 
Department of General Belgrano, on the eastern slope 
of the Llanos, an area of 900 acres under maize and 
1,900 under wheat. When the Chilecito railway was 
constructed, this wheat competed with that brought 
on mules from Jachal, in the mining district of the 
Famatina range. Like the gardens in the oases, the 
cercos may be divided, and they are the personal 
property of those who cultivate them. 

Sowing and reaping are, however, mere episodes in 
the life of the Llanero. He is mainly occupied with 
cattle-breeding. The quality of the pasture differs 
considerably according to the nature of the soil and 
the good and bad character of the season. Sometimes 


it forms a thick carpet under the brushwood, but in 
other places it is poor and there is nothing but the leaves 
and pods of the algarroba. If the herd is too large, 
the grass will not grow again ; the breeder recognizes 
at a glance the campo recargado — the field which has 
had its capacity overstrained. The pasture has to be 
carefully nursed. But the most urgent problem is to 
get a supply of water for the cattle. Round the Sierra 
the underground water is often fresh, and there are 
plenty of wells. Still, in order to avoid having to 
draw the water, they dig large trenches at suitable 
spots in the clay, and round these they arrange the 
earth that has been dug out, with an opening toward 
the hills to catch the water when it is raining. These 
are the represas. As in the case of the banados, ridges 
of earth direct the stream to the represa. It is sur- 
rounded by a hedge as carefully as the field is. On 
the plain rain is rare, and the represas are usually the 
only reserve. They have to last the whole year ; 
even two years if there is a particularly dry summer 
that prevents re-filling. Thus they become sometimes 
veritable lakes. From a distance you can see, above 
the top of the brushwood, the bald curve of the mound 
of beaten earth which encircles them. The water 
flows over it when there has been much rain. The 
mound is sometimes 4^ to 5| yards high ; as it is at 
Tello, between the Sierra d'Ulapes and the Sierra de 
los Llanos, where the San Juan coach used to change 

The represa is the real centre of the estate. The 
house is built near it, and guards the entrance. From 
early morning until dusk the cattle come to it, singly 
or in groups. The rancher admits them, lets them 
drink, and closes the gate behind them. If the thirsty 
cattle have not his mark and belong to a neighbour, 
he sends them to drink at their own represa ; but 
he gives water to lost beasts, from a distance, whose 
owner will presently come for them. Near the represa 


is the enclosure (potrero) for calves that have just 
been born. The cows come there every morning, and 
they are milked for a few months to make cheese. 
Like the cerco, the represa is the personal property 
of the man who made it, or of one who has inherited 
it and sees to its upkeep. 

The cattle of the Llanos move a good deal. There 
are certain irregular migrations, and others that are 
periodic or connected with the seasons. Everywhere 
on the fringe of the Sierra the cattle remain in the 
ravine and on the foot-hills during the winter. In the 
summer they return of themselves to their querencia 
on the plain. The irregular migrations are due to 
scarcity of water or pasture. Driven by hunger, the 
beasts travel a long distance of their own accord. They 
mingle with other herds, sometimes so far from the 
ranche where they were born that no one recognizes 
their mark. Sometimes, again, the rancher himself 
goes, when his represa is dry, to ask hospitality in some 
more favoured canton. He is fortunate if the drought 
has not been general ; if part of the country has been 
spared and can offer a refuge. 

But it sometimes happens that the whole district 
has suffered, and the land is naked and scorched every- 
where. There is then no help except a long journey, 
to San Luis or to the lucerne-farms of San Juan, 
for the cattle. The misfortune of the Llanos sends 
up at once the rent of the invernadas all round. A 
general evacuation of the cattle is a desperate remedy, 
and is, in fact, often impracticable. During the whole 
summer the men wait patiently, hoping for the end of 
the drought. There is room for hope until April, 
when storms are still possible. If the month ends 
without rain, it is too late to remove the exhausted 
cattle ; the stages across the desolated country are 
too severe. 

The memory of the worst years of drought — the 
" epidemics," as the Llanero calls them — lives for a 



long time. They make a deep impression on the popular 
imagination, and legend makes plagues of them, in the 
Biblical way. The drought of 1884 was particularly 
disastrous. The herds were destroyed, and families 
that had been wealthy the day before set out on foot, 
" having nothing to put a saddle on " : a touching 
picture of misery for this race of centaurs, people who 
feel themselves mutilated when they are not on 
horse. The rain returns next year. The pasture 
grows all the better because the herd is smaller, and 
the Llanos give the traveller who crosses them an 
exaggerated impression of their natural wealth. 

Until quite a recent date the cattle reared in the 
Llanos were destined exclusively for Chile. Dealers 
from Jachal or Tinogasta came in the autumn, and the 
cattle passed the winter in the invernadas at the foot 
of the Cordillera. From the Sierra d'Ulapes, which 
is a southward continuation of the Llanos, the cattle 
destined for Chile were first sent to San Juan. They 
took one or two weeks to reach it. Five men were 
needed for a herd of a hundred beasts : eight for a 
herd of two hundred. The caravan was directed by 
an estanciero (rancher) or his capataz, or by dealers 
who came originally from the Llanos. 

Exports to Chile have not entirely ceased. In 1913 
the dealers from Tinogasta and Jachal, who had not 
appeared in 1912, came back. The southern part 
of the Sierra d'Ulapes, which is some distance from the 
railway, reserves its cattle for San Juan. The cattle 
are, however, more and more sent by rail to the coast. 
In the Sierra d'Ulapes the dealers from Villa Mercedes, 
which has become one of the great markets of Argentina, 
come every year, rent an enclosure [protrero), and collect 
in it, one by one, a herd of cattle, which they then 
take away on foot. They are sold at the fair at Villa 
Mercedes, and they disperse in every direction toward 
the fattening zones of the Pampa. 

This commercial revolution has led to a rise in the 


price of cattle, and this in turn has raised the value 
of land. When the value of the land rises, the methods 
of working it are necessarily improved, there is greater 
security, and thefts of cattle {citatrerismo) become 
impossible. The farmers are not content merely to 
enlarge their represas or dig deeper wells. They divide 
the fields by fences — cheap iron wire stretched on 
home-made posts, or hedges of spines like those which 
protect the banados. Thus pasture can be reserved 
untouched for the difficult months. 

This subdivision of the land by fences began in the 
south, in the Ulapes district, in touch with the richer 
districts of San Luis and Cordoba, In the Llanos 
proper the practice has scarcely begun. At Ulapes 
it is even done on the mercedes. Each comunero, 
without opposition, encloses as much space as he can, 
and leaves his cattle outside, on the common land, 
as long as possible. He only brings them into his 
enclosed land when the common pasture is exhausted. 
This will bring about the end of the mercedes ; and, 
indeed, communal ownership is not suited to modern 
conditions. The latest sign of progress is the appear- 
ance of lucerne fields. Lucerne can be grown on the 
banados wherever anything else can be grown ; and 
the creation of lucerne-farms will give the pastoral 
industry a security and stability it never had before, 
besides enabling the breeders to collect stores of dry 
forage and exploit the full pastoral capacity of the 



Tucuman and the road to Chile — The climate and the cultivation of 
the sugar-cane — The problem of manual labour — Irrigation at 
IMendoza — Water-rights — Viticulture — Protection and the 
natural conditions. 

The great industrial forms of cultivation, the sugar- 
cane and the vine, gave a new aspect to the scenery 
of Tucuman and Mendoza at the end of the nineteenth 
century. The increase of population and wealth which 
they entailed was so sudden, the economic advance 
so swift, that the owners of vineyards and the sugar- 
makers have now lost all recollection of the primitive 
industries which gave life to colonial Tucuman and 
Mendoza, and were maintained until the last generation. 
Nevertheless, if one compares Tucuman or Mendoza 
with some centre of irrigated tillage in north-west 
Argentina, one quickly perceives the original features 
which three centuries of history have given them. 
The system of land-tenure, water-rights, the distribution 
of the cultivated zones, and a thousand other features, 
show that the colonization is old. The exploitation 
of the soil and utilization of the water have not pro- 
ceeded on a methodical plan, conceived in advance, 
which would make each piece of work — the dams and 
channels of distribution, for instance — subordinate to 
the whole. The engineers who constructed the great 
modern dams of Mendoza, San Juan and Sali, had 
not to create a region of new estates, but merely to 



improve the water-supply, which was used wastefully 
by the existing estates. There is nothing more sugges- 
tive than the contrast between these stone dams, built 
according to all the rules of hydraulics, and the network 
of irregular channels, following the accidental variations 
of the land and the slope, which preceded them, and 
to which they have been accommodated as far as 
possible. In some cases the primitive acequias could 
not be altered so as to start from the dam. The 
accumulations of water succeed each other down the 
slope, held up by a simple barrier of branches and earth 
which is periodically destroyed by floods. The modern 
flood-proof dam {dique nivelador), which cuts the 
torrent in its entire width, and enables them to make 
use of its whole volume, allows a certain amount of 
water to pass, for the use of the acequias lower down. 
This falls back into the broad, stony bed, exposed to 
evaporation and infiltration as it was before. 

Long before the development of the sugar industry 
on a large scale, there was a typically urban life, 
added to the common fund of pastoral life, at Tucuman. 
The neighbouring cantons of the scrub — Trancas, 
Burruyacu, and Graneros — sent cattle and mules to 
Peru and Chile, like the other Argentine plains. But 
Tucuman drew still greater profit from its position as 
chief stage on the high road to Peru, at the point where 
the plain passes into the mountain. Primitive Tucuman 
was an excellent type of high-road village. The road 
determined its position at the point where the Sali 
had to be crossed. The first site of the town, near 
Monteros, was abandoned in the eighteenth century, 
when the high road to Peru settled in the sub-Andean 
region and ceased to run through the Calchaqui valley. 
The road sustained its chief industries, tanning and 
harness-making for the muleteers of the Andes, and 
waggon-making for the troperos of the plain. The 
road and the people travelling along it afforded an 


outlet for its wheat and flour, and facilitated the 
export of its tobacco to the coast-provinces. The 
waggon-owners were really contractors, conveying stuff 
at their own cost. Moreover, part of Bolivia came to 
make its purchases at the shops (tiendas) of Tucuman, 
and the merchants of the town took in exchange 
Bolivian ore for export. Thus the road built up a 
nucleus of available capital at Tucuman. This capital 
was invested, at the close of the nineteenth century, 
in sugar ; and it has increased a hundredfold. Most 
of the works still belong to old families of the 

The sugar-region is comparatively small. It covers 
an area which has exceptional climatic features, owing 
to the vicinity of Mount Aconcagua. While the higher 
chains of the Andes further north are separated from 
the Chaco plain by lower ranges, on which the east 
winds leave their stores of moisture less freely, Tucumdn 
has on its west the great mass of Aconcagua. It rises, 
a giant landmark, at the beginning of the plains, from 
which there is nothing to separate it, and gathers the 
clouds round it. 

On the eastern slope of Aconcagua is the limit of 
the crescent of tropical forest, which begins about 
three thousand miles away, on the flank of the Vene- 
zuelan and Colombian Cordilleras, and is connected in 
the centre, in the equatorial zone, from Guaviare to 
Mamore, with the forests of the Amazon region. At 
its two ends it is reduced to a narrow belt which does 
not reach, in the east, the alluvial plains, the savannahs 
of the Orinoco and the scrub of the Chaco. The humid 
forest of the Argentine Andes is nowhere more luxuriant 
than near its southern limit, above Tucumdn. There 
are no palms or tree-ferns, but the convolvulus abounds, 
and the evergreen trees are covered with epiphytes. 
Aconcagua is one of the sharpest climatological limits 
in the world. In the latitude of Salta one has only 
to go about 150 miles to pass from the moist forests 


At the bottom of the valle one can see the sandy bed of the river as a white line in the fore- 
ground. Zone of torrential terraces, which follows the edge of the valle. 

Photograph by the Author. 

"" 1 


Plate VI 


At the wzstern foot of Aconcagua, the snowy crest of which can be seen. 

Photograph by the Author. 

To face p, 70, 


of the sub-Andean chain of the Lumbrera to the arid 
valley of Cachi. On both sides of Aconcagua there are 
less than fifty-five miles between the sugar-cane fields 
won from the forest and the oasis of Andalgala, or that of 
Santa Maria, which are right in the desert zone. Accord- 
ing as one approaches Aconcagua from the east or the 
west, one finds, from base to summit, either the suc- 
cessive stages of vegetation of the humid Andes — from 
forest to grain-sown prairie {paramo or pajonal) — or 
those which are characteristic of the arid Andes, from 
the spiny scrub of the valleys to the fields of resinous 
tola of the Puna. The contrast of climates is repeated 
in the character of the soils. Aconcagua contains in 
itself the entire Andes in miniature. At the foot of the 
narrow zone of Alpine crests, in the few square miles 
of the elevated valleys of Tafi and Pucara, there is 
a small agricultural and pastoral world, in a temperate 
chmate, that has nothing quite like it elsewhere, 
narrowly confined between the forest and the desert.^ 
The sugar district of Tucuman is not, properly 
speaking, an oasis ; that is to say, it is not an irrigated 
canton in the midst of a desert, but a moist patch in 
the heart of a less favoured region. The traveller 
who comes from the Chaco finds that the dust dis- 
appears from the moister air as he approaches Tucuman. 
The rainfall approaches 974 millimetres at Tucuman. 
Irrigation is a valuable aid to the farmer, but it is 
not indispensable. Maize is generally raised without 
watering, and part even of the sugar-cane crop is raised 
on land that is not irrigated. It is not the relatively 
heavy rainfall that has led to the development of the 
sugar-cane estates at Tucuman, but the evenness of 
the temperature, together with the atmospheric moisture 

> The higher valleys of Aconcagua ofier inexhaustible interest to 
the visitor. At Sancho (Pucara valley) there is a group of Italian 
colonists who grow maize and wheat : a unique fact, I believe, in the 
whole of this part of Argentina. The Tafi valley is mainly pastoral, 
the pastures of the valley being used in summer and the forest fpj: 
winter pasture, 

72 tucuman and mendoza 

and the rareness of frost. The mists which develop 
at the foot of Aconcagua form a protecting mantle 
above Tucuman which prevents nocturnal radiation. 
The nearer one gets to the mountain, the later, rarer, 
and lighter the frosts are. If, on the contrary, one 
goes out some distance westward toward the plain, 
the frost becomes more severe, and it is impossible 
to grow sugar-cane. Not only the humidity, but the 
contour also, has some influence on the changes of 
temperature and the distribution of frost. The de- 
pressions in which the cold air accumulates, in virtue 
of the well-known meteorological phenomenon of inver- 
sion of temperature, are more exposed than sloping 
districts, where the air circulates regularly and freely. 
The eastern limit of the zone spared by the frosts 
passes about thirty-five miles from the foot of Acon- 
cagua. It has only been made clear by experiment, 
and one can still see there the traces of abandoned 

The water-supply in the Tucumdn district consists, 
primarily, of numerous evenly flowing streams which 
come down the eastern flank of Aconcagua (Lules, 
Famailla, Angostura, Gastona, Medinas, etc.). They 
join the Sali to the south of Tucuman. The Sali is 
an irregular torrent which rises in the sub-Andean 
depression to the north and Tucuman, and, after squeez- 
ing Aguadita between the north-eastern extremity of 
Aconcagua and the sub-Andean chain of Burruyacu, 
enters the plain at Tucuman. It then flows southward, 
meandering over a large bed of shingle in which it has 
not had force enough to excavate a valley, and the 
inclination of the land on its left bank (to the east) 
is toward the east and south-east. The lands on the 
right bank of the Sali are consequently better provided 
with water than those on the left bank. The difference 
is so marked that, as the estates on the right bank get 
most of their supply elsewhere, the water of the Sali 
nearly all goes to the left bank. In 1912 a siphon 


was actually constructed underneath the bed of the 
Sali to convey the unused water of the Rio Lules to 
the right bank. Lastly, to the north of Tucuman 
the Sierra de Burruyacu provides a few intermittent 
streams of water, which the estancias (ranches) formerly 
conducted, with great labour, to their represas. These 
do not suffice for irrigation on a large scale. 

The sugar-cane was first grown at the gates of the 
town and, to the east, at Cruz Alta, on the left bank 
of the Sali. These were some distance from the 
mountain because, as there was less rain and the soil 
was fairly dry, the natural vegetation was less luxuriant, 
and it cost less to prepare the ground.^ The Central 
C6rdoba Railway, which passes along the right bank 
of the Sali south of Tucuman, is the axis of another 
zone of cultivation and of old factories. Colonization 
afterwards went further west. A new provincial rail- 
way, describing a section of a circle, was grafted at 
Tucuman (1888-90) and Madria upon the Central 
Cordoba line. It keeps close to the foot of the range, 
the falda, and enables farmers to settle on it. The 
new estates have not confined themselves to the alluvial 
plain ; they have crept up the foot hills, and are con- 
stantly going higher. In the latitude of Tucuman 
the mountain approaches within eight or twelve miles 
of the Sali, and the possibilities of extension westward 
are strictly limited ; indeed, they are already exhausted. 
Further south, on the contrary, the plain extends 
more than fifteen miles to the east of the provincial 
railway. West of Monteros, Concepcion, and the 
existing line of works, there is a reserve of available 
land ; there is room for a fresh advance westward. 
There is also room for expansion to the north-east, 
at the foot of the sub-Andean chain of Burruyacu, 

I In 1894 it was calculated that ground that was not yet cleared 
was worth loo to 150 piastres a hectare at Cruz Alta, and the cost 
of clearing 150 to 200 piastres, whereas in the moist forest at the 
foot of the Sierra the land was worth only 75 to 100 piastres, 
the cost of clearing it was double (300 to 350 piastres). 


where the frosts are sHght. It is in this direction that 
most of the clearing is now going on. 

These various districts do not offer quite the same 
conditions to the farmer. The Falda is the most 
suitable, not only on account of the rareness of frost, 
but because of the fertility of the soil, as the tropical 
forest has accumulated inexhaustible stores of humus. 
The sugar-cane returns are higher there than anywhere 
else. Irrigation is not necessary, but, on the other hand, 
the humidity reduces the proportion of sugar in the 
cane. Irrigation is the rule in the next belt, between 
the local railway and the Central Cordoba line (on the 
right bank of the Sali). On the left bank a large 
number of the estates must still do without watering. 
The most original feature of the organization of the 
sugar industry at Tucuman is the maintenance of a 
class of independent cultivators, the caneros, side by 
side with the large enterprises. This survival of small 
and medium properties is a fact to which we find no 
parallel in the other sugar districts of tropical America.^ 
Everywhere else, in Brazil and in the Antilles, the 
farms which worked up their own produce, on primitive 
methods, have been absorbed by the central works. 
The home-worker has lost his land as well as been ruined 
in his industry by the competition of the modern 
factory. At Tucuman, on the contrary, the sugar 
industry never passed through the stage of domestic 
production. It was set up in full development, some 
devoting their capital to building works, others to 
growing the cane. Irrigation seemed from the first to 
dictate a concentration of ownership ; the refineries at 
Cruz Alta constructed costly special canals to bring 
the water of the Sali. It is only large proprietors who 
have the resources needed to carry out work of this 
kind, and sufficient influence to secure permission to 
conduct the water over adjoining estates. However, 
the law of 1897 reorganized irrigation and withdrew 

» Except, perhaps, in Barbadoes. 


the water-supply from the control of a few privileged 
big capitalists. Public works, undertaken by the pro- 
vincial authorities, brought the water within the reach 
of every farmer. Since 1897 the number of water- 
concessions has risen from 230 to nearly 2,000. 

The interests of the factory (ingenio) and the farmers 
{caneros) are not indissolubly connected. Their re- 
spective parts in the final product of the sugar industry 
are not invariable. The increase in the number of 
factories means an increase in the number of cane- 
buyers, and so tends to raise the price. During the 
years antecedent to 1895 the refineries improved their 
machinery, and their productive capacity increased 
faster than the cultivated acreage. The price of the 
cane then rose to about twenty piastres a ton. As this 
figure is far above the net cost, the refineries endeavoured 
to profit themselves by the advantages that accrued 
to the caneros, and they bought land for cultivation. 
It is to this period that the big concerns of Cruz Alta 
belong. Afterwards the production of cane increased, 
and nearly met the demands of the refineries, so that 
their competition relaxed. They ceased to buy land, 
and the price of cane was lowered. 

The refineries now deal with cane which they grow 
themselves, with paid workers of their own ; with 
cane that they buy at a reduced price from tenants 
[colonos], who grow it on their own estates ; and with 
cane sold them by caneros who own their own fields. 
The range of the country absorbed by each refinery 
is often very extensive. The Sugar Congress of 1894 
estimated that half the cane-harvest was transported 
by rail, and that freight from one canton to another 
in the sugar district brought the railways more than 
a third of what they got for conveying sugar from 
Tucumdn to the coast. Each railway company tries 
to keep along its own line the cane it carries to the 
refineries, so that the transport of the sugar when it 
is made will fall to itself. Thus the cane-market is 

76 tucuman and mendoza 

divided into two separate compartments, with very 
little exchange between them. The first comprises 
the zone that depends on the Central Argentine and 
the State Railway ; the second is the zone of the 
Central Cordoba and the old local line bought by the 
Central Cordoba. 

Certain parts, such as Cruz Alta and the district 
round the town, have too many works in proportion 
to their production of cane, and they are centres of 
import. The price of the cane is always higher here 
than in the agricultural districts. Each works has its 
customers. At the stations it instals weighing machines 
for receiving and weighing the cane. It is only the 
more important caneros who have the privilege of 
selling by the truck-load, or selling to distant works. 
The small growers are compelled to deal with the local 
refinery. They sell it their canes direct, or, sometimes, 
through agents and dealers. In the days when the 
works were competing for cane it became the custom 
to sign the purchase-contracts as early as possible ; 
sometimes at the beginning of October, as soon as the 
harvest of the year is over. In order to make sure 
of the loyalty of the canero the manufacturers advance 
money to him, in proportion to their difficulty in getting 

Caneros and mill-owners have had to work together 
to settle the problem of labour. There was not enough 
at hand, and it had to be recruited elsewhere. Agents 
were sent all round — to Catamarca and Santiago del 
Estero, and even to the province of Cordoba — to collect 
and bring gangs of workers. They were a mixed, 
unsteady, undisciplined lot. The owners of the works 
advanced them money in order to keep them, and 
then, fearing to lose the money advanced, would not 
dismiss them for laziness and irregularities. These 
troubles are not felt as much now as they were at the 
time when the industry was expanding. The popula- 
tion of immigrant workers has settled down and taken 


root. Besides Creoles it includes a small number of 
Italians and Spaniards ; but while the Creoles have 
been definitely incorporated in the sugar industry, the 
European immigrants use their savings to buy a bit 
of land and take to farming. 

In normal times Tucuman has all the labour it 
requires, but the harvest always compels it to seek 
help in other provinces. In May and June the agents, 
well supplied with money, set out for the Salado, the 
districts round the Sierra d'Ancasti, etc. The temporary 
attraction of Tucuman at this season is felt over a 
considerable distance. At Santa Maria, on the far 
side of Mount Aconcagua, 600 people — men, women, 
and children — emigrate for five months, and live on 
the cane-fields. The merchants of Santa Maria make 
them advances, in the name of the refiners, to the 
amount of about sixty piastres per worker. Further 
north the Tucuman cnganchadores come into collision 
with those from Salta and Campo Santo, and they 
divide the available labour between them. Some of 
the temporary immigrants settle down permanently 
every year, and swell the normal population of the 
sugar industry. 

Outside the Tucuman district an unfortunate attempt 
was made to plant the sugar industry at Santiago 
del Estero, and large works were constructed. But 
the frost is severe there. For some years they tried 
to keep the Santiago works going with cane brought 
from Tucuman, but the freight was too heavy, and the 
works had to be abandoned, or else dismantled and 
set up elsewhere. The valley of the Rio Grande, from 
Jujuy to 200 miles north of Tucuman, in the sub- 
Andean depression between the Sierra de Zenta and the 
Lumbrera, has, on the other hand, suitable conditions 
for the cultivation of the cane. Frost is rare. The 
climate is warmer than at Tucuman, the canes ripen 
more quickly, and the average return is higher. The 
water-supply also is good. There have long been 

78 tucumAn and mendoza 

plantations in this region. Their first market was the 
region of the tableland and the valleys, where they 
chiefly sold brandy : a traffic of long standing, which 
one always finds round the cold districts of the Andes, 
from Colombia to the north of Argentina. The modern 
refineries of Ledesma and San Pedro took the place 
of the primitive mills as soon as the railway approached 
Jujuy, and even before it entered the valley of the 
Rio Grande. They then sent their sugar by waggon 
in November and December, between the close of the 
sugar season and the commencement of the rains, 
which spoil the roads. 

The sugar district of Jujuy now has a very different 
economic and social organization from that of Tucuman. 
Here there are no farmer-proprietors. Each centre is 
a large estate, in the midst of the forest, where the 
workers are lodged and fed by the works that employs 
them. The contractors who clear the ground for them 
are obliged by the terms of their contract to import 
their workers directly from the south, so that they will 
not take any away from the farming. There is no 
available labour, no free market, on the spot. Since 
the completion of the Quebrada de Humahuaca line, 
however, there has been a good deal of immigration, to 
settle or temporarily, of the mountaineers of the table- 
land. The sphere of influence of San Pedro now extends 
as far as Bolivia. For the harvest, which, like that of 
Tucuman, requires a good deal of additional manual 
labour, the works look to the wild Indians of the Chaco. 
This curious stream of seasonal migration, which the 
sugar campaign of Jujuy provokes every winter outside 
the zone of white colonization, is of very old date, 
going back more than sixty years. Belmar notices it 
about the middle of the nineteenth century. The 
recruiting agents of San Pedro and Ledesma set out 
from Embarcacion, where the railway ends, and enter 
the Chaco, from which each of them brings a troop 
of some hundreds of natives between March and June. 


The number of these temporary immigrants seems to 
be about 6,000. The Chiriguanos of the north leave 
their families on the Chaco, and the men come alone. 
The Matacos immigrate in whole tribes. They camp 
in huts like those of their own villages, under the 
shelter of the works, and are paid in maize, meat, and 
cigars. In October, when the algarroha flowers and 
makes them dream of their own country, they receive 
the remainder of their pay in money, and spend it in 
brandy, clothing, knives, and firearms. 

The history of Mendoza resembles that of Tucuman 
in many ways. In the province of Cuyo, as at Tucuman, 
urban life has been precocious. In the middle of the 
eighteenth century Mendoza and San Juan exported 
wines, dried fruit {pasas and or ej ones), and flour to the 
coast and to Paraguay. Part of the so-called " Chilean 
flour " consumed on the Pampa, really came from 
Jachal and Mendoza. This trade ceased in the nine- 
teenth century, but San Juan and Mendoza found 
another source of wealth in fattening cattle and sending 
them to Chile. Belmar, in 1856, estimates the extent 
of the lucerne farms of Cuyo to have been 150,000 
cuadres (440,000 acres). ^ As at Tucuman, the present 
period is characterized by a rapid expansion of cultiva- 
tion and a rapid growth of population. But, whereas 
at Tucuman the neighbouring provinces have provided 
the whole of the manual labour required, and the 
actual population is essentially creole, at Mendoza 
there has been a larger number of foreign immigrants. 
In 1914, foreigners were 310 per 1,000 of the entire 
population of Mendoza : a larger proportion than for 
the whole country. The immigrants going straight to 
Mendoza from the ports numbered 12,000 in 1911, and 
15,000 in 1912 ; almost as much as for the province 
of Santa Fe, and more than for the province of Cordoba. 
Thus Mendoza plays a part of its own in the charm 

' A few convoys of cattle still use the Uspallata road, especially 
over the Espinacito pass in the Cordillera de San Juan. 

80 tucumAn and mendoza 

which Argentina has for the imagination of Europe. 
When we examine a chart of the population of South 
America, we notice that the oases of Cuyo contain the 
only important groups of European population at any 
distance from the coast. 

The prosperity of Mendoza to-day depends upon the 
cultivation of the vine, just as that of Tucuman depends 
upon sugar. The cultivation of the vine is possible in 
the greater part of Argentina. In the early days of 
colonization there were vineyards as far as the Paraguay. 
They still flourish at Concordia on the Uruguay and 
at San Nicolas on the lower Parana. But the wet 
summers of the eastern provinces are not suitable for 
them. The climate for them improves as one goes 
westward, and there is less rain. The dry zone of 
eastern Argentina is the special field of the vine. There 
it has spread over nearly twenty degrees of latitude, 
and it depends, like other cultivation, upon irrigation. 
In the Andean valleys of the north-west it rises to a 
height of 7,500 feet. South of Mendoza the higher 
limit of the vine sinks rapidly, and there are no vine- 
yards in the mountainous district itself. On the other 
hand, its range increases ; in the east it spreads as 
far as the Atlantic coast, in the valley of the Rio Negro. 

The former centres of viticulture in the north-west, 
in the oases of the castas of La Rioja, Catamarca, and 
Salta, have scarcely been affected by the advance ; 
and, in any case, their extent is very limited. The 
vine-district of the Rio Negro is only in process of 
creation, and its output is still small. Thus the area of 
production on a large scale is limited to the three 
oases of San Juan, Mendoza, and San Rafael, which in 
1913 yielded 4,750,000 hectolitres, out of the total Argen- 
tine production of 5,000,000 hectolitres. These three 
centres differ from each other to-day rather in their 
economic development than in their ph3^sical conditions. 
At San Juan, the transformation of the earlier methods 
of production and the traditional Creole industries is 


only now taking place. At Mendoza it is quite finished. 
The San Rafael centre, on the other hand, is of recent 
origin ; it was created on the site of a fortress which 
guarded the Indian frontier until 1880. Cultivated 
areas have appeared on virgin soil, in the midst of the 
desert. These different circumstances account for diver- 
sities which, though they will disappear in the course 
of time, are still obvious to the traveller. The general 
scene is the same everywhere. Arid and desolate 
mountains close the horizon in the west ; at their 
feet spreads the immense alluvial deposit on which 
the vineyards, surrounded by rows of poplars, grow 
wherever water is to be found. 

There are so few gaps in the lower slopes of the 
Cordillera that the available water is gathered at a 
small number of points. The Rio San Juan alone 
drains a belt of the Cordillera at least 140 miles broad. 
Each of the two oases, Mendoza and San Rafael, has 
two streams of water to feed it. The Mendoza and 
the Tunuyan at Mendoza, and the Diamante and the 
Atuel at San Rafael, approach each other, when they 
leave the mountains, so closely that the estates they 
water blend into a continuous area. Then, however, in- 
stead of uniting, they diverge and are lost, separately, 
in the plain. These streams have less fall than the 
thinner torrents of the oases of the north-west, and the 
average inclination of the dejection-cones which bear 
the vineyards is slight. The upper slopes of the cone, 
where thin beds of clay lie upon shingle, give clear 
wines of excellent aroma. Hence, in the Mendoza 
district, the vineyards of Lujan and, further down, 
of Godoy Cruz, Guaymallen, and Maipu produce 
choice brands. On the plain, to the east of Mendoza, 
at San Martin and Junin, the harvest is larger, but 
the wine is rough, and one can often taste the salt- 
petre of the clayey soil. There is the same difference 
between the upper and lower district at San Juan and 
San Rafael. 



The oases of San Juan and San Rafael spread evenly 
over the most suitable parts of the alluvial talus, but 
the oasis of Mendoza has a peculiar shape which can 
only be explained by historical causes. The cultivated 
belt is a narrow strip along the Tunuyan, for more than 
sixty miles, as far as the heart of the plain, out of 
sight of the Cordillera. It is one instance, out of a 
thousand, of the influence of traffic on colonization, 
As a matter of fact, the road from Mendoza to the coast, 
by which the cattle convoys of San Luis went to the 
invernadas, passes along the Tunuyan. The estates 
grew up by the side of it. The villages of Santa Rosa, 
Las Catitas, and La Paz, which mark the various 
stages of it, are all of ancient origin. Strangers are 
rarely found there. One still sees in them very old 
houses, built before the railway was made, dating from 
the days of the carril or waggon-road. The importance 
of this line of water across the desert is clearly seen on 
the Woodbine Parish map. 

The use of irrigation in this district raised different 
technical problems from those of the north-western 
provinces. In this latitude the torrents of the Andes 
are formidable when the snows meet, at the beginning 
of summer. The flood is all the greater and more 
sudden as the heat is late. From all the ravines of 
the mountains the muddy waters then converge toward 
the valley. The flood scours the bed of the river, 
erodes its banks, and threatens to find a way amongst 
the estates. Even the towns of Mendoza and San 
Juan have more than once been in danger. The fear 
of diverting the flood and of bringing it upon themselves 
compelled them to be content with raising only light 
and frail dams in the path of the torrent. At San 
Juan they used, for a long time, the waters of the 
Arroyo del Eestero, a small brook fed by infiltration 
from the Valle de Zenda, and it was some time before 
they ventured to draw upon the river itself. 

Another problem, which the smaller oases of the 


Tjxe dejection-cone, at the foot of which is the Very small oasis, is seen resting against the Sierra 
d'Ambato. Photograph by the Author. 


*ii» 'w .■^.■-'. \i.' 


Zone of clay hills at the foot of the Sierra de San Antonio, at the edge of the Chaco. Corral 
(cattle park) made from tree-trunks. Photograph by the Author. 

Plate VII. 

To face i\ 8.', 


north-west hardly know — the problem of drainage — is 
of paramount importance at San Juan and Mendoza, 
as far as a large part of the irrigated surface is con- 
cerned. The water infiltrating into the soil forms a 
subterranean sheet which approaches more or less 
to the surface according to the topography. It comes 
to the surface at the foot of the cone, where the slope 
diminishes and the cone gradually passes into the 
plain. Hence the cone has, at its base, a belt of marshes 
(cienagas), and sometimes a line of good springs [bar- 
bollon). At San Juan, if you move far enough away 
to get a comprehensive view of the whole of the estates, 
you see that they occupy the middle belt, half-way 
down the cone, the top of which is composed of coarse 
shingle, while the bottom is too wet. The advance 
of the plots upward and the steadily increasing 
use of the available water tends to raise the level 
of the underground sheet and enlarge the area of 

There is a fine black soil, very fertile when it is 
drained, and no irrigation is needed ; as it is possible, 
according to the depth of the drainage-trenches, to 
regulate the level of the underground water so as to 
make it reach and feed the roots. The draining of the 
marshes, again, opens up a field for the further expansion 
of the estates, especially at San Juan, where it has 
scarcely begun. Moreover, the water that is obtained 
by draining the marshes enables them to create new 
irrigated estates further on. At Mendoza there is 
already a considerable area irrigated by drainage-canals 

The level of the water m the marshes sinks in the 
summer and rises in winter, at the time when the 
irrigation of the upper districts is suspended or greatly 
reduced, and when the surplus of the acequias, which 
the fields no longer take, flows or infiltrates downward 
in any way that it can. Thus, contrary to the torrent 
itself, it is in winter that the drainage-canals are at 


their fullest. At Barriales (Mendoza), and on the lower 
course of the Zanjon canal, thousands of acres, watered 
by the drainage-canals and exposed to drought in the 
summer, have the right to take water from the river 
or the canal during the three summer months, from 
November to January, During the remainder of the 
year they are restricted to the use of the drainage- 
canals. This sort of concession seems to provide a 
means of using the surplus of the river during the 

With this exception there are no temporary rights 
limited to the high-water season and enabling them 
to raise quick crops, that ripen in a few months, round 
the area of perennials. At least, the expansion of the 
estates and the wish to use the full water-supply have 
led to the creation of eventual rights, besides the 
definitive rights. They do not come into play,theoreti- 
cally, until the definitive rights have had their full 
supply, and then only in a fixed order. They are 
subordinated to the ordinary rights, and the market 
value of land with eventual water-rights is much lower 
than that of land with definitive rights. ^ At San Rafael, 
where colonization preceded the systematic inventory 
of the natural resources, the concession of eventual 
water-rights was a means of facilitating the develop- 
ment of estates ; though they were very badly informed 
as to the surplus of the Atuel and the Diamante and 
the area that the new land might cover. 

In practice, the co-existence of eventual and defini- 
tive rights presents many difficulties, and more than one 
pretext for fraud. Somtimes the owners of eventual 
rights have access to the river higher up than the older 
intakes, which ought to be served first, A whole 
group of canals feeding land with eventual rights is 

I There are at present in the Mendoza province 275,000 hectares 
with a definitive right, and 303,000 with an eventual right. The 
concessions fed by the Diamante and the Atuel at San Rafael, which 
amount to 120,000 hectares with a definitive right and 150,000 with 
an eventual right, are not yet entirely developed. 


in this way grafted upon the Tunuyan above La Paz, 
the rights of which are definitive and ancient. 

At Mendoza and San Juan the water-rights, codified 
in provincial laws which date, like the dams, from the 
end of the nineteenth century, are very different from 
the water-rights which hold in the Andean provinces 
of the north-west. The variety of the physical con- 
ditions is reflected in the institutions. Here water is 
not an object of private ownership independently of 
the soil. The concession of water is assigned to a 
definite estate, and it is formulated in superficial 
measurements. The law fixes the volume of water 
that goes with each unit of surface. If the output 
of the river is not large enough to provide the volume 
stated in the law to the whole of the irrigated district, 
all the lands with definitive rights receive at least an 
equal amount, and the available water is shared by 
the canals in proportion to the extent of the surface 
they irrigate. 

No law could secure for the farmers of Cuyo, even 
those with definitive rights, a constant supply of water, 
or save them from suffering in common from the varia- 
tion in the volume of the torrents, and it was not even 
possible to guarantee them water in any permanent 
fashion. The turno is used everywhere when the water 
is low. Lower down, where the drought lasts nearly 
the whole j^ear, the turno is the standing rule. At La 
Paz, on the fringe of the irrigated area, it has to be 
applied rigorously. The turn of each owner comes 
every eight, ten, or twelve days. In normal times he 
receives the suerte de agua ; that is to say, the output 
of a sluice of a fixed size during a half-hour for each 
hectare (a little over two acres) of land. But if the 
river runs low, it becomes impossible to supply several 
neighbours simultaneously, and, in order to avoid 
making the interval between supplies too long, the 
duration of the suerte de agua is reduced by half or 


The oases of Cuyo are like the small oases of the 
north-west as regards the function of those who are 
engaged in the administration of irrigation. The water- 
laws give the provincial functionaries general directions. 
Below them, however, to arrange the distribution of 
the water and the upkeep of the canals in detail, they 
have allowed to survive, and have merely regulated, 
certain primitive democratic organisms. At San Juan 
the superintendence of the irrigation is entrusted to 
elected municipal councils and the governor of the 
department. At Mendoza, the owners appoint a council 
of three delegates and an inspector for each canal, 
and these settle the annual budget of the canal, submit 
it to the provincial authorities, receive the taxes, carry 
out the necessary repairs, and so on. The great sub- 
division of property and the large number of electors 
make these little republics very lively ; and they are 
very jealous of their autonomy.^ 

Even within the narrow limits of the Cuyo district 
the climatological conditions, which control the growth 
of the vine, are not everywhere the same. The opening 
of the vineyards varies by several weeks, according 
to the locality.2 The northern slope of the cone, 
exposed to the sun and protected from the southern 
winds, is more precocious. Some districts, poorly 
sheltered from the southern winds, and very liable 
to have late frost, have not been planted with vines 
(district of the Tucuyan below San Carlos, to the south 
of Mendoza). Everywhere the dryness of the atmo- 
sphere causes the ripe grapes to remain long on the 
vine, so that the harvest may last two months or more 

' There are more than 6,000 owners at San Juan to 91,000 hectares, 
and more than g,ooo at Mendoza (zone of the rivers Mendoza and 
Tunuyan) to 130,000 hectares (statistics compiled in 1899). 

* The difference is much greater at a distance from the Cuyo pro- 
vince. Catamarca, v^-hich specializes in the production of grapes 
for the table, is invaded by buyers from Buenos Aires, and begins 
to send grapes in December, tw^o full months before the harvest begins 
in Mendoza. 


without any harm. It thus requires a relatively small 
supplement of manual labour, and does not necessitate 
seasonal migrations. The length of the harvest, more- 
over, facilitates the trade in grapes, which is one of the 
special features of the Argentine vine-industry. 

The climate is not so suitable for making wine as 
it is for growing vines. The temperature is high at 
the time of the harvest, and it retards fermentation 
in the cellars. The grapes have too much sugar and 
too little acid for the transformation of the must to 
proceed of itself. Hence it is necessary to have an 
expensive equipment, improved cellars, and skilled 
workers. This industrial organization is beyond the 
reach of the small cultivators. The cultivation of the 
vine and the making of wine are, therefore, not always 
associated. They are taken up by two different classes 
of the population, Tucuman has its caneros and 
factories, and Mendoza, by a division of labour which 
seems to the European visitor as strange as the climate 
which partly explains it, has its vine-growers {vinateros) 
and its manufactures {bodegueros)^ 

Each of these two classes has had its share in the 
common work. The vinatores have created the vine- 
yard. The Creole vine, imported into Peru from the 
Canaries and spreading over the whole of the southern 
Andes, yields great quantities of a sugary, but rough 
fruit, which does not lend itself to imitating the wines 
of Europe, At Mendoza it has almost entirely dis- 
appeared, though it survives at San Juan. It is grown 
on trellis-work, wooden frames resting on forked 
branches of algarroha ; though sometimes the strong 
stems rise without support to a height of about six 
feet and are crowned with shoots and leaves. The 
new vine has been grown from French cuttings. While 

' While the cultivation of the cane has, for the most part, become 
dependent upon the sugar industry, which represents large capital, 
wine-making is, on the contrary, usually regarded as merely an annex 
of wine-growing. 


the Creole vines look like orchards, the French vines 
are grown in rows of iron wire. 

The plantations were first made by Creole workmen, 
who were paid by the day. Afterwards, as immigration 
from Europe increased, long-term contracts came into 
vogue, in virtue of which the colonist received the 
bare land and undertook to have it planted with vines 
at the end of three, four, or five years. The owner 
supplied the material, and at the end of the contract 
the colonist received a few centavos for each vine, or 
sold the whole or part of the first harvest. On account 
of these contracts there were always a great many 
foreigners in the districts where vineyards were in course 
of formation. The proportion is now less at Mendoza 
than at San Rafael, where colonization is more recent. 
Whenever they could, the owners left to the colonists, 
not only the business of planting the vines, but the 
upkeep of adult vineyards. In those cases the colonist 
receives a fixed sum per hectare (lOO piastres, for 
instance), and has to dig, prune, irrigate, etc. A large 
number of these agricultural workers and small con- 
tractors have saved a small capital, and purchased 
land of their own. This they have planted, and they 
thus form a new class of working owners. 

While the vinatores were multiplying vineyards, the 
bodegueros were transforming the methods of making 
wine. The weakness of imperfectly fermented wines, 
which turn sour and evaporate quickly, was all the 
worse for the growers of the colonial period because 
transport was slow, and there was no protection against 
the sun, which cooked the algarroba casks or the leather 
bottles on the backs of the mules. The vineyard- 
owners often preferred to distil their wine and export 
brandy, flavoured with aniseed, to the Andean table- 
lands or the coast. The climate and the risks of trans- 
port had brought into existence an astonishing variety 
of methods of treating the must. Sometimes it was 
concentrated by boiling until it became a thick syrup 


(arrope), something like, apparently, the thick wines 
of the Mediterranean in former times. At other times 
the must was cooked without thickening it, to prevent 
immediate fermentation, as is done with the chicha 
in Chile to-day ; or sour wines were mixed with boiled 
must and ashes of the shoots, which masked the acidity. 

These traditions are now lost, but it is curious to 
see the bodegueros still endeavouring to meet the taste 
of the Creole population of the north-west, which has 
retained the preference for sweet and fruity wines. San 
Juan, which caters to these customers, manufactures 
mistelas — fresh boiled must with an addition of alcohol 
— which are mixed with mature wines in order the imitate 
the imperfect fermentation of earlier days. Perhaps 
there is no part of the world where the art of wine- 
making has been pushed so far as in the bodegas of 
Mendoza. The correction of the must, and the analysis 
and treatment of diseased wines, follow the most modern 
of methods. The bodegas produce a very steady wine, 
which is guaranteed by their trade marks. The wine 
of the Mendoza type, which they endeavour to produce, 
is a strong red wine, of heavy colour, with twelve or 
thirteen per cent, of alcohol. It may euphemistically 
be called a blended wine, but is in reality diluted wine. 
Argentina does not produce very light wines, and has 
no use for diluted wine. 

The number of wine-making cellars in 1913 was 
997 at Mendoza and 336 at San Juan. But they differ 
very much from each other in size. Most of them have 
only a small equipment and modest capital. Some, 
on the other hand, are large enterprizes which could 
produce enough to supply a city : vast constructions 
of brick or adobe, with light roofs as a precaution 
against earthquakes. 

The owners of the cellars almost always have their 
own vineyards, but they also buy the harvests of culti- 
vators who have not cellars. In 1908 it was calculated 
that 140,000 tons of grapes were sent to the press 

90 tucumAn and mendoza 

by the owners and 175,000 tons bought by the hode- 

The conflicts of the interests of the vinateros and the 
bodegueros are the very woof of life at Mendoza. The 
price of grapes is infinitely more variable than that 
of wine, and the vinatero who has no cellar is at the 
mercy of the bodeguero. If he does not want to see 
his harvest go to waste, he has to accept unconditionally 
the price that is offered him. The bodeguero has, 
moreover, the advantage of disposing of the grapes 
grown on his own estates. If the circumstances do 
not encourage him to produce all he can, he sends to 
the press merely his own harvest and will not buy 
any other. Thus the whole burden of commercial 
crises falls upon the vineyard with no cellar. 

The prices paid for the grapes differ a little for 
different parts of the vineyard, but the variation is 
more due to the number of bodegas in the district and 
their capacity than to the quality of the grapes. Trans- 
port of the grapes to a great distance is very expensive. 
In exceptional times grapes have been brought from 
San Rafael to the Mendoza cellars, but each bodega 
gets its supply as far as possible from its own district. 
At San Juan the capacity of the cellars is propor- 
tionately less than at Mendoza, and the bodegueros 
have imposed very hard conditions on the growers. 
The price fixed in the purchase-contract does not 
of itself give a complete idea of the benefits which 
the bodeguero enjoys. The grapes are purchased by 
weight, but the bodeguero reserves the right to say 
at what date they are to be delivered. He begins to 
harvest his own vines when the fruit is scarcely ripe, 
but he puts back the harvesting of the grapes he buys 
as far as possible, even to April or May. These grapes 
exposed on the plant to the heat of the sun, become 
overripe ; they gain in sugar and lose in weight. They 

» More recent statistics are not to hand. The proportion differs 
a little every year according to the prices of wine and grapes. 


make vines with a higher percentage of alcohol, and 
with these he can correct the lighter wines made during 
the preceding weeks. Finally, the bodeguero does not 
advance money to the vinatero, as the manufacturer 
does to the canero in the sugar industry. 

The only safeguard of the vine-growers is the lack 
of understanding between the bodegueros and the 
competition between them. Although there are con- 
ventions amongst the bodegueros which lay down offi- 
cially, before the vintage, the basis of all transactions, 
they are not respected except in so far as they serve 
a man's interest. If it is expected that the wine will 
easily be sold, and that grapes will be short, buyers 
are abundant, and contracts are signed before the 
fruit appears. It is a sort of gamble, as in the case of 
wheat and cotton. Bulls and bears struggle for the 
market. If the bulls win, the vinateros grow rich.^ 

When we compare the diagrams which show the 
production of wine and sugar in Argentina during the 
last thirty years, we see that they clearly illustrate 
the condition of dependence of the vineyard industry 
and the sugar industry as regrads the home market. 
The prosperity of the region of the Pampas, especially 
during the years before 19 14, is reflected at Mendoza 
and Tucuman. The expansive movement of the estates 
is similarly bound up with the construction of railways 
to connect them with the coast. Industry, on a large 
scale, began at Tucuman in 1876 : that is to say, at 
the opening of the Central Cordoba line. The area 
planted with cane rose from 2,200 hectares in 1876 to 
14,800 in 1886. The production of sugar was trebled 

' Besides the causes of a geographical nature which I have indi- 
cated, the separation of cultivation from wine-making has other 
economic grounds, but they do not fall within the range of this book. 
The large bodega is better situated than the small cultivator for organ- 
izing the sale of his wines on the distant market of Buenos Aires. 
Also, the bodegueros alone are able to meet the competition of Buenos 
Aires merchants who import European wines and make adulterated 

92 tucumAn and mendoza 

in four years, from 1876 to 1880. But the Central 
Cordoba was a narrow-gauge line, expensive to use 
and necessitating a transfer of goods at Cordoba. In 
1891 the broad-gauge line from Buenos Aires to Rosario 
was extended to Tucuman ; and in 1892 the narrow- 
gauge line from Rosario to Santa Fe, San Cristobal, 
and Tucuman was also brought into use. The following 
years were marked by rapid advances of the sugar 
industry. From 1891 to 1895 the area planted with 
canes rose from 14,200 to 40,700 hectares, and the 
manufacture of sugar from 31,000 to 135,000 tons. 
At Mendoza, also, the development of the vineyards 
dates from the completion of the San Luis Railway 
in 1885. Plantations were at once started, and three 
years later they came into touch. In 1887, the railway 
carried 27,000 hectolitres of wine from Mendoza to 
the coast ; in 1890-91 it carried 268,000 hectolitres. 
Production had increased tenfold in that short space 
of time. 

As the home-production of wine and sugar increased, 
the imports from abroad fell. As early as 1885 Tucuman 
was able to meet the home demand for raw sugar, 
and refined only was imported. In 18S8, a refinery 
was erected at Rosario to deal with Argentine sugar 
which came by rail, and foreign sugar which came up 
the river. Import ceased at this date, or there have 
since only been occasional years of import, to meet 
a scarcity. The imports of ordinary foreign wines 
continued to increase until 1890 (800,000 hectolitres), 
or as long as the wine produced at Mendoza did not 
suffice to meet the demand. They have steadily 
decHned since that date (350,000 hectoHtres in 1913), 
and are now only seven per cent, of the national pro- 
duction. We should add that, even in regard to ordinary 
wines, the Mendoza and the imported wine are not 
strictly comparable, that the competition between them 
is not simply a matter of price, and that some customers 
continue to prefer foreign wine. 


Trellissed Creole vines. 

Photograph by Boote, Buenos Aires. 

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ifc^lijMpiii.tiii[.:ii iiLsfcA. ini jiii'im 

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French vines on wire. An irrigation-trench along the path. In the foreground (left) a wine- 
cellar (bodega). Photograph by Soc. Fotoerafica de Aficionados, Buenos Aires. 
Plate VIII. ^ 

To face p. y2. 


The elimination of foreign wines and sugar and the 
development of Mendoza and Tucuman were facilitated 
by a Protectionist tariff. The details of this are very 
curious, as they had to be adjusted to the natural 
conditions. The need of protection is chiefly due to 
the distance of the market from the productive centres. 
Mendoza is 650 miles from Buenos Aires, Tucuman 
more than 750 miles. Freightage on the railways is dear. 
It is thirty-five piastres a ton for wine between Mendoza 
and Buenos Aires, or nearly double the normal maritime 
freight for the European wines sent from Bordeaux 
or Genoa. The charge for sugar is about thirty piastres 
a ton between Tucuman and Buenos Aires. Thus the 
cost of transport is nearly one sixth the entire cost 
of production. In spite of this common burden, the 
need of protection is not at all the same in Mendoza and 
Tucuman. The climate of Mendoza is excellent for the 
vine. The dryness of the atmosphere keeps down 
cryptogamic diseases, and the risks of cultivation are 
slight. The crop is abundant, the frosts late, and not 
serious. Hail is frequent, it is true, at the mouths of 
the Cordillera valleys, but it is never general ; it affects 
only a small part of the harvest. The curve of pro- 
duction is very regular. It rises every year very 
gradually, and in proportion to the increase of the 
cultivated area. As a result of all this, the wine market 
has a stability which the vine-growing countries of 
Europe, with their less reliable climate, do not enjoy. 
The protective tariff, therefore, remains fixed. The 
duty on foreign wines in the cask — eight centimes 
(gold) per litre — has not been altered since the intro- 
duction into Argentina of the wine-industry on a large 
scale. I 

I Mendoza is further protected by law against fraud. This legis- 
lation is partly national and partly provincial. The national law, 
which takes into account the interests of the merchants of Buenos 
Aires, permits the manufacture of artificial wines. The provincial 
law, in the special interests of the productive districts, is more 
stringent. It prohibits the manufacture of artificial wines. It also 


The curve of sugar-production is just as irregular 
as that of wine-production is regular. From one year 
to another the output may vary by as much as lOO 
per cent., and the changes cannot be predicted : 147,000 
tons in 1912, 335,000 tons in 1914, 150,000 tons in 1915. 
The reason is that the sugar output depends upon the 
season. Canes which have been touched by frost go 
sour and ferment in the ground. They have to be 
milled quickly, and the harvest must not be prolonged. 
Even in good years the costly equipment of the works 
is active during only three months (July to September, 
but at Jujuy, July to October). 

This irregularity of production, which makes pro- 
tection inevitable, also complicates it infinitely in 
practice. Sometimes the harvest is not large enough 
to meet home demands, and imports have to be per- 
mitted. Sometimes production is far beyond the 
home demand, and the sugar-manufacturers have to 
export the surplus so as to prevent a slump in prices 
on the overloaded home market. In order to meet 
these very different situations, the protecting tariff 
has had to be repeatedly modified and complicated. 
But it is impossible for us to give the history of it in 
detail here. The duties on foreign sugar were fixed, 
in successive instalments, between 1883 and 1891 ; 
and special protective measures were taken in the 
interest of the refiners in 1888. Over-production 
appeared for the first time in 1895. Export at a loss, 
to relieve the home market, was at first organized by 
an association of the producers themselves (in 1896). 
But in 1897 the Government developed it by putting 
a premium on export. The export period lasted from 
1897 to 1904. The law of 1912, which gives its latest 
form to the Protectionist regime, gives the Government 

fixes the minimum percentage of alcohol, and prevents the dispatch 
from Mendoza to Buenos Aires of alcoholic wines to mix with must. 
Finally, it defends the vinatero against the bodeguero by fixing the 
quantity of grapes to be used in making a hectolitre of wine and so 
prevents fraud at the bodega. 


the right to suspend for a time the duties on imports 
and allow foreign sugar to come in. As at Mendoza, 
the provincial Government intervenes as well as the 
national. The alternation of bad and exceptionally 
good harvests leads to the appearance of all sorts of 
unforeseen laws, modifying the bases of taxation, 
regulating production in the works, and restricting the 
acreage of cultivation. ^ Thus Tucuman has lived in 
an atmosphere of storm and uncertainty and unceasing 
discussion, of discouragement and insecurity ; the 
price of its geographical position at the extreme limit 
of the area in which cane can be grown. 

• Especially during the crisis of 1902-3. 


Manual labour on the obrajes — The land of the banados and the agri- 
cultural cantons of Corrientes — The timber-yards of the Chaco 
and the tannic-acid works of the Parand — The exploitation of 
the maU — The forestry industry and colonization. 

From the Andes of Tucuman and Salta to the banks of 
the upper Parana in the province of Misiones the north 
of Argentina is now a vast timber-yard for the exploita- 
tion of the forests. It resounds everywhere with the 
axe. This exploitation of the forest is of early origin 
on the river ; in the eighteenth century Buenos Aires 
was supplied with wood from the Parana. In the 
western Chaco the difficulty of transport by land 
retarded the development of the forestry industry. 
The only market for the timber of Tucuman was the 
Andean region. It was not sent to Mendoza after the 
beginning of the nineteenth century, when the willow 
was acclimatized in the oases of Cuyo. Below Rosas 
the wood of the quebracho was at first taken in waggons 
from Santiago to Buenos Aires, but this traffic ceased 
when the river-route was reopened, and we do not find 
it resumed until recent times, when railways were 

The outer fringe of the forest and the scrub where the 
industry has had to find labour, is inhabited by a very 
sparse pastoral population. There are, however, besides 
the thinly populated districts of the farms, certain 
busy hives which lend animation to the scrub. These 
over-populated cantons are districts of cultivation by 



banados, or the cultivation of flood-lands. There is 
constant intercourse between these ancient centres of 
Creole life and the timber-yards of the forest. The 
forestry industry recruits its workers there, on temporary 
contracts. The wages paid are brought back to these 
centres and spent there. They help to maintain 
social groups of an archaic type, which the meagre- 
ness of their production would otherwise doom to 

The haftados are scattered over the range of all the 
sierras within the limits reached by the torrents from 
the mountains before they are lost. They also stretch 
along the two rivers that are considerable enough to 
cross the scrub, the Salado and the Dulce. The course 
of the Bermejo, where the natural conditions are much 
the same, lies outside the sphere of primitive Creole 
colonization. The tilled lands are not continuous on 
the Salado or the Dulce. There are no banados wherever 
the bed of the river is enclosed by high banks which 
prevent flooding. The course of the Salado threads 
together, in the manner of a rosar}^ three main groups 
of banados below 26° S. lat., (Matoque and Boqueron) 
between 27° and 28° S. lat. (Brea), and between 28° and 
29"" S. lat. (Le Bracho and Navicha). But the classic 
country of the banados, where they cover the widest 
extent and sustain the most considerable body of 
population, is the interior delta of the Rio Dulce below 
Santiago del Estero, in the departments of Loreto, 
Atamisqui, and Salavina. 

Santiago is situated almost at the top of it. In its 
upper part the Rio Dulce is enclosed between high clay 
cliffs (department of the Rio Hondo). Below Santiago 
the river seems to run to the top of a sort of flattened 
alluvial cone, over which it wanders. Instances of the 
migration of rivers during the historical period are 
plentiful in the north of the Argentine plain. The 
scrub is scored east of the Salado with a network of dry 
beds, the edges of which gradually disappear as the 



vegetation extends over them. But there is no other 
part where the erratic nature of the waters is so marked, 
the vagabondage so considerable, as in this section of 
the basin of the Rio Dulce. The small towns of Atamis- 
qui and Salavina, which lived on the waters of the Dulce, 
were suddenly ruined in 1825, when the river, in conse- 
quence of a particularly violent flood, turned away to 
the south and lost itself in the Salinas Grandes. A canal 
was dug in 1897 to irrigate the district of Loreto, on the 
left bank of the Dulce, but the entrance was badly 
protected, and the flood of 1901 swept into it, and, 
guided by it, reached the bed it had abandoned a century 
before, going south-eastward toward Atamisqui. That 
town and Salavina recovered their prosperity, while it 
was necessary to abandon the farms on the Rio des 
Salines, which now has water only during high floods. 
Actual beds, old beds that are always ready to serve 
again, and traces of canals changed and cut by the 
stream, form a great network in the midst of the plain ; 
and the flood rolls to one side or the other according to 
the road open to it, and the facility with which the 
various elements of the network lend themselves to the 
passage of the water. Such is the land of the banados. 

You enter it to-day at Loreto station, where the 
line from Santiago to Frias approaches within a few 
miles of it. This station is erected in the midst of the 
arid monte, and owes its existence to the neighbouring 
banados. Turning eastward from the railway, as soon 
as one has crossed the broad, sandy bed of the Rio des 
Salines, one finds oneself in the heart of the banados 
farms. The road passes between hedges {cercas), over 
the top of which one sees the green of the wheat and 
lucerne. The plots are very small : gardens rather than 
fields. In clearing the ground they have preserved the 
best-situated trees, and the light foliage gives a useful 
shade to the crops. The crown of the algarrobas rises 
everywhere above the top of the hedges. 

The fields do not cover the whole area of the annual 


inundations. They are confined to the part where the 
flood is fertiUzing ; where it leaves behind it a fine, 
useful clay which keeps the store of moisture for several 
months. In other places the current is too rapid. It 
furrows the soil, leaves large holes in it like the lones 
in the flood-area of the Rhone, and sweeps away the 
barriers ; or the water brings sterile sand which it 
deposits in long stretches ; or again, if it is not drained 
away in time and evaporates on the spot, it deposits the 
salts it contains, and the land, looking as if it had a white 
leprosy, becomes unfit for vegetation. 

The floods begin in summer, during November or 
December. They are caused by the rain-storms in the 
Tucuman district, and are very irregular. Some of the 
houses are evacuated, and others are protected by walls 
of earth, which are raised from hour to hour according 
to the rise of the waters. Behind these walls the people 
await the abatement of the flood. When the mud which 
is left behind has the proper consistency, they till it and 
sow wheat. The wheat grows in the winter, and is 
harvested in November quickly, so that the fresh flood 
may not overtake it. 

The caprices of the flood compel them frequently 
to change the sites of their houses and fields. The 
ancient village of Loreto was evacuated after a flood, 
and is now merely a mass of deserted ruins. Round 
the naked trunks of the algarrohas, killed by excessive 
deposits of sand or salt, are uniform colonies of plants 
of the same age and the same species, which invade the 
area where the adult scrub has been destroyed. The 
mill has been rebuilt less than a mile away, and has 
not lost its customers, who have raised their ranchos 
some distance away. The insecurity of the plots has 
prevented the development of small ownership. The 
farmers are tenants of the ranches, which stretch from 
the river to a considerable distance in the interior. 

The use of banados for agriculture is of long standing. 
It probably goes back to the pre-Columbian period. 


Father Dobritzhoffer, who is the first to refer clearly 
to it, compares the Rio Dulce to the Nile ^ ; and in 
point of fact, the banados have some resemblance to 
farming in Pharaonic Egypt, while there is nothing like 
them in the irrigated zones of the Andean valleys. 
The banados were then devoted to the cultivation of 
wheat and pumpkins. The pumpkin, which is of 
American origin, had not yet been eliminated by wheat, 
which was introduced by the Spaniards. The wheat 
produced in the banados maintained a fairly active 
export trade at the beginning of the nineteenth century, 
and the banados were at times called, with some exaggera- 
tion, the " granary of the Vice-royalty." It is difficult 
to trace accurately the movements of the population 
of the banados because of the constant changes of the 
administrative areas in the province of Santiago. The 
total population of the province is not now more than 
three per cent, of the total population of Argentina. 
but its comparative importance was much greater in 
the middle of the nineteenth century (nearly eight 
per cent, at the census of 1861). The departments of 
Loreto, Atamisqui, and Salavina on the Rio Dulce, 
which live mainly on the estates of the banados, comprised 
46,000 inhabitants in 1861, and only 43,000 in 1895. 
The Woodbine Parish map and Hutchinson's description 
clearly give one an impression of a dense population in 
the area of the banados. I refer elsewhere to the anti- 
quity and constancy of the streams of temporary 
immigration which spread the population of the banados 
over a large part of the territory of Argentina. '^ The 
temporary emigration of the Santiagueiios is distributed 
amongst most of the provinces of central and northern 
Argentina, but it is chiefly of interest in connection 
with the frontier region. The Santiagueno is a woodman 
above all else, and the forest area has the advantage over 
the other labour-markets of wanting workers at all 
seasons, summer or winter, whereas the sugar-cane 

« Historia de Abiponibiis. » See the chapter on population. 


On the Rio Dulce, near Loreto, in the dry season. Its actual bed. excavated at a recent date 
by a flood in soft clay, is not yet stable. Photograph by the Author. 

loreto: FARMINc, J.\ iMNDATION. 

In the zone of the scrub, where the floods of the Rio Dulce spread. The interior delta of the 

Rio Dulce is one of the earliest centres of population in Argentina. 

Photograph by the Author. 
Plate IX. 

To face p, joo. 


harvest at Tucuman and the harvest in the south only 
last a few months. They emigrate from the banados to 
Tucuman in May ; to Cordoba and Santa Fe in October, 
November and December ; but to the forests of the 
Chaco all the year round. 

Apart from the banados of the Dulce and the Salado, 
the province of Corrientes contains the main reservoir 
from which the timber industry drew its manual workers. 
Just as at Santiago del Estero, one finds at Corrientes 
also the opposition between agricultural and breeding 
districts which is so common in the older colonized 
regions of South America. The esta?icieros (ranchers), 
who are breeders, are the masters of Corrientes, but the 
line of low hills of sand and red clay, punctuated by 
lagoons, which crosses the north-western corner of the 
province, is not subject to their domination. There the 
land is subdivided ; there are once more fields. Tobacco 
was an article of export for this fraction of Corrientes, 
especially after the political isolation of Paraguay, 
the chief producer of tobacco in the nineteenth century. 
During the whole of the first half of the nineteenth 
century the tobacco-buyers travelled all over Corrientes 
after the harvest, in January and February. The fertile 
soil, moreover, with a mild climate in which tropical 
plants flourish as well as those of the temperate zone, 
provides the elements of a local comfort which is com- 
plete in itself. Here again agricultural colonization has 
created a relatively dense nucleus of population, capable 
of great increase. Although the administrative divisions 
do not exactly correspond with the natural divisions, 
the unequal distribution of the population in Corrientes 
is made plain by the figures given in the census of 1895. 
The density rises in the agricultural areas to eight 
inhabitants per square kilometre, in the department 
of Bellavista ; ten at San Cosma ; fourteen at Lomas ; 
thirty at San Roque. It is only between one and two 
in the purely pastoral departments (Concepcion and 
Mercedes) . 


Corrientes also has its forests, and in these we find 
most of the species of the forests of the Chaco, in straight 
lines, along the water-conrses, and in somewhat larger 
patches on the tablelands which separate the lower 
valleys near the Parana. They at first supplied the 
Cunipai bark which was used in the Corrientes tanneries. 
The yards for the construction of river-boats emigrated 
from Paraguay to Corrientes at the beginning of the 
nineteenth century, at the same time and for the same 
reasons as the tobacco trade. The exploiting of the 
red quebracho did not begin until about 1850. In 1887 
Virasoro relates that fifty ships are engaged in loading 
with Nandubai timber on the banks of the Rio Corrientes 
and transporting it to Rosario.^ Born on the left bank 
of the Parana, the forestry industry emigrated toward 
the end of the century to the right bank, whither the 
workers of Corrientes followed it. 

We find the same movement further north, on the 
Paraguay. The exploitation of the woods is in that 
case a very old industry on the tributaries of the left 
bank. D'Azara draws attention to its importance.^ 
Robertson found, when he went from Corrientes to 
Asuncion in 1814, a population of wood-cutters in the 
marshy belt near the river. During floods they took 
refuge in the agricultural cantons of the frontier on 
high ground, where they were well received. It seems, 
then, that wood-cutting was already a seasonal industry 
at this time. The exploitation of the forests is now 
rapidly invading the right bank, which was long 
abandoned to the wild Indians. 

The Santiagueiios and Correntinos do not mix. The 
two zones of expansion and of forestry, of which they 
are the pioneers, are independent of each other. The 

' Val. Virasaro " Los esteros y lagunas del Ibera " in Bol. Instil. 
Geog. Argent, fvi. 1887 ; pp. 305-31). 

» Diario de la navegacion y reconocimiento del Rio Tibicuari (Coll. 
de Angelis, vol. ii.). 


quechua, which is the language of the banados of the Rio 
Dulce, is spoken in the timber-yards of the Chaco de 
Santiago ; the guarani, the language of Corrientes and 
the Paraguay, is most common along the river, in the 
Chaco de Sante Fe. Their respective spheres will not 
come into touch with each other until the Ouimili 
branch of the Central Norte Railway, which comes from 
the Santiago province, joins the line of penetration at 
Resistencia, on the Parana, in the west. 

The forestry industry of the interior and that of the 
river-districts differ not only in the character of the 
workers, but in their organization and their market. 
The variety of red quebracho which is exploited in the 
west is not quite the same as the variety that is found 
in the east. Each has a name of its own — quebracho 
sanHagueno and quebraco chaqueno. The former con- 
tains ten per cent, of tannin, the latter thirty per cent. 
The former is cut down for timber, the latter in order 
to extract the tannic acid. The one is sold in Argentina, 
and the other sent abroad. 

The working of the timber at Santiago has remained 
in the hands of a number of small capitalists and con- 
tractors who do not own the land and do not work 
there. They are content to buy in small amounts and 
according to the demand at the moment, the right to 
exploit the forests {derecho de monte or derecho de Una). 
The trunks of exceptionally large quebracho provide 
logs that are sold by cubic measurement, but the district 
of the quebracho sanHagueno mainly exports sleepers. 
Quebracho sleepers have been used in constructing the 
railways, both narrow and broad gauge, during the last 
twenty years on the Pampa. Tall and thin trees make 
telegraph posts ; the smaller branches make stakes for 
wire fences. In parts of the bush where there is no 
red quebracho, the retamo is used, to make posts for 
enclosures, and also the white quebracho, which is sold 
in round logs. Finally, the forests provide wood for 
fuel. The works at Tucuraan, and the locomotives over 


a good part of the land, use wood-fuel. The wood of the 
red quebracho, if left for some years in the yards where 
the sleepers are made and is rid of the sap-wood, which 
rots and falls out — the lena campana — is excellent fuel. 
Charcoal is cheaper to transport than the wood, and 
can therefore be sent farther over the whole prairie 
district. It is made in the monte, along all the railways, 
and especially in the thinner forests on the edge of the 

The forestry of the interior is unstable as well as 
scattered and primitive. The equipment — saws that 
are easily taken down and set up — is not costly, and does 
not require much capital. When one canton of the forest 
has been exhausted, the saws are taken down and re- 
moved. The cuttings are not made in such a way as 
to allow the forest to recover, and so permit a continuous 
exploitation. Everything of any value is taken. The 
quebracho is, moreover, a tree of slow growth. The 
forestry industry has at times returned, after an interval, 
to land that had been stripped, but that is not because 
they had planted a new generation of trees. It is 
because it became profitable, as the state of the market 
and the cost of transport changed, to cut down the small 
trees which had not been considered good enough on 
the earlier occasion. 

When the master obrajero removes, he is followed by 
the greater part of the workers. But to induce them 
to emigrate, or to recruit cutters in the banados who will 
agree to work in remote or new districts, he has to be 
liberal and offer higher wages. Hence the conditions 
of work and the rate of wage are not the same in every 
part of the forest. The oldest area of working, which 
is crossed by the Central Cordoba, between the provinces 
of Catamarca and Santiago del Estero, has a surplus 
of good workers. On the other hand, the obrajeros of 
the valley from San Francisco to Jujuy, where the 
exploitation is more recent, have only a moderate 
amount of labour at their command. The returns 


are not higher there than in the south, though the 
forests are incomparably denser and richer. It has 
been very expensive to bring about a continuous stream 
of immigration toward the main region of forest work, 
which is now called the Chaco, along the railway that 
starts from Ailatuya and goes about 130 miles further 
north. As the worker is on piece-work, the price 
per sleeper when the work was begun on the Chaco 
had to be double, on the Ahatuya line, what was paid 
in the older line from Santiago to Frias, close to the 

The work is profitable only within a short distance 
from the railways. Waggon transport raises the price 
rapidly. Moreover, the forestry industry is just as 
dependent on the railways for provisions as it is for the 
carriage of its wood. The ohraje has no source of food- 
supply on the spot. The marshy estates which begin 
to spread in the area of irrigation-canals at Banda, 
eastward of Santiago del Estero, supply only their 
customers at Afiatuya and the Chaco line. Sometimes 
the railway has to bring water as well as food. Over 
a great part of the Chaco de Santiago there is no running 
water, and the underground sheets are little known, or 
inaccessible, or salty. The obraje is a land of thirst. 
In order to meet the demand for water they dig reservoirs 
like the represas on the ranches, which are filled by the 
rains. But as soon as the dry season sets in they become 
stagnant green pools, and the men have to rely on 

While the Chaco de Santiago is now a democracy of 
mall obrajeros and contractors, the eastern Chaco, alongs 
the Parana, has quite a different type of society. It is 
entirely in the hands of the big tannic-acid factories, 
where the quebracho trunks are stripped and boiled, and 
their sap is concentrated in a viscous resin. The lofty 
chimneys of these works rise above the forest at intervals. 
Here the work assumes a capitalistic and industrial, 
character which it has not in other places. It is con- 


trolled by powerful concerns, highly organized, which 
conduct it on a pre-arranged plan. It is true that the 
works do not deal with the entire output of quebracho,^ 
but they almost control the market, even as regards 
the unworked wood which is exported, and they reserve 
a good deal of it for their branches in Europe. In order 
to secure the heavy loans which the works represent, 
the companies that have built them have been obliged 
to take over large forests, and they have come to own 
these. The concentration of the area in their hands 
goes on daily, and the number of companies is reduced 
by amalgamation or by the purchase of rival concerns 
and their estates. On the territory of the Chaco, where 
the administration of public lands was in the hands of 
the Federal Government, some precautions were taken 
to prevent the monopoly of the country ; but the 
forests of the provmce of Santa Fe belong entirely to 
two firms. 

The eastern Chaco has received from Europe, not only 
the capital that was needed for the construction of 
works, but also a number of workers, either for admini- 
stration or for technical direction. These have proved 
more exacting than the Creoles of the Santiago saw-mills. 
Beside most of the works there are now comfortable 
villas and brick towns for the workers. The expense 
was quite prudently incurred, as the industry is less 
erratic in this region. A tannic-acid factory cannot be 
removed like a saw-mill. When the timber-supply is 
exhausted in the district, the works gets its material 
from a distance, as long as the freightage permits. It 
depends on the railway, not only for the carriage of 
its products, as the saw-mills do, but for the supply of 
raw material. 

The works are not all equally wealthy. They are 

" It is more and more necessary to deal with the extract of the 
quebracho on the spot the further north one goes toward the interior 
of the continent because the freights to the exporting ports rise 
higher and higher. 


scattered over about ten degrees of latitude, north of 
30° S. lat., within reach of the river, which keeps them 
in communication with the world, and at the same time 
has enabled them to tackle the full breadth of the forest. 
The quebracho is particularly abundant north of Santa 
Fe and south of the Argentine part of the Chaco, where 
it is the life and soul of the forest. The works which 
have been set up there, in the midst of the denser 
forests, have plenty of capital, and this enables them 
to nurse their supplies and buy timber at a distance. 
The forest is still almost virginal at their gates, so that 
they have a long future in front of them. On the other 
hand, the oldest works, on the southern fringe of the 
forest, and that of Corrientes, on the left bank of the 
Parana, are already paralysed for want of timber. 

The works are all at a short distance from the river ; 
not only for convenience of exporting their products, 
but because this is the only part of the Chaco where one 
can find fresh water. And the tannic-acid factory needs 
a great deal of fresh water. Along the river, in a belt 
about thirty to sixty miles wide, we find a permanent 
hydrographic network such as is found nowhere else 
on the plain. It consists of long series of marshes 
covered with rushes (canadas), and in places they be- 
come at their mouths regular streams with well defined 
beds. The underground water also is generally fresh 
and plentiful, whether it is due to the abundant rain 
or to infiltration from the Parana, and many of the works 
have successfully bored for it. In these parts one suffers 
from too much water as frequently as from thirst. On 
these immense and almost horizontal surfaces the water 
spreads from the canadas over the whole forest. The 
railway, and even the houses, then stand out of a sheet 
of stagnant water, which takes months to disappear. 
Trunks which are badly placed, lying in the stations 
to be removed — sometimes, according to the market, 
lying there for years — are half buried in the mud. 
The waggons find it hard to move in the roads. Mules, 


which pay very well in the dry forests of the west, could 
not make the effort that is required here, and they use 
oxen — the finest beasts for a muddy country. The 
long-horned, lean Creole cattle drag the waggons with 
difficulty, and a correntino, with long slender legs, shod 
with mud, guides and urges them, looking like a crane 
with his slow and cautious steps. The work of these 
drivers is much harder than that of the wood-cutters. 
They earn nearly twice as much, and it is the difficulty 
of getting enough men for this work that keeps down 

The importance and stability of the large works has 
fixed the labour market on the right bank of the Parana, 
and there is no need to go to Corrientes to look for men. 
They come of their own accord, A daily service of 
small steamers brings them to all the ports which 
dispatch quebracho. The left bank, on Argentine 
territory, has also no hiring centre, such as there still 
are at Asuncion and Concepcion in Paraguay. 

Even on its own land the works leaves the working of 
the forest to contractors, from whom it buys the timber. 
But the ohrajeros, whether they work in the company's 
forests or their own, are very dependent upon the works. 
The contracts vary according as they are owners or 
otherwise ; according to whether they undertake to 
deliver the timber at the stations or leave it where it 
is felled ; and according to whether they have the 
requisite oxen and waggons or have to loan these from 
the company. They draw advances from the company, 
and, on the other hand, they pledge themselves to 
purchase what they require for their workers at the 
company's stores. The profit of these sales increases 
the revenue of the works. The company monopolizes 
all trade, both import and export. It exercises an 
absolute sovereignty over the forest. It has merely 
deigned to grant the railway company space enough to 
construct its lines and its stations. 

The last forestry centre in modern Argentina is in 


the province of Misiones on the upper Parana. Posadas 
is its chief station, and protects its southern outlet. 
Its influence extends beyond the Argentine frontier, 
over a small part of Brazil and Paraguay. In Misiones 
there are two types of forest, which differ a good deal 
from each other, while neither resembles the quebracho 
forest. One is the forest of araucarias [pinos) which 
covers the elevated tablelands at a height above 2,000 
feet. The other is the tropical forest, rich in essences 
and of perennial vegetation, which fills the bottoms 
and slopes of the valleys. The pine, which is also much 
worked on the Brazilian tableland, yields an excellent 
white wood, suitable instead of the northern pine. 
It would find a ready market at Buenos Aires, but it 
has never been worked on Argentine territory because 
of the great distance of the woods from a navigable 
river. On account of its position on the tableland the 
araucaria has to wait for the railways of some future 
date. I As to the leafy tropical forest it includes a number 
of useful varieties {Umbo, lapacho, etc), but the most 
esteemed of all is the cedar. Its wood is rose-coloured, 
scented, and fine-grained, and very suitable for furniture. 
At the time of D'Orbigny's travels the inhabitants of 
Corrientes were looking out for cedars from the mountains 
brought down the river when in flood. The obrajes 
of cedar-wood now extend twenty miles or so on the 
Argentine bank, and forty miles in the Paraguay bank, 
which is more even and better for transport. The 
trunks are floated in rafts down to Posadas ; as the 
cedar, which is less dense than the quebracho, not only 
floats, but is improved by parting with sap in the water. 
At Posadas the rafts are taken to pieces, and the trunks 
are delivered to the saw-mills. 

But timber is not the chief forest industry in Misiones, 
as it is on the Chaco. Beside the obraje in the forest 
there is the yerbal, a works for dealing with the mate 

' In Brazil the saw-mills for the araucariaii pines are established 
along the Sao Paolo-Rio Grande Railway. 


{Ilex Paraguay ensis). It is well known that an infusion 
of mate (a kind of tea) is an important element in the 
food of the western States of South America. Gathering 
the leaves of the mate has been a profitable occupation 
for centuries : a unique instance, perhaps, in the forest 
industries of South America. It has never been inter- 
rupted, though it has often changed its locality. 

The plantations made by the Jesuits were abandoned 
when the missionaries were dispersed. After the close 
of the eighteenth century Paraguay became the chief 
area of production. Villa Rica seems to have been the 
most prolific centre of the yerba. After that date, 
however, the Jujuy basin, further north, was exploited, 
and the yerbateros, who came from Curuguati, advanced 
eastward as far as the Falls of the Guayra on the 
Parana. In the nineteenth century the trade in 
Paraguay mate seems to have suffered less than the 
tobacco trade from the policy of isolation adopted by 
the Dictators of Paraguay. The descriptions given 
by Mariano Molas, Demersay, and others, show that 
the business continued fairly actively. It even extended 
northward, and reached as far as the Rio Apa. Villa 
Concepcion became a rival yerba market to Villa Rica. 
The monopoly exercised by the Paraguay Government, 
however, and the restrictions put upon the navigation 
of the river, led to the development of the yerba industry 
in the eastern Misiones on the left bank of the Uruguay. 
Itaquy served as port of embarkation. In the last 
third of the nineteenth century the yards moved from 
the left to the right bank of the Uruguay. Since 1870 
the Parana has supplanted the Uruguay, and the yerba 
trade has concentrated at Candelaria, This meant the 
resurrection of Misiones. In 1880 San Javier, on the 
Uruguay, worked up 800 tons of yerba, and Candelaria 
more than 1,000 tons. The yerbales round San Javier 
began to run out, and the yerbateros had to go further 
and further up the Uruguay, toward the yerbales of 
the tableland of Fracan and San Pedro, Candelaria 


was mainly fed by the yerbales of the right bank of the 
Parana, on Paraguayan territory. Posadas has now 
succeeded Candelaria, and the yerbales that depend 
upon it are scattered over both banks up the Parana. 

The yerbales of Misiones He outside the tropical forest 
proper. They are on the lower fringe of the pine- 
forest, and begin at some distance from the river, with 
which they are connected by muddy and difficult mule- 
tracks. Mate can bear a cost of transport that would 
be fatal to timber. At the point where these tracks 
reach the river, the river-steamers stop at the foot of a 
shed that is almost hidden in the foliage. These are 
the " ladders " of the yerbales. 

Work in the yerbales lasts six months out of the 
twelve. The pruners who collect the bunches of 
leaves and bring them to the furnaces, where they are 
dried, include Brazilians, Paraguayans and Argentinians. 
The Brazilians go to the yerbal to offer their services. 
The Paraguayans and Argentinians, nearly all from the 
province of Corrientes, are recruited at Posadas and the 
sister-town of Encarnacion, which is opposite to it 
on the Paraguay bank. 

The hiring at Posadas is done according to a traditional 
custom that does not seem to have changed for more 
than a century. The description given by DAzara 
is not yet out of date. " The people of Villa Rica," 
he says, " depend mainly on being hired for the yerbales. 
Tlieyerba industry is sometimes profitable to the masters, 
but never to the natives, who work cruelly without any 
profit. Not only are they paid in goods for the yerba 
they gather, but the goods are put at so high a price that 
it is terrible. They have even to pay for the hire of 
a bill for cutting the mate . . . The natives contract 
as much debt as they can before they start for the 
yerbales, and as soon as they have done a little work, 
they say good-bye to the yerbatero, who loses his money. 
And the yerbatero in turn is exploited by the merchants 
who control him." Before he starts for the yerbal, says 


Robertson, the contractor {hahilitado) gets an advance 
of four or five thousand piastres. With this he hires 
about fifty workers, suppHes their needs, and gives 
them two or three months' pay in advance. The three 
essential and inseparable elements of the mate business 
are the yerbal in the forest, a shop at Posadas for hiring 
and paying wages in advance, and diyerha mill at Rosario 
or Buenos Aires. 

The forestry industry in its various forms is not a 
definite occupation of the soil by man. After having 
stripped the forest, it leaves, and the land is open for 
colonization. Nearly everywhere there is a complete 
separation between forestry and permanent coloniza- 
tion. They do not employ the same workers ; the 
wood-cutter [hachador) and the charcoal-burner are not 
the men who clear the soil. The clearing away of the 
stumps, which must precede agricultural work, is not 
their business, but the work of diggers. At Tucuman, 
where most of the workers in the cane-fields are Santia- 
gueiios, Italians and Spaniards are used for clearing the 
soil. The gangs of Mendocinos who go to cut props in 
the bush round Villa Mercedes will not sign on for 
clearing the ground in order to plant lucerne. 

The history of forestry and colonization is one of the 
most diversified chapters in the general economic history 
of modern Argentina. Round the region of the Pampas, 
the first point where agricultural colonization came 
into touch with the forest belt is the district of the 
older colonies of Santa Fe. There it found the forestry 
industry already long established, on the banks both 
of the Salado and of the Parana. The export of timber 
and charcoal to Buenos Aires and the lime-kilns of 
Entre Rios was at this time one of the few elements 
of economic life which Santa Fe had preserved. The 
colonists did not enter the forest, and did not mingle 
with the charcoal-burners, but they profited indirectly 
from their presence by selling them maize. Later, 



One of the arms through which the flood of the Dulce flows. 

Photograph by the Author. 


Irrigated lucerrtz fiells on the left bank of the Rio Dulce. Zone of modern colonization : a 
contrast with the older farms of the flood-zone. Photograph by the Author. 

Plate X. 


agricultural work spread over the Central Pampa and 
the province of Cordoba, as far as the edge of the scrub 
in all parts of the prairie. Wood-cutting is carried on 
there, on a small scale, everywhere, at Toay as well as 
at Villa Mercedes and Villa Maria. The price of the 
wood he sells is a small supplementary income to the 
farmer, and clearing the soil helps to fill up his time during 
the dead season for agriculture. The lands covered 
with brushwood remained for a long time at a lower 
price than cleared land. They thus formed a sort of 
reserve which partly escaped the speculations in land, 
and on which small owners can find a footing more 
easily than on the Pampa. There is to-day a movement 
of Santa Fecinos eastward and southward in the belt 
of scrub to the south of Mar Chiquita along the line 
from Lehmann to Dean Funes. 

The forest area of the Chaco, in northern Argentina, 
between the Andes and the Parana, seems on the other 
hand to be intended for pastoral colonization. In 
point of fact, the forest of the Chaco, as well as the lighter 
scrub which is its southern extension, can be used for 
breeding without preliminary labour. The Indians 
have fed cattle and horses on it since the seventeenth 
century. The herds find food on every side, both in 
the very numerous clearings {abras) which cross the 
forest and in the forest itself, where the underwood and 
the herbaceous carpet grow fairly thick beneath the 
scanty foliage of the mimosas and quebrachas. 

Over a good deal of the western Chaco pastoral 
colonization is earlier than the forestry. In the district 
of Santiago del Estero the farmers had advanced far 
beyond the wood-cutter and the railway ; beyond the 
Salado, almost as far as the existing line from Ahatuya 
to Tintina, where there are sheets and wells of fresh 
water. The old ranches go as far as Alhuampa. The 
old pastoral population has taken very little part in the 
forestry industry. It has been content to profit by it 
by renting the scrub to the obrajes. It was a sheer gift 



to them, as the felling of a few trees does not in the least 
lower the value of the pasture. The forestry has not 
entailed any change in the ownership of the land or in 
the breeding methods. The obrajes are merely passing 
guests whose traces are quickly obliterated. 

In the eastern Chaco, however, the wood-cutters are 
real pioneers. It is they who have made the conquest 
of the forest, often in direct touch with the Indians, 
and the ownership of the land fell to them. They have 
themselves played an essential part in the actual 
development of breeding. 

Leaving the river and travelling toward the forest 
on the west, one first crosses a narrow belt of estates 
which form an almost unbroken line from San Javier 
to Resistencia. These are old colonies, mostly founded 
about 1870, at the same time as the first colonies in 
the centre of Santa Fe. They had the advantage of 
being within reach of the river-route, the network of 
railways that serves the colonies of Sante Fe not being 
constructed until after 1880. They have not shown 
the same capacity for extension as the colonies on the 
prairie, but they are firmly rooted, on high and well- 
drained land, very different from the clays of the Chaco, 
where the alluvial beds of the Parana alternate with 
stuff that seems to come from the left bank. They 
grow flax, earth-nuts, sugar cane, and cotton. Behind 
this slight agricultural fa9ade are the large estates of 
the factories. In the division of the land the industrial 
firms sought the districts which were richest in quebracho. 
Buyers of land who had no industrial plans — foreign 
capitalists and Portenos — and who obtained large 
concessions in little-known regions, sold back to the 
factories the plots where there was plenty of wood, 
after they had taken stock of their property. They 
converted the remainder into estancias (ranches). The 
district to the north of the Central Norte Railway, from 
San Cristobal to Tostado, where the forest, which will 
presently yield to the plain, breaks into patches and looks 


like a park, includes a number of these modern estancias, 
in which lucerne is beginning to replace the grasses of the 
natural vegetation. 

When one passes to the interior, the pastoral industry 
at once assumes a more primitive character. The 
quebracho concerns themselves go in for breeding, in 
order to make use of their large estates, when the 
timber has been removed but the works have not yet 
been set up. They need a large number of cattle, both 
for moving the timber and feeding their workers, and 
they endeavour to meet their needs themselves. In 
this district the forest is capable of feeding a far heavier 
herd than is the more arid scrub of the eastern Chaco, 
There are often a thousand head of cattle to 2,500 
hectares. To the north and west of that part of the 
forest where the big companies have taken over the whole 
of the land, in the province of Chaco, a fairly large 
number of estates has been created. Further still, on 
either side of the Bermejo, cattle from Corrientes and 
the Paraguay have been put on the public lands by 
men with no rights. As their future is uncertain, they 
cannot do any expensive work, such as making wells, 
reservoirs, and enclosures. Sometimes they are com- 
pelled by drought to fall back upon the river. 

Conditions are quite different in the forests of Misiones. 
The damp forest of Misiones does not lend itself to 
breeding. While the forest-workers on the west of the 
Parana eat fresh meat, thanks to the proximity of the 
breeders, in the yerbales and obrajes of Misiones, the use 
of dried or " jerked " meat {came seca), which is brought 
some distance, has remained the common practice, as 
it is in most parts of tropical America. On the other 
hand, there is now developing in Misiones an agricultural 
colonization of an original kind, quite distinct from the 
ordinary Argentinian type. This is because Misiones 
is a province apart in Argentina. It really belongs, by 
its geological structure and its climate, to the Brazilian 
tableland. The colonies in Misiones are merely an 


extension into Argentine territory of the great belt of 
colonies of southern Brazil, which stretches from the 
neighbourhood of Santa Catalina and the Rio Grande 
do Sul to the River Paraguay. The Brazilian type of 
colonization is based upon work with the hoe, in clearings 
that have been made in the forest by the axe and by fire. 
Ordinary farming would be impracticable between the 
large stumps which the clearers have to leave in the 
ground, to rot there slowly. It would, moreover, be 
useless, as the land, though rich in humus, is light and 
aerated. The red soil, a decomposition-product of the 
diabases which are at the root of all agricultural wealth 
in southern Brazil, covers a great part of Misiones. 
The economic inferiority of this agricultural colonization 
in the forest to the Pampean type which has conquered 
the grassy plains of the Rio de la Plata, is twofold. 
On the one hand, the surface that a man can develop 
is very small. The plots of the Brazilian colonies are 
ten times smaller than the average estate on the Pampa. 
On the other hand, it is difficult to get about in the 
forest, and this hinders the export of the produce. 

The colonies in Misiones are still confined to the edge 
of the great forest, into which they will advance as the 
agricultural population grows. They form two groups : 
one on the river above Posadas (Candelaria, Bonpland, 
Corpus, San Ignacio, and Santa Ana), the other on the 
slopes of the hills, above the line from Posadas to Uru- 
guay (San Jose and Apostoles). Foodstuffs, tobacco, fowl 
and eggs, which they now send by rail as far as Buenos 
Aires, are their chief resources. As it is possible for 
them to reach the big markets of the Pampas, by river 
or rail, they have a certain advantage over the Brazilian 
colonies. On the other hand, the various elements of 
their population are inferior. They are very mixed, 
comprising aboriginals — relics of the ancient Indian or 
half-breed population of Misiones who have got land but 
are in no hurry to cultivate it — Poles (grouped in a few 
villages, such as Apostoles and San Jose), and German- 

<j' 1 l;K- \( Ho TIUXKS J.\l\(; .\ I Till-; siatkjxs. 

Eastern Chaco, on the Resistencia line {Santa Fe province). Here the quebracho is exploited 
for tannic acid, not sleepers. Photographs by the Author 

Plate XI. 

To face p. ii6. 


Brazilians from the left bank of the Uruguay. At the 
present time there is a constant stream of German- 
Brazilians through the province of Misiones, to embark 
at Posadas, sail up the Parana, and settle, further north, 
in Matto Grosso. No doubt it would be possible to 
induce part of them to settle on Argentinian territory 
by offering them suitable land. 

These peasant clearers of the land rarely find means 
to sell their timber. The tropical forest has an immense 
variety of species, but only a few of these are of value. 
The obrajero does not cut down the whole forest ; he 
chooses his victims. In the waste land of the colonist 
it is by no means possible to utilize everything. Even 
in the area where the forestry industry flourishes, 
trunks with no faults, felled in order to make room for 
farming, are pitilessly burned and destroyed. 

Yet the indirect advantages of the forestry to agricul- 
ture are numerous. Just as in the whole of southern 
Brazil, it affords a good market for agricultural produce. 
The crops from the colonies are stored in the shops at 
Posadas, and from there they go to the obrajes and yer- 
bales. In addition, the industry finds work for more men. 
On the Rio Grande do Sul, and later on the Parana, the 
wages paid for collecting mate have long been the surest 
resource of the colonies, and it is this that enabled them 
to subsist during the difficulties of their early period. 
In Misiones the attraction of the yerbales is not so 
strongly felt by the inhabitants. There are compara- 
tively few colonists who are willing to leave their plots 
and hire themselves for distant work. The yerbales 
find their recruits, not amongst the immigrants from 
Europe, but amongst the ancient pobladores ; that is 
to say, men who hold land without a title, whose position 
was recognized when the colony was formed — a floating 
population, not deeply rooted in the soil. 

Agricultural colonization in turn will react upon the 
forestry industry in developing the cultivation of mate. 
Large plantations of ilex have already been established 


above Posadas. Already they enter the common life. 
They are scattered either over the estates of the national 
colonies or over the larger estates of the richer colonists ; 
for planting demands a considerable expenditure. 
Some of them belong to dealers who also work natural 
yerbales elsewhere. They are, if possible, set up in the 
forest, or at least on the fringe of it, in order to have a 
good supply of wood to dry the leaves. Thus the 
primitive industry of collecting mate is undergoing 
transformation while the natural growths are dis- 


The arid tableland and the region of glacial lakes — The first settle- 
ments on the Patagonian coast and the indigenous population — • 
Extensive breeding^The use of pasture on the lands of the 
Rio Negro — Transhumation. 

The northern limit of the Patagonian region passes 
to the north of the Colorado, in the latitude of the 
Cerro Payen and of the ridge which leads from Malargue 
to the Rio Grande in the sub-Andean zone (36° S. lat)., 
and to the Sierra de Lihuel Calel in the southern part 
of the Pampa province. South of this line, from the 
Andes to the Atlantic, on the territory of the Neuquen, 
the Rio Negro, the Chubut, and the Santa Cruz, is 
the region of the sheep farms, their refuge since more 
profitable branches of farming have driven the sheep 
from the Pampa. The extensive breeding practised 
on these poor lands is not profitable enough to justify 
much expenditure, and is therefore all the more con- 
trolled by the physical conditions. It is true that 
cattle-breeding was once undertaken in the Spanish 
settlements of the lower Negro, and still exists in 
western Patagonia at the foot of the Andes, but one 
never finds there the particular combination of cattle- 
breeding and sheep-breeding which is characteristic 
of the Pampean region, in which the main function of 
the cattle is to improve the pasture and make it ready 
for sheep. 

The climate is trying. The west winds are violent 
during the greater part of the year, especially -on the 



coast, and merely relax a little in the winter. The 
mean temperature on the Atlantic coast falls nearly 
one degree for each degree of latitude (14.6° at 
San Antonio, below 41° S. lat. ; 8.5° at Santa Cruz, 
below 50° S. lat. ; and 5.3° at Ushuaia, below 55° S. 
lat.). The summei temperature falls even more steeply, 
but the difference is less notable in winter (21.4° at 
San Antonio, 14° at Santa Cruz, and 9.2° at Ushuaia). 
The low summer temperature does not allow cereals 
to ripen south of the Chubut. In the sub-Andean 
valleys the summer is comparatively warm (16° in 
January at Diez y seis de Octubre at a height of 1,800 
feet), but there is severe frost, especially at the beginning 
of the winter, and no month of the year is quite free 
from it. 

Rain is plentiful in the Cordillera, and on its western 
border : 800 millimetres at Junin, nearly two metres 
at San Martin (which the wet westerly winds reach 
by the gap of Lake Lacar), and nearly a metre at 
Bariloche, on Lake Nahuel Huapi. It diminishes 
rapidly, however, as soon as one leaves the moun- 
tainous region and goes further east over the table- 
land. The whole tableland has a rainfall of less than 
200 millimetres (Las Lajas 180, Limay 150, San Antonio 
180, Santa Cruz 135). It is only south of the Rio de 
Santa Cruz that the rainfall rises once more (Gallegos 
400 millimetres, Ushuaia 500 millimetres). Hence 
Patagonia as a whole is, with the exception of a narrow 
belt at the foot of the Andes, a semi-arid region with 
a sub-desert climate. In the Patagonian Andes the 
rain falls, as on the coast of Chile, mainly in winter. 
Between Mendoza, which has the summer-rain feature 
of central and tropical Argentina, and Chosmalal, 
in the Neuquen Andes, the contrast is absolute. The 
summer months there (January and February) are 
dry, and the rain is confined to the winter months, 
from May to August. It is the same further south, 
at Bariloche and at Diez y seis de Octubre. On the 


Atlantic coast the winter-rain feature is less regular 
and uniform. At San Antonio the heaviest rains fall 
in autumn (April and May). There is a secondary 
maximum in August, and a few more showers in the 
spring (September and October). South of San Antonio 
the winter maximum, which is always marked, is cut 
by a short dry period (July and August at Camerones, 
June at Deseado and Santa Cruz).i In the interior, 
on the other hand, the winter-rain system remains 
unchanged. The predominance of the precipitations 
of the cold season is of great importance to the breeders. 
As a rule, they come down in the form of snow, which 
melts slowly, and the small quantity of moisture is 
at least all absorbed in the soil. South of the Santa 
Cruz the humidity increases, but the rainy season alters. 
At Gallegos the wettest month is December ; at 
Ushuaia, the rains last from September to March. 
The snow-season (May-August) is the dry season, and 
the snowfalls are not heavy enough to interfere with 

The surface of the Patagonian tableland is very 
uneven, though it bears traces of having been much 
worn by the agencies of its desert climate, which seems 
to have lasted through the whole Tertiary Era. Going 
up the Rio Negro, one sees the grey sandstones and 
Tertiary tufas which form the cliffs, on both sides of 
the lower valley. They give place higher up to the 
variegated marls and red sandstones of the Cretaceous 
which form the tableland at the foot of the first Andean 
chains. The core of ancient granites and porphyries 
crops up at places from under the mantle of Cretaceous 
and Tertiary sandstones. The horizon of the pene- 
plain passes from the Tertiary and Cretaceous tableland 
to level masses of crystalline rock, the contour of which 

' This anomaly is doubtless due to the proximity of the sea and 
the respite of the westerly winds in winter. The coast, with its cold 
waters and the land-winds causing the deeper water to rise, has a 
special climate of fogs and mists. These, which remind us of the garuas 
of the coast of Peru, do not penetrate into the interior. 


has been almost entirely effaced. Volcanic eruptions 
have occurred until quite recent times, and so eruptive 
areas are the salient features of the tableland, at 
Afiecon and at Somuncurra, south of the district of 
the Rio Negro, in the ridge on the left bank of the 
middle Senguerr, in the Chubut province. The basalts 
have spread out in sheets, the surface of which seems 
to have cooled not long ago. Basalt flows are found 
as far as northern Patagonia, south of Valcheta and 
Maquinchao ; but their chief seat is in eastern 
Patagonia. They cover the inhospitable tablelands 
to the east of Lakes Buenos Aires and Pueyrredon. 
The Rio Chico and the Santa Cruz cross them for the 
upper two-thirds of their course. South of Coile and 
Gallegos they spread almost to the coast, and the 
Tertiary Pampas in this part are dominated by an 
archipelago of small volcanic cones. 

The tableland is crossed from west to east by deep 
and broad valleys, enclosed between high cliffs, often 
strangled by ridges of basaltic or crystalline rock, 
and very little ramified. The ravines {cahadones) , which 
make breaches in their cliffs on both sides, go only a 
little way into the sandstone Pampa or the lava table- 
land. Only a certain number of these valleys are 
occupied by important rivers (the Rio Negro and the 
Santa Cruz, for instance) which are born in the Andes, 
but receive little addition from the light rains of eastern 
Patagonia. Most of the valleys have only intermittent 
streams (Sheuen, Coile) or are altogether dry and sown 
with salt lakes (Deseado). The west wind is now the 
ruler of this network of fossil valleys. It carves their 
slopes, and brings into them sand, with which it makes 

We must not confuse with these dead valleys the 
long depressions, with no outlet, which are scattered 
over the granite and sandstone tableland {bajos, valles, 
cuencas). Some have obstinately, but wrongly, sought 
in these the traces of rivers that have disappeared ; 


and the hajos of Gualicho and Valcheta have wrongly 
been regarded as the former bed of the Rio Negro 
and the Limay. Erosion by wind seems to have 
had something to do with these depressions. Their 
persistence, at all events, is one of the effects of the 
aridity which prevents normal erosion from moulding 
the surface of the tableland. The chief of them are 
centres for collecting running water. There is a group 
of valleys all round them, and alluvial beds accumulate 
in them. 

The climate determines the character of the soil 
in Patagonia. The rounded pebbles of granite and 
eruptive rock, so often described since the time of 
Darwin, sometimes free and sometimes embedded in 
red sand or limestone, ^ are spread over the tableland 
like aureoles round the masses of rock, and they are 
particularly abundant in the coast region. On the 
Rio Negro they seem to be confined to the vicinity of 
the valley ; they disappear as one goes away from it. 
The progressive reduction in the volume of the Rio 
Negro gravels, as one goes downward, has been observed 
to begin in the Andean zone, and it is from the Andes 
that they come. South of Santa Cruz, in a moister 
climate, in which the circulation of the water is less 
localized, the bed is more continuous, and it covers 
the Tertiary sandstones and clays. It is of fluvio- 
glacial origin, and comes from the destruction of the 
old moraines, before the excavation of the actual valleys. 
But it is the wind that explains the concentration 
of the gravel at the surface. It separates the pebbles 
from the more mobile material about them. Wherever 
the outcrop-strata contain pebbles, the wind eventu- 
ally converts the place into a field of shingle. It has 

' The calcareous flag-stone of La Tosca, which is characteristic of 
the south-west province of the plain of the Pampa, stretches in the 
south as far as the Rio Negro in the coast-district. On the other 
hand, it is almost entirely abseiit a hundred miles to the west, between 
the Colorado and the Rio Negro, along the line of the railway from 
Fortin Uno to Choele Choel. 


done this with the terraces of the Limay. The Tertiary 
marine deposits of the coast region also are rich in 
pebbles torn from the rocky promontories of the shore ; 
hence the extent of stony soils in the coast region. 
The wind similarly strips naked the angular stones, 
of local origin and incompletely worn, round the isolated 
rocks of the desert tableland or on the flanks of the 
secondary ravines. 

On the other hand, the bedding action of the wind 
creates deposits consisting of small and uniform elements 
from the sands of the dunes to the finest dust. The 
lightest particles, caught up repeatedly by the squalls 
and carried to a great height in the atmosphere, go 
beyond the Patagonian region and reach the bottom of 
the Atlantic or the plain of the Pampa. Some of this, 
however, is deposited in the depressions of the table- 
land, where the moisture fixes it and prevents the 
wind from regaining it. These seolian deposits in the 
depressions, a dark-grey clay, which hardens when 
it is dry, but is softened by water, form two entirely 
different kinds of soil. If the depression is closed in, 
or if the circulation of the water is too slight, there is 
a concentration of the mineral salts ; this is the salitral, 
either naked or sustaining a halophytic vegetation, 
which the saline efflorescences cover with a white 
coat during the dry season. If on the other hand, the 
underground waters have a free course, the seolian clay 
forms the mallin. Bushes and fine grasses grow on 
it, and, as they decay, gradually give it a darker shade 
and modify its composition. The soil above the mallin 
is rich in organic elements. It covers the bottom of 
the valleys between low terraces, covered with faceted 
pebbles, and dominated by the vertical cliffs of tufa 
and lava. The contrast between the verdure of the 
mallin and the arid, dusty, yellow steppe of the table- 
land is one of the most characteristic features of 
Patagonian scenery. The area in which mallin has 
been formed coincides with the most humid districts 


in the vicinity of the Andes and round the higher hills. 
On the road that runs along the right bank of the 
Limay, at some distance from the river, on the surface 
of the tableland, the limit between the country of the 
salitrales and that of the mallinas passes between 
Tricaco and Chasico, a hundred miles south-east 
of Neuquen ; it almost tallies with the curve of a 200 
millimetres rainfall. ^ Though the word mallin is 
not used at Santa Cruz, similar aeolian soils are found 
in the western part of the tableland up to this latitude. 
Further south glacial deposits, clays with moraine- 
blocks, fill the valleys, and from Gallegos onward, 
cover the greater part of the tableland. 

On the eruptive flows of recent date the rock is naked. 
The wind carries away the products of its decomposi- 
tion, and the dust accumulates only in the fissures. 
Traffic is difficult, sometimes impossible. 

Toward the west the tableland is separated from 
the Cordillera by a longitudinal depression, though 
the continuity of this has been exaggerated. This 
depression, which outlines the contact between the 
folded zone of the Andes and the flat zone of the table- 
land, is very important from the point of view of 
colonization. Just at the frontier of the steppe and 
the forest, it is the most hospitable part of Patagonia, 
the richest in natural resources. Amidst the glacial 
lacustrine deposits which are accumulated on it there 
rise masses of different kinds of rock which break it 
up into compartments, granitic ridges of laccolites 
exposed to view, eruptive structures that have been 
dismantled. In the south the sub-Andean depression 
forms a broad passage between Lake Maravilla and 
Punta Arenas, about two hundred miles long, enclosed 
between the basalt cliffs of the tableland on the east 
and the mountains of the Brunswick Peninsula and 

' G. Rovereto, " Studi di geomorfologia argentina : la valle del 
Rio Negro," Bull. Soc. Geol. Ital., xxxi. 1912, pp. T01-142 and 181-237 


William IV Land. The bottom of it is a singular 
glacial landscape, sown with lagoons, punctuated by 
scattered hills, with an impermeable soil of drift and 
mud. From Lake Argentina to Lake Buenos Aires 
the elevated tablelands, which rise to a height of 5,000 
feet, back upon the Cordillera, and the sub-Andean 
depression is interrupted. Similarly, between Lake 
Buenos Aires and Lake General Paz the contour of the 
Patagonian tableland is not very marked above the 
sub-Andean zone. The glacial alluvia at the foot of 
the Cordillera rise to the level of the tableland, which 
sinks steadily eastward toward the Genua and the 
Senguerr. To the north, between Carrenleufu and 
Lake Nahuel Huapi, the retreat of the lakes has left 
long narrow beds right in the Cordillera, such as the 
Valle Nuevo del Bolson, the bed of which has been 
taken over by the Futaleufu west of the Cerro Situacion. 
Further east the topographical features of the edge of 
the tableland (the valleys of the Chubut, Tecka, and 
Norquineo) lie from north to south. Hence within 
a space of little more than a hundred kilometres the 
sub-Andean zone has a series of parallel roads, 
communicating with each other by means of broad, 
transverse gaps, which at one time were occupied by 
the lower lobes of the glaciers. The sub-Andean 
depression does not go north of Lake Nahuel Huapi. 
The morphological features of the Patagonian Andes 
begin at 36° S. lat.^ The edge of the Cordillera, in 

« The great mass of the Patagonian Andes differs considerably in 
geological structure from the Argentinian Andes. The Paleozoic 
sedimentary rocks and the lofty chains of the pre-Cordillera cease 
at 36° S. lat. The Mesozoic beds — variegated breccie and porphyritic 
conglomerates, sandstones, limestones, and marls — which form the 
western slope of the Andes in central Chile, pass to the eastern slope 
at 35° S. lat., where they develop in regular folds, in the direction 
south-south-east, obliquely to the general line of the range. These 
folds account for the orientation of the interior valleys, which is 
remarkably uniform from the Rio Negro to the Collon Cura. They 
pass in the south-west under the sandstones of the tableland. West 
of this sedimentary zone, the zone of the sub-Andean granites and 


the Malargiie depression, below 35° S. lat., still presents 
the typical scenery of the central Andes. The dejection- 
cone of the Atuel resembles that of the Mendoza. The 
fringe of torrential deposits, distributed in cones over 
which the waters spread, is due to the rapidity of the 
disintegration of the rocks in a desert climate. Keidel 
has pointed out the part played by the summer rains 
in transporting mobile elements, which the water 
drops as soon as the slope diminishes ; the amount 
of precipitation being too slight to permit the forma- 
tion and spread over the plain of a regular network 
of streams. From the Rio Grande onward the dejec- 
tion cones disappear. The streams tend to become 
permanent, and sink into narrow valleys. The summer 
rains cease, and the water produced by the melting of 
the snows has only a feeble capacity for transporting 
stuff. The soil of the Cordillera is protected by a denser 
vegetation. The first thickets of molle appear in the 
valleys, the first scattered cypresses on the slopes, 
at the Rio Agrio, a tributary of the Neuquen. Then 
the forest invades the mountain : at first, from 38° S, 
lat. to 39° 30' S. lat., a resinous forest of araucarias. 
At length, at Lake Nahuel Huapi, the forest assumes 
the general appearance which it has as far as the 
Magellan region. It is chiefly made up of different 
kinds of beeches. The coihue {Notofagus domheyi) 
is the most conspicuous for about three quarters of 
a mile, rising above an impenetrable undergrowth of 
bamboo. Higher up the domain of the lenga {Notofagus 

diorites, which have not been exposed further north except at the 
base of the western slope, opens out in the Patagonian Andes, of which 
it is the main body between Lake Lacar and the Gulf of Ultima 
Esperanza. In fine, the Patagonian Andes are characterised by 
volcanic formations. They are seen on the eastern slope about 36° S. 
lat., in the lava-flows and ashes of Payen and Tromen. Further south 
volcanoes with acid lava and characteristic cones are restricted to 
the central zone (Lanin, etc.) and the Chilean flank, but flows of fluid 
basic lava cover enormous stretches at the eastern fringe of the Andes, 
and they have spread over a good deal of the Patagonian tableland 
outside the Andean region. 


pumilio) extends as far as the fringe of the Alpine 
forests. The forest does not reach the eastern Umit of 
the lakes. In the sub-Andean depression it is reduced 
to thickets of nirre {Notofagus antarctica) and mayten 
and clumps of calafate (something like myrtles). 

It is on the Alumine, about 39° S. lat., that we find 
traces of glacial erosion, as they spread over the land- 
scape. At present there is no ice on the mountain 
except on the peaks of Lanin and Tronador, but 
from the Rio Puelo onward (42° S. lat.), glaciers clothe 
all the summits which rise above 6,500 feet. North 
of the Aisen they form a narrow, but almost continuous, 
line. From the Aisen to the Calen fiord, and 
beyond the gap of the fiord as far as 52° S. lat., 
the ice spreads in a considerable sheet which in some 
places attains a breadth of eighty miles. The tongues 
of the glaciers reach the Pacific below 46° S. lat., and 
Lake San Martin on the Argentine slope below 49° S. 
lat. In Tierra del Fuego the snow-line is at 2,300 feet, 
and the glaciers which the snows feed, reach as far 
as the fiords and Lake Fagnano. 

Lake Carri Lauquen, on the Barrancas (36° 20' S. 
lat.), which was almost entirely drained in 1914 through 
the breaking down of the natural dam of soft earth 
which confined its waters, is not a glacial lake.^ 
The chain of glacial lakes stretches from the Alumine 
to the Seno de la Ultima Esperanza, and is continued 
southward by Skyring Water, Otway Water, and 
Useless Bay — genuine lakes in communication with 
the Pacific by means of narrow channels. The lakes 
sometimes lie in a narrow and deep glacial valley, 
the bottom of which they fill ; sometimes they 
branch out into the neighbouring valleys ; at other 
times they advance eastward beyond the zone of the 
mountains and spread into round basins surrounded 

* Pablo Groeber, Informe sobra las caitsas que han producido las 
crecientes del Rio Colarado in 1914. Dir. Gen. de Minas, Geol. e 
Hidrol., Bol. No. 11, series B, Geologia (Buenos Aires, 1916). 


On the Central {or Santiago) Chaco mules are used for transport. 

Photograph by the Author. 


These worlds, built by powerful firms, are permanent centres, drawing timber from a great stretch 
of forest, while the saw-mills of the Central Chaco move about freely, to he near the felling sites. 

Photograph by the Author. 


7o face p. 123, 


by circles of moraines. The largest of them include 
groups of ramified fiords, which represent their western 
half, while the eastern half spreads between lower 
banks. ^ 

Pastoral colonization has now spread over almost 
the entire surface of Patagonia. The parts that are 
not yet occupied are of slight extent ; they consist 

' Most of the lacustrine depressions are continued eastward across 
the Patagonian tableland in the shape of distinct valleys. The eastern 
part of the Straits of Magellan is merely a submerged valley on the 
axis of Otway Water. Useless Bay also is continued eastward by 
the hollow which ends in the Bay of San Sebastian. Sometimes the 
waters of the lakes flow eastward, toward the Atlantic, along these 
valleys. Generally, however, the lakes of the western slope are 
drained on the west by means of narrow defiles across the Cordillera, 
or on the north and south by rivers which follow the sub-Andean 
depression and thread them together in the manner of a rosary. The 
valley which joins the lake to the Atlantic is in those cases a dead 
valley, and the iI^ter-oceanic dividing line of the waters is marked by 
the frontal moraine of the old glacier, which confines the lake on the 
east. This arrangement is found, with surprising regularity, from 
the Alumine and the Lacar to the Neuquen, and as far as Lake Buenos 
Aires and the Seno de la Ultima Esperanza at Santa Cruz. The capture 
of the waters of the eastern slope by the rivers of the Pacific across 
the Cordillera is fairly ancient, and certainly pre-glacial. But during 
the Glacial Period the glaciers obstructed the transverse valleys of 
the Cordillera, and the waters of the eastern slope found their way 
to the Atlantic once more. With the retreat of the glaciers the valleys 
of the Cordillera were successively cleared. The lakes, dammed by 
the glaciers, were suddenly released and their level lowered. The 
valleys of the Patagonian tableland were finally abandoned, and the 
topographical accident of secondary importance, which the ancient 
frontal moraine of the glacier represents, came to mark the limit of 
the domain of the Pacific. The freshness of the contours of the dead 
valleys of Patagonia bears witness to the recent date of this conquest, 
which was too sudden or rapid to be called a " capture " in the proper 
sense. It has not been accomplished everywhere. From Lake San 
Martin to Lake Buenos Aires all the lakes of the eastern slope are 
drained into the Pacific by rivers which flow into the Culen fiord. 
But further south. Lakes Viedma and Argentino are still tributaries 
of the Atlantic. They correspond to the zone of the Patagonian 
Andes which is still covered by inland ice. To the north, in the basin 
of the Puelo and the Yelcho, where the trans-Andean valleys long 
ago ceased to be obstructed by ice, the lakes of the eastern slope which 
drain toward the Pacific are small in size. Their level to-day is much 
lower than it used to be, and a network of streams has developed 
east of them, on the earlier lacustrine region, which is now dry. 



only of the most desolate regions in the south of the 
Rio Negro district and north of Santa Cruz. The 
expansion of white colonization began only about 
1880. Until then the interior was abandoned to the 
indigenous tribes and was almost entirely unknown. 
The Atlantic coast alone had been explored. The 
travels of Villarino along the Rio Negro and the Limay 
as far as Lake Nahuel Huapi had left only a faded 
memory.^ North of the Rio Negro, Woodbine Parish 
(1859), making use of the notes left by Cruz, who 
had crossed the Andes and the Indian territory between 
Antuco and Melincue in 1806, was the first to publish 
definite information, to which no addition would be 
made during the next forty years. ^ 

The settlements founded on the coast by the Spaniards 
at the close of the eighteenth century (S. Jose and 
P. Deseado) were ephemeral. Only one of them 
maintained an obscure existence. Carmen de Patagones, 
some miles above the mouth of the Rio Negro. One 
of its chief resources was the export of salt. Expeditions 
for this purpose began on the Patagonian coast about 
the middle of the eighteenth century {Journey from 
San Martin to Puerto San Julian about 1753, Coll. de 
Angelis, V). After the revolution, Buenos Aires finally 
abandoned these costly expeditions by land to the 
salt districts of the Pampa, and was supplied with salt 
by schooners from Carmen. During the war with 
Brazil and the blockade of the Rio de la Plata, Carmen, 
protected by the bar of the Rio Negro, and the Bay 
of San Bias were the harbours in which Argentine, 
English and French privateers concealed their prizes 
and did their repairs after the storms of the Gulf of 
Santa Catarina. D'Orbigny visited Carmen during 
this period of equivocal prosperity. One of the most 

' Diario de D. Basilio Villarino del reconocimiento que hizo del Rio 
Negro en el ana de 1782 (Coll. de Angelis, vi). 

» It is Woodbine Parish who corrects Villarino 's mistake in con- 
fusing the Neuquen, at its confluence with the Limay, with the Rio 
Diamante, known in the south of the Mendoza province. 


curious effects of the hospitality offered to the priva- 
teers was the unloading upon the Patagonian coast 
of blacks, intended for Brazil, who were taken from 
the slave-traders. Thus an unforeseen eddy brought 
to the south of the Pampean region part of the current 
of the slave-trade intended for the sugar-cane planta- 
tions in tropical America. A number of the Carmen 
ranches had coloured workers at this time. 

Breeding, in fact, was just beginning to spread in 
the neighbourhood of Carmen at the time. The cattle 
had been brought by land from Buenos Aires, and had 
multiplied along the coast and the river above Carmen. 
South of Carmen, at San Jose, the cattle had run wild 
after the fort was abandoned. The Carmen herds 
were estimated, before the revolution, at 40,000 head. 
They disappeared during the revolutionary period, 
but were reconstituted immediately afterwards, and 
even during the war with Brazil there was an active 
export of hides and salt beef. Carmen profited mainly 
by trade with the Indians. It lived in terror of them, 
and had garrisons to give the alarm on the routes by 
which they could approach. But this state of chronic 
warfare did not prevent trade. Near Carmen there 
was a group of peaceful Indians who served as intermed- 
iaries with the tribes of the interior, who were jealous 
and hostile. Guides and interpreters were found in 
this colony, and through it came the first news of the 
interior. The traffic with the Indians continued for 
a long time to be of great use to the colonists. In 
1865 the Welsh colony established on the Chubut, 
which had many difficulties at first, was saved from 
complete disaster by its trade with the Indians. 

The indigenous population comprised two groups : the 
Tehuelches, or Patagonians proper, men of tall 
stature, and the Araucans, the Ranqueles, the Pehuenches 
and the Pampas. There was no fixed geographical 
limit between them. The Tehuelches lived in southern 
Patagonia ; but the Araucans advanced eastward 


as far as the Pampas region and southward beyond 
the Chubut. The Indian population of the valley 
of the Genua and the Sanguerr, south of the colony 
of San Martin, comprised in 1880/ and still comprises,2 
a mixture of Araucans and Tehuelches. The Araucans 
were acquainted with agriculture, but, once they had 
tamed the horse, they became mainly a pastoral and 
hunting people, like the Tehuelches. 

In so far as they were hunters, the Indians of Patagonia 
were nomadic. The taming of the horse only made 
it easier for them to shift from place to place, and 
gave them a greater range. Their nomadism has too 
often been regarded as an aimless wandering. They 
had laws, settled by the physical conditions ; and 
we can gather a few of these. They kept away from 
the coastal districts except in winter ; that is the 
season when the rains provide water-courses there. 
It has been observed that names of Indian origin 
are lacking on the coast of Patagonia. The Spanish 
navigators who landed there during the summer found 
the country deserted and the camps abandoned. On 
the other hand, the share of the Indians in giving names 
is very considerable in the interior, as far as the foot 
of the Andes. During the summer the Indians ap- 
proached the mountains, where they found good 
hunting grounds. In particular they chased the young 
guanacos in the breeding season, December and January. 
Popper has indicated similar migrations amongst the 
Onas of Patagonia ; they approach the coast in winter, 
and leave it in summer, to hunt in the interior.3 The 
district of Lake Nahuel Huapi and Collon Cura had 
some attraction from afar. The forest of araucarias 
produced seeds [pinojies) which the Indians went 
to gather ; and they also liked the wild apples which 

' Carlos M. Moyano, " Informe sobre un viaje a traves de la Pata- 
gonia," Bol. Instit. Geog. Argent., ii. 1881, pp. 1-35. 

» W. Vallentin, Chubut (Berlin, 1906). 

3 J. Popper, " Exploracion de la Tierra del Fuego," Bol. Instit. 
Ceog. Argent., viii. 1887, pp. 74-93- 


ripened on the former estates of the old Jesuit missions. 
The clusters of bamboo on the Cordillera provided the 
lances of the Aucas and Tehuelches. 

Lake Nahuel Huapi is the first stage of the busiest 
of the routes used by the Indians. It came from 
the lower Santa Cruz, went up the Rio Chico, and 
from there northward followed the foot of the Cordillera. 
D'Orbigny was told about it : " All the Indians who 
live near the Andes go along the eastern foot of the 
mountains in their journeys, because they find water 
there, whereas they would find none if they went 
by the coast ; in that way they travel from the Straits 
of Magellan to the Rio Negro." The Indian track 
only left the sub-Andean depression between the 
Rio Chico and Lake Buenos Aires, in the district 
where the high basalt mesetias extend as far as the 
Cordillera, and on the Pampa of the Sanguerr. 

From Lake Nahuel Huapi the Indians of the south 
descended the Limay and the Rio Negro, and reached 
the island of Choele Choel, some 230 miles above Carmen, 
where they met the Aucas and Puelches. There they 
exchanged their guanacos hides for woollen fabrics 
made by the Aucas. Choele Choel was the only large, 
purely indigenous market ; the whites never visited 
it. Geographical reasons fixed the site of this market 
of the nomads. In the latitude of Choele Choel the 
Rio Negro approaches the Colorado and the archi- 
pelago of the Sierras of the southern Pampa, which 
mark so many stages on the routes from the Pampa 
to the Andes. To the south the coast-route, less 
exposed to snow than the sub-Andean track, began 
from Choele Choel. The Indians followed this to reach 
the Gulf of San Jorge and the Santa Cruz in winter, 
during the rainy season. Darwin notes the importance 
of the site and the ford of Choele Choel. Villarino 
had suspected it, and had, as early as 1782, pleaded 
for the building of a fort there. By holding this 
point, he said, they could prevent the tribes from 


attacking Buenos Aires, or from approaching the 
Patagonian coast in the district of San Jose.^ 

As far back as we can go, the life of the Indians 
seems to have been deeply influenced by their relations 
with the whites. The Aucas brought to Choele Choel, 
not only the products of their industry, but also objects 
stolen or bought from the Christians on the Pampa, 
The report of Musters, who followed a Tehuelche tribe 
from Santa Cruz to the country of the Manzanas (" land 
of apples "), shows clearly that the attraction of the 
Nahuel Huapi region for the Indians was less due to 
its natural resources than to the presence of the 
Chilean settlements at Valdivia, from which came 
across the passes of the Cordillera certain quantities 
of brandy. 

The Indian never took to cattle-breeding. His 
herd never consisted of more than mares and a few sheep. 
But trade in stolen cattle quickly became the chief 
occupation of the tribes. It would, however, be a 
mistake to imagine that the thievish Indian was 
merely and always a dreaded enemy of the ranches of 
Carmen. They sometimes had recourse to his services 
and profited by his misdeeds. After the Revolution, 
it was the Indians who helped to fill once more the 
ranches of the Rio Negro, bringing runaway cattle 
which had remained in the San Jose district. Later, 
Carmen bought the cattle stolen by the Indians at 
Buenos Aires. From 1823 to 1826 the number of the 
cattle sold by the Indians to the colonists on the Rio 
Negro is estimated at 40,000. Hence the breeders 
of Carmen had, as regards the Indians, alternate periods 
of armed conflict and complicity. 

But Chile was always the great market for stolen 
cattle. Raids {malones) and the crossing of the Cordillera 
by convoys began in the eighteenth century, and con- 
tinued throughout the nineteenth, until 1880, when 

» Informe de D. Basilio Villarino d Fr, de Viedma, Coll. de 
Angelis, v. 


the consolidation of Argentine authority on the eastern 
side gave a more regular form to the cattle-trade. 
The convoys came to a halt at Antuco and Chilian 
from which the Chilean buyers sometimes accompanied 
the Indian tribes as far as the tolderias on the edge of 
the Pampa. The trade in stolen cattle made use of 
all the passes of the Cordillera, from the Planchon 
pass below 35° S. lat., which Roca had covered in 1877 
by the fortress of Alamito, to the source of the Bio Bio. 
The one most used was the Pichachen or the Antuco 
pass. On the tableland the cattle-tracks formed a regular 
network with innumerable strands, spreading over a 
width of about two hundred miles. The most northern 
route started east of the Poitague district and, after 
fording the Salado and the Atuel, and passing the 
aguadas of Cochico and Ranquilco, entered the Cordillera 
at the bend of the Rio Grande. Another track ascended 
the Colorado and then reached the high valley of 
Neuquen. A third crossed from the Colorado to the 
Rio Negro, and, above the confluence of the Limay, 
to the Rio Agrio or the Alumine. 

The first exact information about the range of the 
Patagonian Indians is supplied by a group of bold 
travellers who followed their tracks from 1870 to 1880 : 
Musters, Moreno, Moyano, Ramon Lista, etc. Their 
discoveries had already outlined the geographical 
survey of Patagonia when the campaign of 1879-1883 
opened it to colonization. 

The story of white colonization since 1880 shows us 
several distinct streams of population. The first, 
starting from the region of the Pampa, went from 
north to south along the Atlantic coast, and gradually 
extended its sphere toward the interior. The breeders 
used the sea-route, the ancient Indian track with 
recognized sources of water, to convey their first herds. 
In 1884, the only spot inhabited on the coast between 
the Rio Negro and the Deseado was the Welsh colony 
on the Chubut. In 1886 Fontana reports ranches 


in the Punta Delfin district, south of the Chubut.' 
About 1890 the whole district round the Gulf of San 
Jorge was occupied ; and a little later the stream from 
the north met the stream from the south about San 
Julian and Santa Cruz. The expansion of coloniza- 
tion was less rapid in the interior. Ambrosetti tells 
us of the establishment of the first ranches round the 
Sierra de Lihuel Calel in 1893,2 and at the same time 
Siemiradzki still found few traces of colonization on 
the Colorado. 3 

The second stream of colonization came from the 
Magellan region. It started in Chilean territory, 
about Punta Arenas. It was about 1878 that sheep- 
breeding spread round Punta Arenas, and between 
1885 and 1892 was the most rapid growth of the 
ranches of the Magellan district. North of the Straits 
they occupied the lowlands round Skyring Water and 
Otway Water, then the plateau south of Gallegos. 
They spread along the Atlantic as far as the Santa 
Cruz. In 1896 the limit of the sheep-region was on 
the Santa Cruz about forty miles from the coast. 4 To 
the west, Puerto Consuelo was founded in 1892, and 
in 1896 colonization came up against the mountain 
barrier which the Cerro Payen and the basalt table- 
land of the Cerro Vizcachas interpose between Lake 
Argentine and Ultima Esperanza fiord. 

The spheres of primitive colonization in southern 
Patagonia on the coast still differ from each other in 
regard to density of population. But breeders in search 
of unoccupied land have not hesitated to push beyond. 
In 1895 and 1900 they passed west of the Gulf of San 

1 L. J. Fontana, " Exploracion en la Patagonia austral," Bol. 
Instit. Geog. Argent., vii, 1886, pp. 223-239. 

2 J. B. Ambrosetti, "Viage a la Pampa central," Bol. Instit. Geog. 
Argent., xiv. 1893, pp. 292-368. 

3 J. V. Siemiradzki, Eine Farschungsreise in Patagonien, Petermann's 
Mitteilungen, xxxix. 1893, pp. 49-62. 

4 J. B. Hatcher, Reports of the Princeton University expeditions to 
Patagonia 1896-9 [Narrative oj the Expeditions and Geography of 
Southern Patagonia, Princeton, 1903). 


Jorge toward the basin of the Sanguerr and the Genua, 
(estabhshment of the Sarmiento colony, south of Col- 
huapi, 1897 • estabhshment of San Martin on the Genua 
1900). Since 1900 the population has also advanced 
up the Santa Cruz and the Rio Chico as far as the zone 
of the Andes, and the lagoon which still existed twenty 
years ago, between the district of the Sanguerr and 
that of Lake Argentino, and is easily recognized on 
the maps of the Frontier Commission, has been almost 
entirely filled up. 

The story of colonization in the northern part of 
the Patagonian Andes is more complicated. Im- 
mediately after the campaign of 1883 the valleys of 
the Neuquen were invaded by Chilean immigrants, 
half-breeds of the frontier, who cannot always be 
easily distinguished from pure Araucans. A certain 
number of Chilotes, and even Germans from the 
southern colonies of Chile, were mixed with the half- 
breeds. This stream of immigration had begun before 
the conquest. As early as 1881 Host notices that there 
are at Chosmalal various families of Chilean farmers 
who held their lands from the Indian cacique. During 
the summer they took care of the migratory herds 
from the Chilean plain. Once the country was pacified, 
they grew rapidly in number. It was they who provided 
the manual labour for the placer miners of the Neuquen, 
where gold began to be worked in 1890. The area 
of Chilean colonization extends from the Rio Atuel, 
where Villanueva found Chilean immigrants in 1884, 
to the south of Lake Nahuel Huapi, where Chileans 
were still met by Vallentin in 1906, on the Rio Pico, 
close to 44° S. lat.i South of Nahuel Huapi there is 
no regularly used route across the Cordillera. 2 The 
Chilean colonists of the southern zone came from 

' C. Villanueva, " De Mendoza a Narguin," Bol. Instil. Geog. 
Argent., v. 1884, pp. 171-4. 

* Chilean woodcutters have sometimes got as far as the eastern 
valleys in search of larch, but these were nomads who did not 


the north, therefore, along the eastern foot of the 
Andes. Bailey Willis calculated that there were 
2,000 Chileans in a total population of 3,500 in the 
sub-Andean area from Nahuel Huapi to Diez y seis 
de Octubre, The total number of Chilean immigrants 
may be about 20,000. It is not on the increase, as 
immigration from Chile was suspended from 1890 
to 1895. Since the reconstruction of the frontier the 
Chilean Government has tried to bring back part 
of the emigrants to its own territory. Many have 
gone to settle in the valley of the Lonquimay. In 
1896 Moreno saw traces everywhere in the valley of 
the Collon Cura of the departure of Chilean colonists 
who had left the country. 

At first it was only the Argentinians of the western 
provinces, San Juan and Mendoza, who vied with 
the Chileans for the soil. It is they whom Furque 
found in 1888 at Roca, on the Rio Negro. But begin- 
ning with 1890-95, immigrants of various nationalities 
have settled on the Neuquen and the Negro. ^ Foreign 
capitalists organized their first ranches there. In 
1888, on the other hand, the Welsh of the lower Chubut, 
led by Indian guides, went from the coast to the sub- 
Andean region, and settled in the valley of Diez y seis 
de Octubre. Between 1895 and 1900 the neighbouring 
valleys began to be inhabited, and the colonization 
areas of Nahuel Huapi and the Sanguerr came into 
contact. 2 

The most striking feature of colonization in Patagonia 
is the very low density of population. The Census 

' Furque, " Descripcion del Pueblo General Roca," Bol, Instit. 
Geog. Argent., ix. 1888, pp. 124-132. 

» In spite of their importance we must regard as mere episodes 
in the story of Patagonian colonization the influx of population caused 
on the eastern coast by the discovery of placer-gold at Cape Virgenes 
and on the Atlantic coast of Tierra del Fuego (1884), and the discovery 
of petroleum at Rivadavia (1907) in the course of drilling in search 
of water. Rivadavia is already, with its 3,000 inhabitants, one of 
the chief centres in Patagonia. 


of 1914 gives 81,000 inhabitants altogether for the 
territories of the Rio Negro, the Neuquen, the Chubut, 
the Santa Cruz, and Tierra del Fuego. A well-kept 
ranch of 25,000 square kilometres has only a staff of 
about a hundred men at the most, counting strangers, 
settled on its land ; three hundred inhabitants, or 
scarcely more than one to ten square kilometres. 
This population falls into two distinct classes. One 
is the class of proprietors with regular titles : a rooted 
and stable class. At first the Government granted 
enormous concessions, which were taken up especially 
by English buyers, but it now seeks to break up the 
land, and the plots which it puts on the market for 
new pastoral colonies have not more than 625 hectares. 
This is too small for breeding, no matter how good the 
situation may be, and there will inevitably be, one 
would think, a concentration of estates in the hands 
of a few proprietors. The other part of the population 
occupy lands which they do not own. They are dis- 
placed steadily as the regular concessions are sold to 
new ranches. They live, so to say, on the margin of 
colonization, and are more and more restricted to the 
poorest lands. Sometimes these intrusos or pobladores 
get hospitality for their herds on the land of some 
ranch in return for their services. They have little 
capital, and never make material improvements. They 
take no care to nurse the pasture, and it matters little 
to them if it is impoverished. 

The climate divides Patagonia into two distinct regions. 
In the west, the moist Andean zone is suitable for 
cattle-breeding. About 1870 the Chileans of Valdivia 
hunted wild cattle in the Nahuel Huapi district. 
Similarly the Frontier Commission met large herds 
of wild cattle on the shores of Lake San Martin, which 
were not yet occupied. Sheep do not get on well in 
the moist zone, where the rains have washed out the 
soil and carried away the salts which seem to be indis- 
pensable to the sheep. It is the arid tableland that 


is the land of the sheep. There it has displaced cattle, 
even in the area which the early breeders at the 
end of the eighteenth century had filled with cattle. 
Between the sheep-area and the cattle-area is a mixed 
region, where the two are combined. It extends more 
or less according as the transition from a moist to a 
desert climate is gradual or sudden. It is especially 
important in the districts where colonization is already 
old, as in the Fuegian and Neuquen regions. It is 
lacking in districts where the colonization is recent 
(Chubut and Santa Cruz), where the sheep-breeders 
have had a free run as far as the Andes. The ranches 
of the Cordillera, which specialize in cattle-breeding, 
all have small flocks of sheep for their own use, their 
staff being so small that it does not pay to kill the cattle. 

The sheep-area is by far the more extensive of the 
two. The patches of agricultural colonization are 
very scattered and small on its surface. They are 
restricted to the river-oases of the Rio Negro and 
the Chubut. These small tilled districts have preserved 
a remarkable economic independence as regards the 
pastoral zone, in which they seem lost. Thus the 
farmers on the Chubut exported their wheat to Buenos 
Aires until about 1900, and they still send their bales 
of dry lucerne there. Some of the ranches have 
tilled small oases in suitable places, but these are merely 
intended to increase their stores of fodder ; not for 
their flock of sheep, but for the saddle-horses used in 
watching the estate and the draught-horses used for 

The pastoral capacity of the Patagonian scrub is, 
on the average, from 800 to 1,200 head of sheep to 
25 square kilometres : less than a tenth that of the 
prairies of the eastern Pampa. The ranch fixes its 
residence in the best part of the estate, where there is 
least fear of a shortage of water, and where pasture is 
most plentiful. To this the sheep are brought periodi- 
cally to receive disinfecting baths against the scab, 


and for shearing. These incessant movements toward 
the centre of the ranch cause an almost permanent 
strain on the pasture, and this is one of the chief anxieties 
of the breeder. The area of the estate is divided as 
soon as possible into sections (potreros) by steel-wire 
fences, which enables them to watch over the repro- 
duction and improvement of the flock and make the 
best use of the pasture. Fencing is more advanced 
near the Cordillera, as timber for the posts is found 

Certain districts are still uninhabited on account 
of the lack of water. Some of the sources of water are 
permanent. The water issues at the base of the vol- 
canic rocks, when the underlying rock is impermeable, 
and above the various levels of the marl in the 
Patagonian swamps ; for instance, in the cafiadones 
round the Gulf of San Jorge. Besides this, the rain 
and melting snow leave on the surface of the table- 
land a great number of pools, which evaporate in the 
dry season. These are temporary supplies, the 
manantiales , to which the breeders are reduced over 
large areas of the tableland. Most of the stagnant 
sheets of water which are permanent are saline. The 
proportion of salt in them is very variable, and changes 
in each case according to the cycle of dry and wet 
years. The water of the Carilaufquen was fresh in 
1900, and in 1914 it had become brackish, though 
it could still be used for the flocks. 

Finding permanent sources of water is the first concern 
of the breeder. In some districts he has succeeded in 
tapping sheets of fresh water by means of wells. There 
are none of these wells in the crystalline zones, the 
closed hollows, where the sheets of water are often 
large, but they are always saline. Neither are there 
any in the red sandstone district, the dryest of all. 
In the western region the wells are sunk in the arid 
valleys, along the track of the underground stream. 
Thus the Picun Leufu, the visible course of which is 


lost seventeen miles above its confluence with the 
Limay, may be traced by a continuous line of wells. 
It is especially in the coastal districts that the wells 
have transformed the conditions of breeding. Water 
was first discovered at the foot of the dunes, along the 
coast itself (district of Viedma, San Jose, etc.). Since 
then deep borings have been made over the whole of 
the Tertiary platform on both sides of the lower part 
of the Rio Negro, north of San Antonio. There every 
ranch has its sheet -iron tank, sheltered by a clump of 
tamarinds, with a windmill to fill it. 

All pastures are not equally available in every 
season. Those which are at a height of more that 
4,000 feet in the north, and 2,300 to 2,600 feet in the 
south, are covered in winter with a thick mantle of 
snow. These are summer pastures. During the 
winter the animals are brought down to the principal 
valleys or to sheltered canadones below the level of 
the tableland. The mallin is, as a rule, a winter 
pasture. When it is too wet, however, it is treacherous, 
and the animals are buried in it. They have to wait 
for fine weather before going into it. The pastures, 
too, which have no permanent water supply, or have 
only manantiales , which dry up at the beginning of 
summer, can only be used during the winter. Hence 
each ranch has to have, besides its assured water 
supply, a suitable combination of summer and winter 
pasturage, and it is far from certain that this will 
be found on every estate, cut up geometrically for 
colonization, as they were, by the administration of 

The constitution of the flock and the first occupation 
of the land have compelled breeders to undertake 
difficult journeys, and more than one of these proved 
disastrous. The earliest arrivals, driving their sheep 
along little-known tracks, could not avoid losses in 
crossing the arid parts of the tableland : parts which 
D'Orbigny, translating literally the Spanish word 


On the Chilean side, to the north of the road from Lake Nahuel Huapi. The glaciers come 
down lower on the western side, as the moist winds come from the west, and the rain becomes 
less end less frequent as one goes eastward toward the Patagonian tableland. 



Here the Limay enters the sub-desert tableland. Last trees (cypresses) in the Valley in the 
foreground. Photro^aph by Bailey Willis. 

Plate Xlll. 

To face p. i^z. 


travesia, calls " crossings," ^ When the ranch is estab- 
lished, the breeding does not necessitate any further 
movements of the flocks to a great distance, apart 
from certain special migrations, or " transhumations," 
which I will consider later. It is on each ranch, some- 
times on each group of ranches combined in a single 
estate, that they pass alternately from winter to summer 
pasture. The only transport necessary is that of wool. 
The fleeces, which the west wind has heavily laden 
with dust, are collected in the sheds belonging to the 
ranch, or, in the case of the intriisos, on the premises 
of certain small traders [bolicheros) who are scattered 
over the tableland even at its extreme limits. Convoys 
of wagons then take them to the ports on the coast. 

For some years now, however, wool has ceased to 
be the sole product of the ranches. A little before 
1895 the first slaughter-houses, for killing the older 
sheep that were no longer fertile, were erected on the 
Straits of Magellan. Refrigerators have succeeded 
these, and were opened at Puerto Callegos and San 
Julian. A third refrigerator is being constructed 
(1915) at Puerto Deseado. In southern Patagonia, 
also, part of the flock is sent to the refrigerators or 
to the slaughter houses of the Pampean region. The 
creation of the refrigerator has compelled breeders to 
adapt their work to the new economic conditions. The 
merino breed is being eliminated by the Lincoln in 
all districts which feel the influence of the refrigerator ; 
the Lincoln is of greater weight and quicker growth, 
but the merino survives in arid northern Patagonia. 

Besides this, the establishment of the refrigerators 
has caused important movements of transport. The 
flocks which are to go to the refrigerators or the northern 
railways are moved in the good season, after the shearing, 

• The search for possible routes for cattle in the districts that were 
not yet colonized helped in the study of Patagonia. Moyano was 
doing this when he explored the route from Santa Cruz to Lake Nahuel 


from November to April. The routes they take are 
not invariable. One of the most frequented, leading 
from the sub- Andean tablelands to San Julian, follows 
the Santa Cruz valley. When the land was cut up, 
there was no reason to foresee these movements, and 
nothing was done to facilitate them. The roads cross 
the ranches, which are compelled to allow it. It is 
a serious burden for some of them, unless they can make 
a profit out of their situation on the road by hiring 
pasture for the flocks as they pass. 

The Andean zone itself is still mainly pastoral, but 
it is nevertheless far more varied and richer in possi- 
bilities of development than the tableland. Agriculture 
is already combined with breeding in that area. 

The name vegas, which in the Puna and at San Juan 
means alpine pasture, is applied here to tilled patches 
in the Andean valleys. They are found in the north 
in the valley of the Neuquen, round Chosmalal. In 
the south, the valley of the Rio Pico marks the limit 
of cultivation. Irrigation is almost always necessary 
north of Lake Nahuel Huapi, where the vegas have, 
as a rule, a soil of coarse alluvia or permeable tufa, 
which dries up quickly. Water is plentiful, it is true, 
and increases in quantity rapidly as one travels south- 
ward. The chief obstacle to the extension of cultivation 
is the frequency of frost in spring and summer. The 
deep hollows of the sub-Andean depression south of 
Lake Nahuel Huapi, the height of which drops to i,ooo 
feet at the Bolson, and i,6oo feet at Diez y seis de 
Octubre, have no frosts in summer, and they sustain 
small agricultural communities. At higher levels, in 
the basin of the lake or on the vegas of the Traful and 
Lake Lacar, at an altitude of about 2,600 feet, the 
distribution of the summer frosts is closely related to 
the contour and lie of the land, which may facilitate 
or impede the circulation of the layers of cold air, and 
the play of what has been called atmospheric drainage. 
The valleys which are very open from west to east, 


at the outlet of the lakes, where the west winds have 
a free passage, are little liable to frost. Wherever 
frost is frequent, cultivation has to be restricted to 
fodder plants. The more favoured cantons, which 
grow wheat, rye and potatoes, help to feed the local 
pastoral population, and export part of their produce 
to some distance on the tableland. 

Cattle-breeding is, like sheep-breeding on the table- 
land, practised both by the pohladores on public lands 
and by ranchers who have settled on regular concessions, 
which they have worked up and fenced round. The 
high alpine pastures, above the fringe of the forest, 
are partly used, from December to March, as summer- 
pasture. The forest also serves for pasture ; it is a 
sort of common land, available both in winter and 
summer. Below the height of 3,500 feet the clumps 
of bamboos in the underwood provide shelter during 
the winter and fodder which is not buried under snow. 
The fires lit by the breeders have changed part of the 
primitive forest into a scrub which has been invaded 
by a leguminous climbing fodder, and it has superior 
pastoral capacity to the forest. East of the forest, 
the prairie, which is too much exposed to the winds, 
is not generally suitable for winter-pasture. The 
cattle take refuge in sheltered valleys and in the mayten 
thickets which follow the depressions. Bailey Willis 
puts the pastoral capacity of the virgin forest at 400 
cattle to each 2,500 hectares, 600 for the burnt forest, 
and 350 for the sub-Andean prairies. The essential 
problem in connection with the question of completely 
developing the pastoral resources of the sub-Andean 
region is the problem of transit. There are no roads 
from one district to another and to the higher prairies. 
The fallen trunks which lie about the forest obstruct 
the way of the cattle. Collecting the animals for sale 
and watching them are both difficult. 

It seems that the profit of exploiting the timber 
must necessarily be small. The forest, thinned by 



fire and difficult of access, is partly composed of trees 
that are too old. The lihocedrus has disappeared from 
one-third of it. The larch, which is the most valuable, 
passes into Argentine territory at few places. Saw- 
mills are not so numerous on the eastern slope of the 
Andes as they are in the Magellan area. 

The essential function of the forest is, according to 
Argentine experts on forestry, to control the water- 
circulation. In this land of glacial erosion and recent 
captures, where the water-courses have always a great 
variety of form, and there are lakes to make their out- 
put more regular, it is particularly easy to make use 
of hydraulic power. " White coal" will, Bailey Willis 
says, make a great industrial region of it, and plant an 
urban life in it. Bailey Willis, whose optimism and 
prophetic gift will not fail to surprise the European 
reader, has drawn the plans in detail of a future town 
of 40,000 souls at the eastern end of Lake Nahuel 
Huapi. The Patagonian land will supply the raw 
material of its industries ; timber, leather, and wool. 

One, at least, of the indispensable conditions of the 
development of urban life is fully realized in the 
district of Lake Nahuel Huapi and the Limay. It 
is a remarkable meeting-place of natural roads, and 
its economic value will increase in the future. It 
is the point where the road from eastern Patagonia 
by the sub-Andean depression, from the Gulf of San 
Antonio on the Atlantic, and from the Rio Negro by 
the Limay, and the roads that lead to Chile across the 
Cordillera, meet. The whole zone of the Andes between 
36° S. lat. and 42° S. lat., the latitude of the southern 
part of the Chilean plain, has numerous and easy 
passes. There has always been close communication 
between the two slopes, and people have emigrated 
freely from one to the other. But north of 39° S. lat. 
the passes are rarely lower than 5,000 feet. They are 
covered with snow in the winter, and can be used for 
traffic only in certain seasons. It is not the same 


south of the volcano Lanin. That is the beginning 
of the glacial valleys which go to the heart of the 
Cordillera, some of them crossing the mountains from 
east to west. They have not yet been entirely explored. 
The Bariloche pass, south of the Tronador, by which 
the Chilean missionaries reached Nahuel Huapi in 
the eighteenth century, is no longer used. The Cajon 
Negro pass, west of Lake Traful, through which Bailey 
Willis traces the line of a southern trans-Andean 
railway, was only recently discovered, and the valleys 
which run into it on the Chilean side are not yet well 
known. The two best-known trans-Andean routes 
to-day are the Perez Rosales road, which leads from 
Chile to Nahuel Huapi by the north of the Tronador, 
and further north, the road from Lake Lacar to San 
Martin. Both these have received some attention, 
and the lakes are connected by telegraph or telephone. 
The frequent need to unload and reload makes the 
traffic costly, but it is permanent and is not interrupted 
in winter. The reduction of the export of cattle to 
Chile has cut down the traffic for a time, but it is sure 
to recover. The permanent importance of it is one of 
the facts most clearly written by nature upon the soil 
of South America. 

It is not easy, in the absence of documents, to attempt 
to give for Patagonia as a whole a detailed description 
of the pastoral industry, and to follow step by step 
on the spot its efforts to adjust itself to the natural 
conditions. But the analysis may be attempted in 
regard to the region between San Antonio and Lake 
Nahuel Huapi south of the Rio Negro, ^ the valley 
of the Rio Negro, and the tableland which stretches 
westward between the Neuquen and the Limay. This 
part of Patagonia is now easily accessible, and it is 
entered by two parallel railways. One starts from 

' This was the area studied by the Commission of which Bailey 
WilUs was chairman. 


San Antonio on the Atlantic, and goes westward to 
Lake Nahuel Huapi. It has (1914) reached 
Maquinchao, on the tableland, mid-way across the 
Andes. The other starts from Bahia Blanca. At 
Choele Choel it enters the valley of the Rio Negro, 
and ascends it as far as the confluence of the Neuquen. 
Then it goes 130 miles westward as far as Zapala, at 
the foot of the first sub-Andean chains. Each of 
these lines is ambitious to attract the trans-Andeans. 
At all events, they are in a hurry to reach the humid 
zone at the foot of the Andes, which could maintain a 
busier traffic than the desolate tableland. 

The railway from San Antonio, and the road which 
is a continuation of it west of Maquinchao, cover a 
distance of 320 miles from the Atlantic to the Andes, 
and cross five distinct regions. The first is the coastal 
plain, composed of horizontal marine Tertiary sedimen- 
tary rocks, both of sand and clay. The plain rises slowly 
toward the west, and it attains a height of 650 feet 
at a distance of seventy miles from the coast. This 
coastal platform divides, on the north-west, the enclosed 
hollow of the Bajo del Gualicho from the Gulf of San 
Antonio. Its surface is very even. The gravel on 
it has formed a sort of conglomerate, and in spite of 
appearances, this gravelly soil is not bad for vegetation. 
It quickly absorbs the rain-water, which thus escapes 
evaporation. The vegetation is comparatively rich. 
There are no springs, but the autumn rains sustain 
manantiales in the marly surface, and these do not 
dry up until the spring. During the summer the 
plain is deserted, and there is no water. But the flocks 
return in the winter and remain there until spring. There 
is very little snow, as the temperature is moderate. 
In spite of the density of the pastoral population in 
winter, the pasturage is not injured. The grass grows 
plentifully amongst the thickets. This is because the 
flocks leave the district before the season when the grasses 
flower and reproduce, so the next generation is secured. 


Part of the flocks which winter on the coastal plain pass 
the summer in the south-west, on the high basaltic 
tablelands of Somuncura. However, the whole of the 
surface of the tableland cannot be used permanently, 
or during the entire summer. There is plenty of water 
in spring, when the snows have melted. In the middle 
of the summer the flocks collect round the permanent 
springs, and they scatter once more over the mountain 
pastures during the autumn rains, before they return 
to the plain. 

The second region is that of Valcheta. From 
Aguada Cecilia to Corral Chico the railway follows 
for sixty miles the edge of the outpour of lava from 
the south, which covers the Tertiary clays. In front 
of the basalt cliff the land dips in the north toward a 
closed depression, the Bajo de Valcheta, the bottom 
of which consists of clays impregnated with salt. Ter- 
tiary marine strata surround this hollow in the west and 
north, where they divide it from the Bajo del Gualicho, 
but here they form only a thin skin which covers the 
crystalline platform. The line of contact of the basalt 
and the Tertiary marls is marked by a series of good 
springs, and these give rise to permanent streams, 
such as the Arroyo Valcheta and the Nahuel Niyeu. 
At first they flow in a narrow valley crowned by basalts, 
with peaty prairies at the bottom, then over Tertiary 
marls, and, in the latitude of the railways, they pass 
into a gorge cut through the granites before losing 
themselves to the north in the salitral. A small agri- 
cultural oasis is sustained by the waters of the Valcheta. 

The site of Valcheta has an exceptional importance 
in the story of Patagonian colonization. It marks 
a necessary stage in the Indian track from the Atlantic 
to Nahuel Huapi, which is now followed by the line of 
the railway. Musters halted there. The track from 
Choele Choel, on the Rio Negro, to the southern coast 
and the Santa Cruz also passed by there. It was so 
much used, says Ezcurra, that the hoofs of the horses 


had hollowed it.^ The Argentine village dates from 
1890. At first it lived by supplying fodder to the 
convoys of wagons which carried the wool. The 
railway has suppressed this traffic, and the only outlet 
of the oasis to-day is the small port of San Antonio, 
where the wool is shipped, and where the district is 
unsuitable for any kind of cultivation. 

Like the coast region, the Valcheta district seems 
marked out by its moderate altitude to serve as winter 
pasture. In point of fact, it is used during the whole 
year. The springs do not dry up in summer. The 
streams which flow from the south toward the Bajo 
de Valcheta are permanent. In addition, a few wells 
have been bored in the Tertiary strata. Contrary to 
experience on the coast, therefore, cattle can be kept 
here during the summer. There is less chance for 
the grasses to reproduce, and the pasture tends to 
become impoverished. 

The third zone, 130 miles from the coast, is that of 
the tableland of the Cerros Colorados, where low 
masses of red granite rise like an archipelago amongst 
the Tertiary formations deposited in the intervening 
depressions. In the west its altitude rises from 650 to 
1,300 feet. It is one of the poorest parts of the table- 
land, and the size of the flock is reduced to 600 head 
to the square league. The naked rock crops up, not 
covered, as it is further east, by a bed of gravel. In 
the valleys there is little water, and it lies very deep. 
There are no periodical removals of the animals. 
Winter and summer they remain within range of a 
few poor springs, which are caused by various outcrops 
of lava of limited extent ; and they leave these, and 
wander over the tableland, only in the rainy season. 
Beyond the Cerros Colorados the line rises rapidly, 
and at Maquinchao it reaches the basin of Lake Carilauf- 

• Pedro Ezcurra, " Camino indio entre los rios Negro y Chubut : 
la travesia de Valcheta," BoL Instil. Geog Argent., xix. 1898, pp. 


quen. This ocaupies the bottom of a closed depression, 
at an altitude of 3,000 feet, dominated on every side by 
a plateau of lava, toward which, in the south, a number 
of important valleys run (Nahuel Niyeu, Ouetriquile, 
Maquinchao). These valleys rise in the south in the 
basalt plateau, at a height of 4,000 and 4,700 feet, 
and have no running water except at their upper ends. 
South of Carilaufquen they open upon a broad plain, 
round which there is a sombre cornice of lava, about 
350 feet high. Water has collected on the plain, which 
consists of alluvial beds redistributed by wind : angular 
pebbles from the terraces, fine dust from the mallinas, 
and sand from the dunes round the lake. 

This region is much better than that of the Cerros 
Colorados. There are many springs at the base of 
the lava-flows, on the sides of the valleys, and it has as 
yet not been necessary to look for the subterranean 
sheets which accompany some of the valleys. The 
elevated basin of the Quetriquile, though it is only 
occupied by intrusos, seems to have a particularly high 
pastoral density, and, I am told, feeds 500,000 sheep. 
In the western part of the region the spring is late, and 
there is risk of snow during the lambing season. There 
are, however, no rams there ; the lambs are brought 
from Maquinchao. This arrangement of special zones 
for the multiplication of the flock enables them rapidly 
to improve the breed. Here again there are no removals 
of the animals to a great distance in order to use 
the pasture. The vegetation of the valleys suffered 
from the continuous presence of the flocks during the 
years of drought before 1914 ; the reproduction of 
useful grasses was prevented. There is, however, 
less danger here than on the Cerros Colorados, because 
the mallinas are extensive, and they suffice for feeding 
the sheep during the periods when the manantiales of the 
tableland dry up, and the animals are confined to the 

The fifth region comprises the high ridge which divides 


the basin of the Caiilaufquen from Nahuel Huapi, 
the water of which flows northward toward the Limay 
and southward toward the Chubut : successive eruptions 
have covered the surface with lava and ash, which at 
Afiecon rise to a height of 6,700 feet. The granite 
platform which emerges in the north, at the Cerro 
Aspero and the Quadradito, rises to a height of 4,400 
and 4,700 feet, and in some places presents a bold and 
rejuvenated aspect. The whole has been cut up in 
all directions by erosion, and it affords comparatively 
easy means of getting about, which the Indian tracks 
have followed. Below the higher slopes the valleys 
deepen into gorges, and these broaden out in the soft 
tufa and are lost at the cross-streams of lava or the 
outcrops of the granite. In so varied a land, with 
such marked differences of altitude, the winter and 
summer pastures are always close together. Precip- 
itation is more plentiful than at a distance from the 
Cordillera ; the pasturage is richer, and the size of the 
flock rises to 1,600 sheep to the league. The sheep 
pass the winter on the lower slopes, where they are 
sheltered from the winds and the snow. They descend 
to the mallin when the dry season sets in and makes 
the soil firm. In summer they go on to the 
tablelands, where the pastures extend to a height of 
5,000 feet. 

Bailey Willis, studying the improvements that might 
be made in the pastoral processes, concluded that the 
essential point was to use each pasturage in its best 
season, and establish a carefully considered rotation on 
the various lands. This system, which alone would 
enable them to nurse the natural resources of the 
scrub in the way of plants for fodder, is used to-day in 
only a small number of districts — in the east, where 
the flocks winter on the coastal plain and spend the 
summer on the Somuncura tableland, and in the west, 
round the Afiecon, where the summer and winter 
pastures are not far from each other. The custom 


ought to be general. The area which ought to be 
reserved for winter pasture comprises the coastal plains, 
the whole of the low-lying district round Valcheta, 
and the lower part of the valleys to the south of the 
Carilaufquen. They are less extensive than the 
available summer pastures, but their capacity could 
be enlarged by developing the irrigated areas in the 
Bajo de Valcheta, and sowing lucerne in the mallinas 
of the basin of the Carilaufquen. The low valleys 
round the Carilaufquen ought to be reserved for winter 
pasture. In the summer the sheep would be taken 
south to the higher-level valleys, which afford permanent 
pasture. From there they would spread after the 
melting of the snow, and after the first rains in autumn, 
over the high tablelands which surround them. 

This plan is obstructed in the first place by the 
actual terms of ownership, which were imprudently 
fixed before the examination of the country in detail 
had been concluded. Thus the Maquinchao ranch, 
in the lower valley, does not own the upper valley with 
the summer pastures that ought to belong to it. A 
more serious obstacle is that it is extremely difficult 
to remove the sheep. It is not merely roads that 
are wanting, but a water supply at the various 
stages. I 

Between the railway that runs from San Antonio 
to Lake Nahuel Huapi and the Rio Negro, there is 
a desert region about seventy miles in width. Red 
sandstone predominates in it, and it remains uninhabited. 
North of this travesia the valley of the Rio Negro opens. 
Its width between Neuquen and Patagones ranges from 
five to fifteen miles. Its slope diminishes gradually 
toward the bottom (from 0*67 to 0*49 per 1,000 above 
Chelf aro ; from 0*45 to 0*29 per 1,000 above Conesa). 

' The district of the Rio Negro is not the only part of Patagonia 
which faces the problem of increasing the winter pasture. Attention 
has been drawn to the possibility of enlarging the lucerne farms in 
the district of Colonia Sarmiento, south of Lake Musters, and making 
this a great wintering area for the Santa Cruz flocks. 


The sandstone and marl cliffs which enclose it become 
gradually lower as one goes downward. They dominate 
the valley at a height of 650 feet at the confluence of the 
Neuquen, and are only 100 to 130 feet high at Patagones. 
At the foot of them are broad terraces cut by dissymetri- 
cal ravines, in which the beds of sandstone outcrop on 
the western slope, exposed to the winds, while the eastern 
slopes are covered with gravel. On the banks of the 
river there is a strip about two miles wide with abundant 
herbaceous vegetation between lines of willows. 
This is covered by the normal floods. The remainder 
of the river plain, to the foot of the cliffs, has only a 
thin scrub, with dunes at intervals. Saline clays here 
overlie the river gravels. The level of the under- 
ground water, which is fed by the river, sinks lower 
as one goes from the banks toward the cliffs. Few 
parts of the tableland have so desolate an aspect as 
the bottom of these great Patagonian valleys, when they 
have not been transformed by irrigation. The pastur- 
age is poor. At Conesa, however, the valley (casta) 
is used as summer pasture when there is a shortage 
of water on the surrounding tableland (planeza). 

The water-supply is good, the volume of the river 
ranging from 200 to 900 cubic metres a second. Low 
water lasts from February to April (end of the summer). 
From May to July the river has sudden and violent 
floods — an effect of the autumn rains. The curve 
sinks again in August and September, to rise once 
more in October and December, when the snow melts 
on the Andes. The Limay, the upper basin of which 
contains large, lacustrine sheets, is more regular than 
the Neuquen, which has very pronounced low-water, 
as well as dangerous floods in the autumn. The first 
attempts at irrigation date from 1885, when the canal 
of the Roca colony was dug. Others were made lower 
down at a later date. The co-operative groups organized 
for the administration of the canals have not been quite 
as successful as might have been expected. The 

"'2^*4^pi^Eir' ^«- 

(Plate XIV. 


Indigenous Vegetation. Rocks eroded by wind. 

Photographs by Windhausen, Mining Division. 

To face p. 154, 


advance of agricultural colonization has been slow. 
Costly preparatory work is needed to level the ground 
and organize the drainage, otherwise saline patches 
form and spread like leprosy at the expense of the 
cultivable areas. Lastly, the centre of the valley is 
exposed to floods. ^ 

The chief crops are lucerne, cereals, and the vine. 
All the efforts and hopes of the colonists are now centred 
upon the vine. It is for the purpose of extending the 
vineyards that they are endeavouring to secure more 
workers. These are a singularly mixed lot, Chileans 
from the Neuquen rubbing shoulders with Latin immi- 
grants (Italian and Spanish) from the region of the 

The lucerne is made up in bales and exported by rail 
to Bahia Blanca and Buenos Aires. The economic 
life of the agricultural oasis of the Rio Negro is no more 
connected with that of the pastoral tableland than is 
life on the Chubut. Neither sheep nor cattle are 
fattened on the Rio Negro. It is a curious contrast 
to the spectacle offered by the Andean regions of western 
and north-western Argentina, where for generations 
there has been a close association between the breeding 
industry of the scrub and the fattening on the lucerne- 
farms. This is because the currents of the cattle-trade 
are not here as permanent and stable as they are in 
the north. The time when the convoys of Pampean 
cattle bound for Chile used the valley of the Rio Negro 
preceded the agricultural colonization of the banks 
of the river. The conquest of Patagonia put an end 
to this traffic. There was an interval of twenty-five 
years between the period of the export of Pampean 

■ The work now (1914) in hand will reduce the risk of floods, and 
will enable them to enlarge considerably the extent of the tilled land. 
The Cuenca Vidal, which opens amongst the sandstone, below the 
level of the valley, on the tableland to the north of the Neuquen, 
will be arranged so as to absorb the flood-water, and it will feed a 
canal which will serve the left bank over an area of 100 miles. The 
waters of the Limay will be available for the lower valley. 


cattle to Chile and the export of cattle from the Neuquen 
to Buenos Aires, to which I will refer presently. As 
to sheep-breeding, it did not for a long time rear the 
animals for the meat-market, and it is only a few years 
since it found transport necessary. The farmers of 
the Rio Negro, who have little capital, and who sell 
and are paid in advance for their dry fodder, have not 
yet been able to take advantage of the reorganization 
of the cattle-trade. 

West of the confluence of the Neuquen and the Limay 
the railway ascends the sandstone tableland, from 1,700 
to 3,000 feet high, and goes as far as the foot of the first 
sub-Andean chain, the Zapala ranch. The eruptive 
rocks here have thrown up the sandstone, and the profiles 
raised north and south of Zapala, across the Sierra de 
la Vaca Muerta and the Cerro Lotena, cut through folds 
of Mesozoic strata which have been reduced by erosion 
to the level of the plateau. One already feels the 
vicinity of the Cordillera. Pasture is plentiful, the mallin 
is thick, and springs abound. The sheep-area stretches 
westward of Zapala, as far as the Rio Cataluin and the 
Rio Agrio. East of Zapala, on the other hand, the 
desolate condition of the country gets worse and worse. 
The supplies of water dry up in the summer, and the 
entire zone that lies east of 70° W. long, is useless, 
on account of the lack of permanent water, except as 
winter commonage. Hence, transhumation is here 
indispensable. It has been practised for a long time 
on the Chilean slope of the Cordillera from the latitude 
of Coquimbo and San Juan to the north of Lake Quillen. 
At present it tends to disappear from the Andes of 
the Neuquen. I But there is still transhumation on 

' As a matter of fact, of recent years there has been a practice on 
this slope of disguising the smuggling of animals under the name of 
" transhumation," as the removal of the sheep facilitated it and helped 
to maintain it. The shepherds got certificates exaggerating the 
number of their sheep from the Chilean officials before they crossed 
the frontier, and under cover of these they came back to Chile with 
additions to their flocks which they had bought on Argentine territory. 


the Argentine side. The sheep of the plateau, driven 
from their winter pasture when the water dries up, 
ascend the Cordillera. Sometimes the mountains are 
are not yet free from snow. In that case the journey 
is delayed, and the sheep feed on the way, to the great 
detriment of the land they cross. 

There are many routes, and frequently they coincide 
with those which were formerly taken by the cattle 
of the Pampas in ascending to the passes of the Cordillera. 
Groeber mentions a transhumation track south of 
the Rio Barrancas and Lake Carri Lauquen. From 
the left bank of the Neuquen the flocks ascend by 
Chosmalal and Butamallin to the pasture of the Pichachen 
pass, or by Las Lajas to the Pino Hachado pass. From 
Zapala and the tableland further south they go to spend 
the summer in the Cataluin Cordillera, where the number 
of sheep in summer is calculated to be 70,000. Others 
go still further, to the source of the Alumine and the 
Arco pass. The volcano Lanin almost marks the 
southern limit of the zone of transhumation. The 
chief group of migrating sheep comes from the district 
of the Coyunco, the Cahadon Grande, and the Picun 

Transhumation is practised only by the infrusos. 
They go from the unowned lands of the tableland to 
the unowned lands of the Cordillera. The renting of 
winter pasture to owners is quite exceptional. The 
concessions of land granted by the Argentine Govern- 
ment are steadily reducing the area of the migrators 
in the Cordillera, and also the ways of communication 
between the tableland and the mountains. The pro- 
prietors do not care to receive the migrating flocks, 
and they put obstacles in their way by enclosing the 
land. The routes of the transhumation are now 
fixed by the spaces which remain open between the 
enclosed ranches. Moreover, the migrating intrusos 
are haunted by the fear of finding the winter pasture 
occupied by others during their absence, and they 


have no proprietary title. The spHtting up of the land 
and the organization of ownership will before long 
lead to the extinction of the practice of transhumation, 
and the greater part of the winter pasturage will be 
turned into permanent pasture by boring wells and 
nursing the water-supply. 

The district round the Zapala ranch has become very 
busy since the construction of the railway, which has 
deeply affected the conditions of life there. It has made 
a sort of capital of Zapala. It is curious to contrast 
the renaissance which has followed upon the appear- 
ance of the railway in this district with the much less 
material changes which it has made at Maquinchao. The 
life which the railway concentrates at Zapala includes 
not only the wool trade, as at Maquinchao, but also 
the cattle trade. The herds which are to be exported 
gather round the ranch at the same time as the tropas 
of wagons, and a good price is paid for the right of 
pasturage. While the Maquinchao line ends at the 
port of San Antonio, which is merely fitted up for the 
export of wool, the Zapala railway feeds the refrigerator 
at Bahia Blanca. It joins up with the network of 
railways of the Pampa. Sheep arrive at Zapala, not 
only from the surrounding district and from the Neuquen, 
but from a good part of the Rio Negro, and even the 
Chubut. The convoys of animals coming from the 
south find it best to keep near the Cordillera, where 
the pasturage is better. Only a few of them descend 
the Limay as far as Senillosa. From Zapala to Senillosa 
there is no suitable road in connection with the railway, 
and further east it is necessary to go as far as Choele 
Choel to find tracks which lead to it. The exporting 
of the sheep lasts five months, from November to 

Zapala station is also a point of convergence of herds 
of cattle. There are people at Zapala who still remember 
the time when the cattle brought from the Pampa to 
go to Chile passed through their valley. Although these 


exports of Pampean cattle to Chile ceased after 1885, 
the whole Andean region of the Neuquen still lived 
entirely on the Chilean market until very recently. The 
attraction of the Chilean market is one of the reasons 
for the survival of transhumation. It was to the advan- 
tage of the Argentine breeders to keep near the Cordillera 
and the passes through which the buyers came from 
Chile in the summer. The life of the small centres in 
the upper valleys which developed rapidly after the 
conquest (Chosmalal, Norquin, Codihue, Junin, and 
San Martin) was bound up with the Chilean cattle trade, 
and was reflected on the opposite side of the Andes 
in the prosperity of the corresponding markets in 

In the years immediately preceding 1914, a sudden 
revolution upset the cattle traffic on the Neuquen, 
and the attraction of Buenos Aires took the place of 
that of the Chilean market. The commercial influence 
of Buenos Aires was first felt in the wool-market. The 
tropas of wagons which brought wool to Zapala loaded 
up, in exchange, with the flour and salt that were needed 
for sheep-breeding in the pastures of the Cordillera 
{pastos dukes). The import trade followed the path 
traced by the export trade. The small Chilean wagons 
which still cross the Cordillera now only bring to the 
Neuquen the coarse flour of Chile, haricot beans, and 
wine. They return empty to Chile. After the wool- 
buyers, the cattle-merchants of Buenos Aires next 
found their way to the Cordillera. The centres where 
the sales of cattle for Chile used to be held are now in 
decay, and have lost part of their population. The 
cattle are sent to the fattening centres on the Pampa, 
or to the Bahia Blanca and Buenos Aires markets. 
Thus we have under our eyes, unexpectedly, in the 
north of Patagonia a transformation that occurred 
gradually half a century ago in all the western and 
north-western parts of Argentina, In its many forms 
it is the essential fact in the modern history of Argentine 


colonization. The more distant provinces are detached 
in succession from foreign markets, and the whole 
national life is being organized round the great 
economic focus which the region of the Pampas has 


The limits of the prairie — The rains — The wind and the formation 
of the clay of the Pampas — The wind and the contour — The 
zones of colonization on the Pampas — Hunting wild cattle and 
primitive breeding — The sheep-farms — The ranches — The region 
of " colonies " — The region of lucerne, maize, and wheat — 
The combination of agriculture and breeding — The economic 
mechanism of colonization — The exchanges between the different 
zones of the Pampas. 

The Pampean landscape is doubtless one of the most 
uniform in the world. Its monotony is tiring to the 
eye ; it is partly responsible for the mediocrity of 
most of the descriptions of the Pampas. But this 
uniformity is an advantage for the purpose of coloniza- 
tion. Attention has often been drawn to the rapidity 
with which plants and animals introduced by Europeans 
spread in the Buenos Aires district, and, pushing 
ahead of the breeders and farmers, colonized the Pampas. 
In the second half of the nineteenth century, when 
the whole extent of the plain beyond the ancient 
Indian frontier was occupied, the development of it 
was so much easier because it was possible to use 
simpler and more uniform methods of exploitation. It 
needed neither large capital nor long personal experience 
on the part of the immigrant. Basques and Italians 
who had only just landed could take an active part 
in it almost without apprenticeship. The primitive 
groups of population could advance from one zone 
of the plain to another and take with them their own 
methods of farming and breeding, their own form 
of rural economy. 



A close study will, however, enable us to detect 
appreciable physical differences in the Pampean plain. 
Neither climate nor soil is the same all over it. 

The name " Pampa " chiefly means a vegetal growth, 
a prairie. Its limits are the frontier of the scrub 
(monte), and strange as it may seem, it is still difficult 
to trace them exactly. North of Santa Fe, between 
the Salado and the Parana, the Pampa stretches as 
far as Fives-Lille, a little beyond 30° S. lat.^ On 
the Central Norte and the Central Argentine lines the 
fringe of the monte reaches to Fuertin Inca and Malbran, 
about 170 miles north-west of Santa Fe. It then 
turns south-east and south, passing round the entire 
depression of Los Porongos and Mar Chiquita ; and 
the line from Santa Fe to Cordoba crosses it at Francia 
and approaches the Rio Secundo. South of the Rio 
Secundo it goes westward and joins the foot of the 
Sierra de Cordoba south of the Rio Tercero (at the 
stream Tequia). From this point to La Cambre, 
some sixteen miles east of San Luis, the prairie extends 
as far as the edge of the sierras, and penetrates into 
the southern half of the Conlara depression, between 
the hills of Cordoba and of San Luis (Pampa de Naschel). 
The mimosa forest enters the steppe in narrow belts 
along the Rio Quinto to within a few leagues below 
Villa Mercedes, along the Rio Tercero as far as the 
confluence of the Saladillo, and along the Salado to 
the south of Santa Fe. There are, in addition, many 
isolated clumps of chanares and more extensive patches 
of wood in the north-west corner of the prairie (Santa Fe 
province). The monte along the Salado is continued 
south of Santa Fe along the Parana, as far as the point 
where the chief arm of the river reaches the cliffs on 

I On the left bank of the Salado, west of the Resistencia railway, 
a great gulf of low prairie penetrates into the forest of the Chaco in 
the north, almost as far as 28° S. lat., but it has rather the character 
of one of the floodable clearings of the Chaco {esieros) than of the 
temperate Pampa. 


the right bank, at San Lorenzo, This is the domain 
of the ombu, a tree with thick trunk and naked roots 
which is found scattered over the prairie in the Parana 
region as far as south of Buenos Aires. 

In the west, between San Luis and the mouth of 
the Colorado, the transition from the Pampa to the 
monte is gradual. Just as at Santa Fe, the approach 
of the monte is announced by the appearance of chanares, 
in the south-west corner of the Cordoba province 
and on the southern slope of the Sierra de la Ventana. 
The monte, properly so called, though impoverished, 
invaded by the jarilla, and mainly composed (as in 
northern Patagonia) of dwarf mimosas, covers the 
area of the Pampean sierras on the left bank of the 
Chadi Leuvu and the Colorado. Between this area 
and a line passing through Rancul, Anguil, Atreuco, and 
Bernasconi, where the naked prairie begins, there is 
a mixed zone which one may call the calden zone. 
This mimosa, a near relative of the algarroba, which 
has a wider range than the other plants of the monte 
in this latitude, forms woods at intervals in the south 
of the San Luis province and on the flanks of the 
parallel valleys of the central Pampa. Between these 
woods the tableland is generally covered by the prairie, 
with occasional patches of chanares. About twenty-five 
miles east of Buena Esperanza the line from San Rafael 
touches the far corner of a forest of caldenes, which 
stretches south-westward, and reaches the Rio Salado 
about 35° 30' S. lat. Beyond Buena Esperanza it 
keeps on the prairie as far as the crossing of the Salado, 
which here marks the limit of the monte. The Rio Negro 
line passes directly from the prairie to the Patagonian 
scrub mid-way between Bahia Blanca and the Colorado. 

Within these limits the prairie extends without a 
break. The sierras of the Buenos Aires province have 
no arborescent vegetation. 

The zone of the prairie, intermediate between tropi- 
cal Argentina and the sub-desert regions of western 


Patagonia, has a medium rainfall. It decreases 
gradually from north-east to south-west. There is a 
rainfall of 1,200 to 1,000 millimetres on the lower 
Parana, and only 400 to 600 millimetres on the 
western edge of the Pampa. The zone which lies 
between the 800 millimetres and 600 millimetres 
average is more than 270 miles in breadth. But what 
is most characteristic of the climate of the Pampa 
is the equal distribution of the rain throughout the 
year, and the absence of a real dry season. In this 
the Pampa differs from the surrounding regions, both 
in the south-west and the north. At Buenos Aires 
the six months of the (relatively) dry season yield, 
nevertheless, 44 per cent, of the total rainfall, and at 
Bahia Blanca 40 per cent. This regularity diminishes 
in proportion as one approaches the coast. At Rosario 
the six months of the dry season only yield 30 per 
cent, of the year's rain ; at Villa Mercedes (San Luis 
province) 25 per cent. When one goes beyond the 
limits of the prairies the ratio of rain in the dry season 
decreases rapidly ; it is only 20 per cent, at C6rdoba 
and 18 per cent, at San Luis. At C6rdoba, the curve 
of the rainfall indicates a typical tropical regime, 
with a summer maximum and a very low minimum in 
winter. Passing south-eastward from Cordoba, at 
Bellville, Villa Maria and especially Rosario, the 
dryness of the winter diminishes, and at the same time 
a secondary minimum appears in the middle of summer 
(January-February). At Buenos Aires, the form of 
the curve changes completely. The summer minimum 
is almost as low as the winter minimum, and most 
of the rainfall is in the spring (September) and the 
beginning of the autumn (March). ^ 

' Argentine Mesopotamia, which is a continuation of the Pampean 
region from the climatological point of view, is also, even in its northern 
part, without the rigorous dry seasons of the Chaco. Ascending the 
Parand, from Corrientes to Posadas, just as in passing from C6rdoba 
to Buenos Aires, one notices that the winter minimum decreases. 


These various shades of the Pampean climate are 
of essential importance in the history of colonization 
and the spread of cultivation. The belt of summer 
rain is the belt of maize-growing, whereas the cultiva- 
tion of wheat reqmres spring rain and a comparatively 
dry summer. 

While the isohyetic curves, which represent the 
precipitation for the whole year, are orientated from 
north-west to south-east, the curves of rainfall during 
the cold season, from April to September (dry season 
in the north), cut diagonally across the preceding, and 
are oriented directly north and south. Bahia Blanca 
receives in winter as much rain as Rosario, and General 
Acha (in the district of the central Pampa) as much 
as Cordoba. Unless one attends to this, one cannot 
explain the extension of wheat -growing, in the south- 
west, as far as the 400 millimetre curve, and even beyond 
it on the Atlantic coast. 

The relief of the Pampean plain is known fairly 
accurately, thanks to the observations made along 
the railways. The ground rises slowly toward the 
west. The 100-metre curve describes a deep gulf 
some 300 miles west-south-west of Buenos Aires. The 
belt comprised between 100 and 150 metres above sea- 
level is more than sixty miles broad in the latitude of 
Santa Fe, and 130 miles in the latitude of Buenos Aires. 
Beyond the 150-metre curve the land rises rapidly 
toward the west and north-west, and reaches 400 metres 
in the Cordoba district and 500 in the Villa Mercedes 
district. It is at the altitude of 150 metres, and the 
break in the inclination which this marks, that the Rio 
Quinto is lost, near Amarga, south of General Lavalle. 

and a secondary maximum appears in the spring. The predominance 
of the spring rains, which is a characteristic of southern Brazil, is 
conspicuous on the middle Uruguay. On the lower part of that river 
the rain-system approaches that of Buenos Aires, with maxima in 
spring and autumn, a principal minimum in winter, and a secondary 
minimum in summer. 


The ridge between the Pampa and the basin of the Salado 
in the south of the San Luis province is about 450 metres 
above sea-level. South of the province of Buenos Aires 
the Sierras de Tandil and de la Ventana are joined 
together by a ridge which does not fall below 200 metres. 
Certain irregularities of the surface, such as the depression 
of Mar Chiquita to the east of Cordoba, the thrust of 
the plateau on the right bank of the Parana, south of 
Villa Constitucion and San Nicolas, can, apparently, 
only be explained by recent tectonic movements. 

The Pampean deposits which cover the plain rest 
upon a rocky base of which the salient representatives 
are the sierras of the province of Buenos Aires and the 
hills at Cordoba and San Luis. This base also appears 
east of the Pampean basin in the granite island of 
Martin Garcia, in the middle of the estuary of the Plata, 
and in the hills on the coast of Uruguay. ^ 

Underneath the even sheet of the alluvial deposits 
the surface of the sub-Pampean platform is very irregular. 
Its shape has been discovered by deep borings in search 
of arterial waters. It has been warped and cut up by 
faults, some of these deformations being probably 
synchronous with the formation of the Pampean 
deposits which have concealed them as they have been 
produced. A subterranean rocky ridge continues the 
Sierra de Cordoba southward and joins it with the 
sierras of the Colorado. The granite emerges at 
Chamaico, on the western railway, and on both sides 
the borings have passed through great depths of clay 
and sand. 2 This ridge isolates the eastern Pampa from 

' While the Pampean deposits lie immediately on the crystalline 
and Paleozoic formations in the sierras of the lower Colorado and 
of the central Pampa, in the south of the province of Buenos Aires 
and in Uruguay, they are, on the eastern edge of the Sierra de Cordoba, 
separated from it by red sandstones and conglomerates of uncertain 
age, perhaps synchronous with the continental red sandstones of 
Corrientes which outcrop east of the Parana and have been known 
since D'Orbigny's time as " granitic sandstones." 

» At Rancul, in the east, 660 feet of loess overlying red sandstone : 
at Telcn, in the west, 2,800 feet of sand, marl, sandstone and gravel. 


-* t 




Zone of wheat and oats on large scale. The Pampa is a tableland here (400 feet above sea-level), 
with clay overlying the limestone of the Tcsca. The valleys are well marked. 

Photograph by the Author. 



The tableland, with a strong framzwork of limestone Tosca, is cut across by well-marked dry 
valleys which sink lower toward the east. At the edges of the valleys the sand is the prey of 
the winds. Here we are near the limit of the wheat belt. Photograph by the Author. 

Pla.te XV. 


the sub-Andean chains, and marks the limit of the 
area with sheets of underground water. In the north 
of the Pampean region, between the Sierra de Cordoba 
and the Parana, the loose continental formations are 
more than 2,000 feet thick at Bellville, and more than 
3,500 feet north-west of Santa Fe (fodder farms of San 
Cristobal and El Tostado). At Buenos Aires the granite 
has been found 985 feet below the surface. 

The Pampean formation consists almost entirely 
of loose deposits, sand and clays of various sorts. 
There is no gravel. ^ Even in the vicinity of the sierras 
the beds of gravel, with round or angular pebbles, are 
almost always covered by clay, and are exposed only 
in the banks of the streams. Olascoaga mentions 
the surprise of the gauchos of General Roca's army when 
they found Patagonian pebbles on the ground during 
their stay at Choele Choel on the Colorado, in the course 
of the compaign on the Rio Negro. Officers and 
soldiers dismounted to pick them up. Sand and clay 
form a thick bed of continental alluvia. The Tertiary 
maritime transgressions, which have left their mark 
in the clays and limestones of the left bank of the 
lower Parana, and the layers of shells at San Pedro 
on the right bank, never penetrated far into the interior 
of the Pampean region, and one finds no trace of them 
when one leaves the coast or the river. 

The source of the elements which compose the 
Pampean alluvia is very uncertain. Their composition 
does not clearly show their origin. The clays are com- 
paratively rich in calcareous matter, which seems 
to indicate that they do not come from tropical America 
or the upper basin of the Parana. Wright and Fenner 
insist upon the high proportion of siliceous glass of 
volcanic origin which they contain, which points to 

• Roth claims to have found gravel in the San Nicolas barranca 
on the Parand. I have myself found small rounded flints in the clay 
of the Chaco at Tartagal. But these deposits probably come from 
the left bank of the Parana, where the beds of river gravel are con- 


an intense eruptive activity during or before their 
formation.^ Doering had already noticed in the 
Cordoba region the prevalence of beds of volcanic ash, 
which become thicker as one approaches the sierra. 
It is certain that the Pampean sierras have had their 
share in the formation of the Pampean beds. But 
the main mass is probably of Andean origin. However 
that may be, as soon as one gets away from the fringe 
of the mountains, the only variety noticeable in the 
lands of the Pampa is that which they owe to the 
conditions in which they have been deposited. 

River deposits strictly so called, estuary deposits, 
lagoon deposits, asolian deposits, aeolian deposits redis- 
tributed by water, river deposits redistributed by 
wind — all these different types are represented in the 
Pampean formation, but their relative importance is 
still disputed.' 

• In Ales Hrdlicka, Early Man in South America (Smithsonian 
Instit. Bull., 52, Washington, 1912). 

^ Many attempts have been made to classify the Pampean lands, 
but the results cannot be regarded as linal. Ameghino, who is first 
and foremost a palaeontologist, has done a service in showing the 
futility of these geological divisions based upon the actual surface 
of the deposits (colour, fineness, etc.). But even paljeontology gives 
rather uncertain results, as it is impossible to recognize and follow 
step by step the various stages of the movement of the fossils. All 
the classifications of the Pampean are based upon a study of two 
groups of sections. The first group comprises the cliff on the right 
bank of the Parana from Rosario to Buenos Aires and the coastal 
cliff which is a continuation of it, with a break from Ensefiada at 
Mar Chiquita to Bahia Bianca. Ameghino has recognized there a 
thick series of aeolian deposits separated by several discordances, the 
oldest elements of which, at Bahia Bianca, belong to the Miocene. 
The second group comprises the cliffs which enclose the valley of 
the Rio Primero above and below Cordoba. Doering and Bodenbender 
in this case describe two stages of aeolian loess, each covered by torrential 

From the study of these sections geologists have drawn certain 
conclusions as to the movements which have affected the soil of the 
Pampa and the changes which the climate has experienced. These 
conclusions have in each case only a local value, and they have not 
yet been co-ordinated. The majority of the observers, from Doering 
to Bailey Wilhs and RoveretO; seem not to have taken into account 
sufl&ciently the fact that in the continental formations the most diverse 


When we confine ourselves to studying the actual 
conditions in which the deposits were formed, we are 
first struck by the poverty of the hydrographic network 
of the Pampa. It is slight except in the vicinity of 
the sierras, where the slope of the ground is pronounced, 
and in the eastern area, on the right bank of the Parana 
and Entre Rios, where the climate is more humid, and 
the streams flowing over an impermeable soil more 
numerous. The only one of the streams born in the 
Pampean sierras that reaches the Parana is the Rio 
Tercero or Carcaraiia. All the others dwindle as they 
descend, and disappear in a low-lying district marked 
by lagoons which they only reach in time of flood. 
The floods themselves never bring the Rio Cuarto 
and the Rio Quinto and the Salado de Buenos Aires 
into touch with each other. The waters of the northern 
slope of the Sierra de Tandil, and even those of the 
Sierra de Curumalal, on the other hand, reach the 
Salado after the rains, either by way of streams which 
drain the strings of lagoons, or by flood-sheets, which 
spread over large areas. 

The watercourses of the plain are unstable in their 
direction. The traces of their wanderings remain 
in the form of stretches of alluvial sand crossing the 
fine aeolian clays. These river sands sometimes spread 
over extensive areas, the distribution depending upon 
a hydrographic scheme which is now partially effaced. 
The sands of the departments of General Lopez (south 
of the Santa Fe province) and General Arenales (Buenos 
Aires province), where the Salado is now developed, 
were probably brought by the Rio Cuarto, and mark 
an earlier junction of the Cuarto and the Salado. 
These sands run along the Salado as far as the con- 
fluence of the Saladillo, and the contrast between the 
light soil and the clay of the bank of the Parana is so 

deposits may come next to each other in the same series, according 
to the particular process of deposition, and that their alternation does 
not imply a general change in the conditions of erosion. 


striking that the sand has long been regarded as a marine 
deposit, indicating an ancient shore. Along the Saladillo 
also, north-west of the Guamini lagoons, there is a 
sandy belt which corresponds with an important direc- 
tion taken by the actual flow of the river, crossing 
the Bolivar and Veinte Cinco de Mayo departments. 
While the agency of running water in transporting 
alluvia is confined to certain sections of the plain, the 
action of the wind is seen over its entire surface. The 
wind everywhere supplements or replaces running 
water. Like running water, it classifies the elements 
it conveys, and selects them according to their weight 
and size, the finest clays being deposited in the moist 
eastern zone and the coarsest sands in the sub-desert 
zone of the west. The mechanism of erosion explains 
this contrast. The grains of sand that are driven by 
the wind travel at the surface of the ground as long as 
the vegetation is too sparse to fix them. If one goes 
further east, to a moister district with a thicker vegetal 
carpet, the grains of sand no longer move at the surface 
of the ground, but the wind still carries fine particles 
of clay, which it bears to a great height. The bed of 
clay does not at all imply an arid climate, as is said 
sometimes, but corresponds to the region of the steppes, 
with moderate rainfall. It is, however, during dry 
seasons that the deposition of clay is at its greatest. 
Darwin mentions that after the droughts of 1827-1830 
in the area round the Parana, the marks were buried 
under dust to such an extent that one could no longer 
recognize the limits of the various lands. Apart, 
however, from these sorts of floods or storms of dust 
caused by the pampero, the summer atmosphere is 
clearly laden with dust, which colours the skies in the 
east of the Buenos Aires province, as far as Entre 

The contour of the plain bears, like the soil, the double 
marks of erosion by running water and aeolian erosion. 
The rivers of the Pampa, when they leave the sierras, 


flow between high cUffs, the height diminishing as one 
goes downward. Presently these barrancas become low, 
approach each other, and at last merely mark the banks 
of a larger bed which the floods fill. There is no trace 
of valleys. Bailey Willis, surprised at this weakness 
of watercourses that have, nevertheless, an appreciable 
fall, attributes it to the fact that the cycle of erosion 
opened by the last upheaval of the Pampa has not yet 
had time to penetrate into the interior. In reality, 
it means that here we are at the limit of the zone of 
erosion by running water, and that in this climate the 
essential factor in shaping the landscape is the wind. 

The region of the right bank of the Parana (east of 
the Salado), which alone has a complete hydrographic 
network, must be considered apart. From the latitude 
of Rosario to that of Buenos Aires it is cut by flat- 
bottomed valleys which are sometimes a hundred feet 
deep. The excavation of these valleys is due to an 
upheaval which raised this part of the Pampa above 
the base-level. The rapids of the lower Carcarafia 
also bear witness to this resumption of excavation. 
Farther on an inverse movement has put the bottom 
of the valleys below this level, and led to their being 
filled up (lagoon deposits of the Lujanense of Ameghino). 
South of Buenos Aires the upheaval has been less import- 
ant, and the valleys are not so deep. Some of them 
(middle Salado and its tributaries on the left bank) are 
now occupied by long lagoons with steep banks, branch- 
ing along the side-valleys, and these owe their origin 
to the same negative movement, subsequent to the ex- 
cavation of the valleys. The upheaval did not extend 
to the eastern part of the province of Buenos Aires 
south of the Salado, a low-lying flat area, badly drained, 
exposed to floods, the contour of which has been minutely 
studied in connection with the construction of a great 
network of drainage-canals. North of Rosario, on 
the only slightly permeable clay, the water circulates, 
after rain, not by means of valleys in the proper sense. 


but along broad and almost imperceptible depressions 
(canadas) where the current is slow, and the water 
dries up in the dry season. Their general relations are 
not yet known. 

The loose deposits of the Pampean offer little resis- 
tance to erosion. The cycles are run through rapidly, 
and the traces of earlier cycles are faint, and are soon 
effaced. I 

An ancient erosion-surface, dissected by the existing 
valleys, has survived in the south-west of the Pampean 
plain, thanks to the presence on the surface of a sheet 
of hard limestone, the tosca. The tosca is the result 
of the concentration of calcareous elements contained 
in clay at the surface in a dry climate. The formation 
of it implies a prolonged stability of the surface on 
which it has accumulated. Like the deep decom- 
position-soils in moister regions, it indicates a peneplain 
on which erosion has ceased. The bed of tosca covers 
the whole district between the Sierra de Tandil and 
the Sierra de la Ventana, the south-western slope of 
the Ventana, and most of the area of the central Pampa. 
In the north it does not go beyond the line from Buenos 
Aires to San Rafael. Its eastern limit goes almost by 
Ingeniero Malmen, Monte Nievas, and Atreuco, where 
it joins the southern bank of the lagoons of Carhue 
and Guamini in the east.* In some places the tosca is 
about forty feet thick. 

To-day the region of the tosca forms a plateau cut by 
narrow valleys, sometimes 200 feet deep, west of the 
Sierra de la Ventana and in the central Pampa. These 

' Certain features of the hydrographic network clearly have the 
character of having been superimposed : that is to say, the path of 
the watercourses has been bequeathed to the actual plain by former 
erosion-surfaces, which have now disappeared, on which the valleys 
were originally imposed. That is why in the district of the confluence 
of the Colorado and the Chadi-Leuvu the valleys pass from Pampean 
deposits to the crystalline sierras, which were at one time entirely 
covered \\ith water. 

» In the vicinity of San Luis and Cordoba the hard strata which 
are called tosca are beds of eruptive ashes. 


parallel valleys, with few ramifications, generally lying 
south-west to north-east, open to the east upon the 
Pampean plain about the frontier of the Buenos Aires 
province. On the other hand, the southernmost of 
them begin at the foot of the Ventana, and seem to blend 
in the south-west with a general depression that is 
still little known, though it appears to end at the 
bottom of the estuary of Bahia Blanca. None of 
them has permanent running water. ^ The origin 
of the dry valleys of the tosca is one of the most obscure 
problems of the morphology of the Pampean plain. 
Perhaps they are due to aeolian erosion, like the depres- 
sions which are found on the plateau of the Colorado 
and the Rio Negro further south. 

The action of the wind in shaping the landscape is 
more clearly seen in the formation of the dunes. When 
one starts from Buenos Aires or Rosario, and gets 
beyond the region of the level Pampas, the dunes are 
the first feature to meet the eye on the surface of the 
plain. The first fresh dunes are encountered at Carlota, 
on the line from the Rio Cuarto ; at Lavalle on the line 
from Villa Mercedes ; and at Trenque Lauquen on the 
line from Toay. The dunes spread northward as far 
as the latitude of Mar Chiquita, but do not enter the 
Chaco. They are also found in parts of the scrub on 
the west, but their proper domain is the western border 
of the steppe, the upper part of the plain at the foot of 
the Sierra de Cordoba, the south of the San Luis province, 
and the central Pampa. 

Any accident that causes the vegetal covering to 
disappear, such as the tread of cattle near a drinking 
place or an enclosure, is enough to set aeolian erosion 
at work. The wind raises the sand in a sort of tossing 
sea. Then the dune assumes a circular shape. A 

' The surface of the tosca tableland is further punctuated by a 
great number of closed depressions of various depths : long tunnels 
(dolines) which can only be explained, apparently, as an effect of 
the dissolving of the limestone by water. 


depression appears in the centre, and it deepens until 
it reaches the average level of the plain. Frequently 
there is a little lake in it. From this point onward 
the deformations are less rapid. The vegetation again 
creeps over the ground, and the dune falls a prey to 
the rains, which slowly reduce its mass. 

In the central Pampa, where the elevation is consider- 
able, the dunes do not form separate circular patches, 
but stretch in lines parallel to the valleys — sometimes 
in the heart of the valley, at other times backing against 
one of its slopes. 

Far to the east of the zone of the quick dunes, in 
the south of the Cordoba province and the centre of 
the Buenos Aires province, there are certain soft undula- 
tions, covered with vegetation, with a sandier soil 
than that of the plain around them. These are dead 
dunes. The district of the dead dunes is characterized 
by the extreme irregularity of the surface-soil, the 
humus, which gains in richness and depth, as a general 
rule, as one goes eastward, because there it is in some 
places covered by recent asolian deposits. 

The distribution of the dead dunes is connected with 
the stretches of river sand across the Pampa, which 
have offered an easy victim to the winds. A line of 
dead dunes follows the upper course of the Salado in 
the district of Junin and Bragado. On the line from 
Buenos Aires to San Luis one crosses it between Chaca- 
buco and Vedia, and then one comes again upon the 
horizontal plain, which has fresh dunes, only further 
west, at 120 miles from Villa Mercedes. Its elevation is 
so conspicuous on the level plain that the first breeders 
who used its pasturage gave it the emphatic name of 
the cerillada. D'Azara correctly appreciated the 
nature of it. "It is, " he says, " only a dune of very 
fine sand." It is only a few yards high. The dead 
dunes of the Bolivar and Veinte Cinco de Mayo depart- 
ments, which Parchappe described, have a more con- 
spicuous relief, and in their disposition sometimes 


remind us of the fresh circular dunes with a central 
lagoon. The lines of coastal dunes in the eastern part 
of the Buenos Aires province obstruct the proper flow 
of the water there, and form a group apart, which 
must be clearly distinguished from the dunes on the 
plain. ^ 

Thus the impression of monotony which the Pampa 
makes in us is corrected to some extent by close observa- 
tion. High and low land alternate on it. Parchappe 
himself had noticed the contrast between the area that 
stretches from Buenos Aires to the Salado, with its 
soft undulations and its well-developed hydrographic 
network, the horizontal plains on the right bank of 
the Salado, with their irregular dunes, and the southern 
plateau of the tosca between the Sierra de Tandil and 
the Sierra de la Ventana. 

We may now distinguish the following regions in 
the Pampa as a whole : 

I. The central part of the Santa Fe province forms 
what is called the district of the " colonies " : that 
is to say, the domain of the colonies established two 
generations ago, and the zone in which the type of 
cultivation introduced by them took root. The chief 
crops here are wheat and flax. Hedges of service trees 
(paraisos) surround the fields. In contrast with the 
parts of the Pampa which have remained naked, the 
region of the colonies seems a veritable grove. It 

' Outside the districts with quick and dead dunes, a frequent type 
of landscape on the Pampa is a plain thinly sown with very small 
lagoons, generally circular, between which develop a series of barely 
perceptible undulations. The inequality is at times so slight that 
one only notices it by the contrast between the vegetation of the 
lower and the higher ground. This type of landscape, which is 
especially seen in the district of Lincoln or of Nueve de Julio, is due 
to the action of the wind on a plain where the level of the under- 
ground water is near the surface. This level marks a limit below 
which aeolian erosion does not take place : a sort of base-level. The 
periodic variations of level of the underground water reduce or en- 
larges the undulations of the surface. 


stretches westward beyond the frontier of the Cordoba 
province, and it reaches the fringe of the monte between 
San Francisco and Mar Chiquita. For the north, 
Miatello gives 30° S. lat. as the normal limit of the wheat- 
growing area ; beyond this it suffers both from the 
low rainfall of winter and the excessive rainfall in summer. 
As a matter of fact, the large estates only reach this 
latitude on the line from San Francisco to Ceres. On 
the Resistencia line, north of Santa Fe, they stop at 
30° 30' S. lat. In the intervening district the limit 
of the region of the colonies almost coincides with that 
of the department of Castellanos, about 30° 45' S. lat. 
The area lying between this line and the northern 
edge of the Pampa is given up to breeding. In the 
south the region of the colonies stretches as far as 
Las Bandurias and Irigoyen. 

2. South of the region of the colonies, the table- 
land on the right bank of the Parana, west of Rosario 
and San Nicolas, is the maize region, the corn belt of 
Argentina. Flax is generally cultivated as well as 
maize. It is the agricultural country par excellence 
of Argentina. The soil, of fine clay, dark red in colour 
and retentive of moistiu'e, and the abundant summer 
rains, are very suitable for maize. The limits of the 
maize region describe an arc of a circle round Rosario 
with a radius of 60 to 100 miles. They do not quite 
reach the frontier of Cordoba in the west, and they 
leave out the entire south-western corner of the Santa 
Fe province. The maize belt touches the Parand 
between 32° S. lat. and the Baradero. In the north 
it passes suddenly into the region of the colonics. In 
the south, on the other hand, there is at the edge of 
the corn belt an extensive transition-area, where maize 
and wheat occupy pretty much the same surface ; 
it stretches as far as the Rio Salado de Buenos Aires. 

3. The region of the lucerne farms is much larger. 
It comprises the whole north-west corner of the Buenos 
Aires province, from the Salado, in the district of Junin, 


to the southern Hmit of the Nueve de Julio and Pehuajo 
departments, and as far as the latitude of Guamini. 
The limit of the lucerne farms does not include the 
lands of the central Pampa, but advances westward 
and takes in part of the Pedernera department in the 
San Luis province. The lucerne farms run along the 
San Rafael line to Batavia, and at this point they reach 
the limits of the colonized zone. In addition, the zone 
of the lucerne farms includes the whole south-eastern 
part of the Cordoba province, as high up as the line 
from Villa Mercedes to Villa Maria, and the southern 
part of the Santa Fe province. In the whole of 
this area, fifteen to twenty-five per cent, of the 
surface is planted with lucerne. The conditions required 
for its cultivation are a moderate depth of the under- 
ground water and a light soil that allows the roots 
to penetrate easily. The eastern belt of clays is not 
good for lucerne, which survives there for much less 
time than in the west, where it may live fifteen or 
twenty years. 

The lucerne belt is above all a great breeding area 
for horned cattle, as sheep-pasturage injures the lucerne. 
It is not nearly so monotonous, however, as the pre- 
ceding regions. In the south-east, in the Buenos Aires 
province, the creation of the lucerne farms was under- 
taken at a time when agricultural colonization had 
already begun. We therefore find two types of exploita- 
tion side by side. The cultivation of maize enters it 
in the south-west, in spite of the comparatively un- 
favourable climatic conditions. The centre of the 
lucerne area in the south of the Cordoba province 
is also a great agricultural zone ; but there agriculture 
is directly connected with the creation of the lucerne 
estates. It is, in fact, entrusted to colonists who till 
the ground for four or five years, and restore it to the 
owners sown with lucerne at the expiration of their 
lease. The crops consist almost exclusively of wheat 
and flax. Lastly, in the west (San Luis province 



and extreme south-west of Cordoba province) the 
soil gets increasingly more sandy, and the climate 
drier. A single tillage suffices to destroy the natural 
vegetation and clear the place for lucerne. The 
lucerne fields have been created by the breeders them- 
selves, the sole masters of the region, without the aid 
of the colonists. 

4. Beyond the lucerne belt, at the point where the 
plain rises toward the Sierra de San Luis and the Sierra 
de Cordoba, the subterranean water sinks deeper. 
This zone at the foot of the ranges, unsuitable for lucerne, 
yet with a soil comparatively rich in humus, has been 
taken up by agricultural workers. The wheat area 
extends, in the San Luis province, as far as Fraga and 
Naschel, in the Conlara depression. The maize area 
extends to Oncativo, in the Cordoba province, between 
the Tercero and Secundo rivers, where the summer 
rainfall is heavier. Thanks to the nearness of the 
mountains, this area has a water-supply for irrigation, 
and this sustains several small centres of good farms. 

5. The south of the Buenos Aires province and the 
central Pampa are the wheat zone. The bed of tosca, 
which is not far below the soil, does no harm to the 
wheat except in years of drought. The valleys, where 
the tosca is interrupted, and the dunes, where the soil 
is deep, are very carefully used for lucerne fields of 
limited extent. Wheat-growing seems now, both in 
this and the preceding zone, to have reached its limit, 
as the dryness makes it improbable that there will be 
any extension westward. 

6. Lastly, the east of the Buenos Aires province, 
the centre of which is fairly indicated by the little 
town of Dolores, is the only part of the Pampean plain 
which has not been reached by agricultural coloniza- 
tion. The land lies low, and is badly drained. The 
only change that has taken place in the vegetation is a 
progressive improvement due to the hoofs of the cattle 
during their long stays there. This pastoral area is 


clearly limited in the south by the Sierra de Tandil. 
In the north it is continued in the more varied region 
that lies between Buenos Aires and the lower Salado, 
where the alternation of winter pasture on the dry 
lands and summer pasture in the valleys, encourages 
the best methods of breeding, and has made it the 
region of the dairy industry. 

In the Entre Rios province the limit of the large 
estates of wheat and flax is marked by 32° S. lat. 
The part of Entre Rios which extends north of 32° and 
the Corrientes province do not strictly belong to the 
Pampean region. 

Extensive breeding was the first form taken by 
white colonization on the Pampa. The word breeding 
is, in fact, hardly the correct name for an industry 
that mainly consisted of hunting, and was wholly 
distinct from the patient and advanced methods used 
at the same time in the northern provinces. 

" The real wealth of the province of Buenos Aires," 
says Dean Funes, " was, and always will be, the trade 
in hides" [la pelleteria).'^ A good part of the hides 
exported came from the hunting of the wild cattle and 
horses which had grown numerous on the area of the 
Pampa beyond the Rio Salado. 2 It was mainly after 
1778, when trade with Spain had been authorized and 
there was an increased demand for hides, that the 
hunting of these ownerless beasts was taken up. Two 
thousand Spaniards from Buenos Aires, Santa Fe and 

' Ensayo de la historia civil del Paraguay, Buenos Aires, y Tucumdn 
(3 vols, in i6™o, Buenos Aires, 1816, t. iii, p. 214. 

* The number of wild animals and the area over which they roamed 
have often been exaggerated. It does not look as if they ever covered 
the whole of the Pampean plain. A Salter who crossed Patagonia 
and the whole of the Pampa in 1753 {Voyage du San Martin an fort 
de San Julian, Coll. de Angelis, v.) only found wild herds near the 
Salado frontier, and he knew by this that he was close to the ranches. 
At the beginning of the nineteenth century there were no wild cattle 
left on the right bank of the Parand. There were still some in Entre 


Mendoza hunted every day, says D'Azara, killing an 
animal for each of their meals in addition to those they 
killed for hides. From 1775 to the Revolution, the 
Spanish Government made continuous efforts to regulate 
and reduce the massacre of the herds. It laid down 
penalties for every person selling hides that did not 
bear his own mark ; it farmed out the right to hunt 
animals with no mark, and organized the destruction 
of wild dogs, etc. The ranches developed under shelter 
of this legislation. Still, the Revolution did not witness 
the end of this cattle-hunting. D'Orbigny took part 
in 1828 in two hunts of wild horses {baguales) in Entre 
Rios. The Argentine gaucho long retained the ways 
of a hunter rather than those of a breeder in the strict 
sense ; witness Urquiza's soldiers who, says Demersay, 
during the campaign of 1846, when they could not find 
trees to which they could fasten their horses, killed 
cattle and tied the reins to their horns. 

Passing from the hunting country to the zone of 
ranches, one notices that the main work of the breeder 
is to prevent his cattle from running wild. " The 
ranches of this country," said. Dean Funes, " having 
been set up on immense plains, on which it was not 
easy to confine the herds within fixed limits, it some- 
times happened that the animals went vast distances 
in search of water or pasture, and ended by being 
regarded as wild and ownerless." When DAzara 
wants to show that the ranches of Paraguay are superior 
to those of Buenos Aires, he is content to say that there 
the animals are tamer (mansos). With the wild animal 
{alzado) is contrasted the de rodeo animal : that is to 
say, the cattle which are rounded up periodically in the 
centre of the ranch to be taken to the pasture where 
they must live {aquerenciar). It is the difficulty of 
preventing the dispersal of the herd that fixes the price 
of the rincones (surrounded by inundated areas) of 
Corrientes, in which the animals are captives. 

MacKann's description of pastoral life in the Buenos 


Aires province in the middle of the nineteenth century 
give us a very clear impression of the stage of transition 
between exploiting the natural increase of a herd that 
multiplies without man's intervention, and breeding 
in the strict sense. The value of a horse in the former 
case is almost exclusively the cost of breaking it in. 
The breeder is actually anxious when he sees his horses 
increase, as he fears he may not have the resources 
for breaking them in. The most formidable of the 
dangers that threatened the feeble discipline of the 
herd was drought. That in the year 1827 was a disaster. 
The animals left the ranches in a body to go south- 
ward, where they mixed, i 

' The water problem is not as important for the history of coloniza- 
tion in the Pampean region as in the north. Primitive breeding was 
confined to natural supplies of water, lagoons or streams, and to shallow 
wells [jagneles) dug down to the superficial sheet, which is generally 
not deep, but is liable to dry up. As colonization improved, the 
breeder, and subsequently the farmer, were better equipped for boring 
wells, and no longer feared drought. They got down to the deeper 
waters, semi-artesian (Buenos Aires district) or artesian (west of the 
Santa Fe province, round San Francisco). In other places the super- 
ficial waters, which are fresher than the deeper layers, were used by 
adapting new types of filters to the wells (Buena Esperanza district). 
The only two districts where the quest of water offered any difficulty 
are the south-west corner of the Pampean region and the northern 
extremity of the prairie in the Sante F6 province. The sheets of 
water are very irregular there, often saline, and it was a long time 
before the ranches got an assured supply. 

One remarkable circumstance is the importance of the dunes in 
connection with the distribution of the underground water. The 
rain-water accumulates in the dunes and flows slowly through the 
sand to the sub-soil. The level of the underground sheet in the clay 
on which the dune rests is always nearer the surface in the neighbour- 
hood of the dune. The dune itself has often a greener vegetation 
than the land around it. Nothing is more surprising than to find 
at Medanos (west of Bahfa Blanca), in the middle of a plain of arid 
aspect, fields of lucerne and orchards lodged in the hollows of dunes 
that are still fresh. In the whole of the Buenos Aires province the 
dead district of the dunes is, on account of its water-supply, a good 
place for habitation. D'Azara notices the numerous water-spots 
which ran along the foot of the dead dunes of the Cerillada. All 
round were the white bones of the baguales. In the valleys of the 
central Pampa, where the sheet of water in the centre of the valley 
is often saline, the underground water improves gradually as one 
approaches the line of the dunes. 


Revolutions and wars interrupted the work of taming 
the cattle. When Galvez went from the Cordoba 
province to Buenos Aires at the end of the Rosas 
Government, he was struck by the condition of the 
ranches.! Many of them had been confiscated, or their 
owners driven into exile. Cattle were no longer marked, 
and they had become wild. The troubles of the eman- 
cipation-period were much less injurious to the Buenos 
Aires breeders than to those of Entre Rios. The 
Entre Rios herd was almost annihilated during the 
revolution, and some of the ranchers of the left bank 
crossed to the right bank of the Parana. After 1823 
the pastoral wealth of Entre Rios was rapidly restored, 
thanks to raids on Brazilian territory. They were 
so profitable that the whole population took part in 
them. In 1827 the inhabitants of Bajada went there 
in such numbers that the town was half deserted. Every 
day thousands of cattle were collected on the bank 
of the Uruguay, and crossed the river. Some of them 
were even taken beyond the Parana, to the Santa 
Fe province. Woodbine Parish confirms this rapid 
restoration of Entre Rios, of which D'Orbigny was a 
witness. But this period of prosperity did not last 
long. The war with Uruguay, under Rosas, again 
ruined the Entre Rios ranches, and the drought of 
1846 helped to scatter the remaining herds. Extensive 
breeding is only lightly rooted in the soil. The chief 
centres of production change their locality, as the 
political circumstances change, from . one part of the 
Pampean plain to another. 

Primitive breeding affords few examples of periodical 
migration for the better use of pasturage. In 1822, 
in the course of a journey amongst the Sierras de Tandil 
and de la Ventana, Colonel Garcia noticed that the 
Indians kept their cattle round the temporary lagoons 
of the plain in the winter, and went up to the mountain- 

I V. Galvez, Memorias de un viejo (Buenos Aires, 3 vols, in i6™<», 
4th ed., 1889), 


Small circular lagoons. The underground Water, which comes from the Sierras to the north- 
west, here reaches the surface. Zone of lucerne farms. Photograph by the Author. 


The plain is sown with quick and dead dunes, often shaped in a circle round a lagccn. A dune 
invaded by vegetation. Photograph by the Author. 

Plate XVI. 

Tu face p. 182. 


streams in summer. Transhumation movements of 
this kind were difficult for the Creole ranchers, whose 
fairly large herds could not be handled easily. The 
Chascomus breeders, however, at the close of the 
eighteenth century, drove their cattle to the low banks 
of the Salado during the dry season. ^ Garcia also notices 
the importance of the Salado pastures for the ranches 
of Salto, Areco, and Lujan.^ The need to remove 
the herds in the dry season, and to find invernadas 
within reach of the former ranches, was due to the 
change brought about in the natural vegetation of the 
Pampa and the spread of the pasto duke. The annual 
herbs which compose the pasto dulce die and disappear 
after fertilization. Until the autumn rain they leave 
the ground quite naked, whereas the tough grasses 
of the pasto duro afforded a thin but permanent pasture. 

The first improvements of the pastoral industry of 
the Pampa are connected with the development of 
sheep-breeding. Exports of wool began about 1840, 
and made great progress after 1855 (17,000 tons in 
i860, 65,000 tons in 1870). From 1850 to about 1890 the 
economic returns on sheep-breeding were far better 
than on cattle-breeding. During the whole of this 
period the multiplication of sheep farms was only 
restricted by the supply of workers. The first shepherds 
had been Basques, in the south of the Buenos Aires 
province, and Irish, in the north. The owner settled 
them as small farmers in the puestos on the edge of 
the ranch, the central part of which was devoted to 
cattle. They could thus, while they guarded their 
sheep, see that the limits of the estate were respected, 
and prevent the cattle from roaming. 

Wool was for a long time the only product of the 

• Diario de nn reconocimiento de las guardias y fortines que garnecen 
la linea de frontera de Buenos Aires (1796), by D. Felix de Azara (Coll. 
de Angelis, vi.). 

* Nueva plan de Jronteras de la Provincia de Buenos Aires por el 
Colonel Garcia (1816, Coll. de Angelis, vi.). 


sheep-rearing industry. From 1866 onward it was 
decided to use the hides and tallow also. As the 
material of the grease-works was cheap, they spread all 
over the sheep zone. Many ranches had works of 
their own. From 1867 to 1877 the saladeros that had 
been built long before for killing cattle undertook 
the slaughter of sheep on a large scale. The number 
of sheep sold to the saladeros rose to 3,000,000 a year. 
In 1880 the first cargoes of frozen mutton were sent 
abroad. The creation of the grease-works had made 
no difference to the breeding, but the building of the 
refrigerators brought about a rapid transformation 
of the flock. The Lincoln breed, heavier and more 
meaty, displaced the fine-wool Merinos. This substitu- 
tion of Lincolns for Merinos is now complete through- 
out the Pampean region. 

Until 1880 sheep-rearing was concentrated east of 
the Salado, north and south of Buenos Aires, beginning 
with a line that passes through Quilmes, San Vicente, 
Pilar, and Campana, which marks the limit of the 
suburban zone. In addition it had spread on the 
right bank of the lower Salado as far as the foot of the 
Sierra de Tandil, in an area where the first stations date 
from 1823, though the population did not make much 
progress until after 1855. About 1880, after the 
pacification of the Pampa, the sheep-farms began to 
expand westward. It was then that the wool of the 
pasto fuerte appeared on the Buenos Aires market. 
It came from the Azal district in 1870, from Olavarria 
in 1880, from Bolivar in 1885, and from Villegas in 
1890. The Census of 1889 ascribes 51,000,000 sheep 
to the province of Buenos Aires ; that of 1895 gives 
much the same figure (52,000,000). Detailed com- 
parison of the two enumerations shows that the expansive 
movement to the west continued, and was completed 
during this period. The flocks in the north-west zone 
of the province (Lincoln, Villegas, Trenque, Lauquen) 
more than doubled; the flocks of the south-west area 


(Alsina, Puan, Bahia Blanca, Villarino) continued to 
grow, and increased by a third. Those on the lands 
of the central Pampa increased threefold. On the 
other hand, in the departments north and south of the 
Sierra de Tandil, where colonization is older, sheep- 
breeding is stationary. The north-east and south-east 
areas, between the Parana and the Salado, have dimin- 
ished : one losing a fifth, and the other a half, of its 

From 1895 onward the number of flocks of sheep 
on the Pampean plain decreased rapidly. The number 
of sheep had sunk from 34,000,000 in 1908 to 18,000,000 
in 1915 for the Buenos Aires province ; from 2,800,000 
in 1908 to 2,300,000 in 1914 for the central Pampa. 
The reduction was general, and found in every district ; 
but it was not equally great everywhere, and did not 
begin at the same date in every district. Sheep-breeding 
has almost entirely disappeared from the eastern 
belt, east of the Salado, which was its cradle. South 
of Buenos Aires the sheep are giving place to horned 
cattle, and they had almost disappeared by 1908. 
North of Buenos Aires they survived long, but the 
reduction of the flocks has only been the more rapid 
since 1908. This corresponds with the advance of 
maize-growing. In six years the Bartolome Mitre and 
Pergamino departments have lost, respectively, four- 
fifths and five-sixths of their sheep. In the north-west 
of the Buenos Aires province the sheep began to be 
reduced at the time when the lucerne farms were 
founded, about 1900. The decrease has since gone on 
uninterruptedly. The actual flocks represent one- 
fourth of the flocks of 1895. In the south-west (wheat 
belt) there was a rapid shrinkage before 1908, but it 
seems to have almost been arrested since then, thanks 
to the combining of sheep-reaiing with wheat and 
oats. The actual flocks are about one-half the flocks 
of 1895, Finally, in the area north of the Sierra de 
Tandil the sheep retreat before the cattle, as they do 


further north, but they are not so completely wiped 
out as in the lucerne belt, and the flocks are still two 
fifths of the flocks of twenty years ago. 

In the province of Entre Rios and south of Corrientes 
the number of sheep continued to rise until 1908, but 
the increase is only in the northern departments, outside 
the agricultural belt. The southern departments, which 
are large growers of wheat and flax, lost one-third of 
their flocks between 1895 and 1908. 

Cattle-breeding was restricted for a long time by 
the difficulty of disposing of its products. The hides 
alone found ready buyers. The making and export 
of salt beef dates from the eighteenth century, and it 
was to help this industry that the expeditions to the 
salt-beds of the Pampa and the journeys of salters to 
the Patagonian coast were organized. From 1792 
to 1796 no less than 39,000 quintals of jerked beef 
were sent from the Rio de la Plata to Havana. But 
the market for salt meat [tasajo) was always limited. 
It consisted only of the Antilles and Brazil, and the 
saladeros never fully exploited the meat-producing 
capacity of the Argentine herds. The crisis of the 
saladeros occurred before the time when the refrigerators 
began to compete with them. By 1889 there were 
only three left in the province of Buenos Aires. 

Although the price of cattle was not very remunera- 
tive, and provided no incentive to improve the breeding ; 
although the saladero was not at all exorbitant, merely 
asking for animals in good condition, the improvement 
of the herd by introducing selected pedigree-breeders 
had begun about the middle of the nineteenth century. 
The Basque dairies established in the district near 
Buenos Aires sold pedigree-calves to the ranches, and 
these were used for breeding purposes.^ About 1880 
the advance of sheep-breeding pressed the cattle-ranches 

» This is, in a special form, the first instance of specialization, in 
the cantons of the Pampean region, in the breeding industry, 
properly so called (producing breeders). 



back and disputed the space with them more and more, 
within the ancient Indian frontier. The smallness 
of the market for cattle and their shght mercantile 
value were very favourable circumstances for the occupa- 
tion of the new lands, thrown open at this date by the 
submission of the Indians. The herds which found 
no buyers were sent to the campos de afuera. The 
ranches developed very rapidly. Daireaux has very 
accurately described this period of pastoral colonization, 
and the starting of convoys that were intended to give 
a population to the west of the Pampa. Cattle were 
there several years before sheep. As a matter of fact, 
breeders do not regard cattle as having a value of their 
own. They are merely auxiliaries that must improve 
the pasture and prepare the ground for sheep. The 
cattle themselves are preceded by troops of half-wild 
horses which first take possession of the virgin field 
and begin the transformation of it. 

The number of cattle increases rapidly. In 1875 
it was estimated that there were 5,000,000 head of 
cattle in the province of Buenos Aires. In 1889 there 
were 8,500,000. Since that date the variations have 
been comparatively slight. The Census of 1895 gives 
7,700,000 ; that of 1908 gives 10,300,000 ; that of 1914 
gives 9,000,000 ; and that of 1915 gives 11,300,000.^ 
But the value of the cattle has gone up rapidly. The 
exports of live meat, which lasted from 1889 to 1900, 
were the beginning of the rise. It was strengthened 
when the refrigerators ceased to confine themselves 
to killing sheep and began to buy cattle. The exports 
of chilled or frozen beef increased after 1898. The 
value of them rose to 10,000,000 gold piastres in 1904, 
double that in 1909, and more than quadruple in 

' The variations in number are less considerable for the Pampean 
region than for the whole of Argentina. It is better supplied with 
capital than the other breeding districts, and can rapidly replace the 
losses caused by excessive export by buying cattle in the adjoining 


The difference between the price paid by the refrigera- 
tors for pedigree-cattle and the price of animals of 
Creole blood, which the local market takes, hurries up 
the transformation of the herd. In order to watch 
reproduction and nurse the pasture, the ranches put 
up wire-fences. But the breeding methods are especi- 
ally modified by the introduction of lucerne. It spread 
in the south of Cordoba and west of the Buenos Aires 
province from 1895 onward, and from 1905 onward 
in part of the San Luis province. There were already 
small lucerne farms in the Buenos Aires province. 
A description that was written at the end of the eighteenth 
century speaks of lucerne farms round the town which 
were reserved for feeding draught cattle.^ But the 
area from which the cultivation of lucerne started at 
the close of the nineteenth century is the district of 
the Cordoba province that is crossed by the line from 
Rosario to Cordoba, completed about 1870 to Bellville 
and Villa Marina. The lucerne farms there were not 
created by the breeders, and the lucerne was at first 
intended for export to Rosario and Buenos Aires in 
the form of dry fodder. The trade in dry fodder 
has remained good there. The 1908 Census gives 
128 square kilometres of lucerne for cutting in the 
Tercero Abajo department (Villa Maria) and 267 square 
kilometres in the Union department (Bellville).^ 

The lucerne spread southward and south-westward 
from this point ; and the improvement of the herds 
kept pace with it. I have shown elsewhere how this 
improvement was checked north of a line along the 
course of the Parana, the northern frontier of the 

' Fernando Barrero, Descripcio-n de las provincias del Rio de la Plata 
(published by the Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Buenos 
Aires, 191 1). 

» Amongst the specialized industries connected with the develop- 
ment of the lucerne farms we must mention the growing of lucerne 
for seed, which has settled in the dry zones, where the lucerne is not 
so much invaded by other species ; for instance, the district of Madanos, 
west of Bahia Blanca. 



The density of thz hzrd is slight in thi miizz hzlt. It is considerable in the centre and east of 
ihe Pam<3zan region, which supply thz refrigzrators with pedigree stock, of good weight. The 
density is considerable also in thz north of Mesopotamia, but the cattle there are less Valuable 
and are taken by the saladeros of the Uruguay. The presence of the tick., which inoculates 
cattle with Texas fever, is the chief obstacle to the improvement of the herd in the north of 

To (ace p. iSS. 


Constitucion and General Lopez departments, in the 
province of Santa Fe and on the Rio Cuarto, and in 
the Cordoba province, by the presence of the garrapate, 
which inoculates the cattle with a dreaded disease, 
Texas fever. The Creole cattle are immunized against 
the garrapate, but pedigree cattle quickly succumb to 
it. In order to protect the southern zone, where the 
garrapate does not reproduce, the Argentine Govern- 
ment imposes severe restrictions on the transport of 
cattle from north to south ; the cattle have to have 
disinfectant baths at the frontier-stations. This cuts 
pastoral Argentina in two. While the Durham cattle 
of the south are intended for the refrigerators, the 
Creole cattle of the north still supply the saladeros, 
which have disappeared from Buenos Aires, but survive 
on the Uruguay, Yet the advantages of crossing with 
European breeds are such that the northern breeders, 
in spite of the risk and the expense, have not given up 
all hope of accomplishing it. The transformation of 
the herd, however, is bound to be very slow. Pedigree 
breeders are brought from the south and kept in the 
stable. Their progeny, born on the spot, resist Texas 
fever better and can be put out to pasture. There 
has been more progress in the contaminated zone on 
the right bank of the Parana than in Entre Rios and 
Corrientes. Pedigree animals have been introduced at 
Santa Fe, not only in the region of the colonies, but 
further north, in the extreme northern corner of the 
Pampa (San Cristobal department), colonized by ranchers 
from the north of Buenos Aires and the south of Santa 
Fe, who were ousted by the progress of maize. They 
have brought with them to the new lands the cultiva- 
tion of lucerne and the methods they followed on their 
former property. At Corrientes, on the other hand, 
breeding is an historic industry. The staff of the ranches 
is indigenous. The pastoral traditions are unchanged. 
When we study the variations in the numbers of 
cattle in different parts of the Pampa, by comparing 


the results of recent Censuses we find that the number 
has risen rapidly since 1895 in the whole of the eastern 
area, north of the Sierra de Tandil, The increase is 
particularly conspicuous north of the Rio Salado, in 
the dairy district. (Mean density in 1915, 40 to 60 
horned cattle per square kilometre.) In the south- 
west region (wheat belt) the density has always been 
low (12 per square kilometre), and it shows no tendency 
to increase. In the north and western region of Buenos 
Aires (lucerne belt) there has been a rapid increase, 
especially between 1895 and 1908 (creation of the lucerne 
farms), and it has not been interrupted since (density 
50 to the square kilometre). There is the same increase 
in the whole area of the lucerne farms in the Cordoba, 
Santa Fe, and San Luis provinces, where the herds 
doubled beween 1895 and 1908. Only two regions 
have suffered a reduction : the agricultural area of 
the centre (Chacabuco, Chivilcoy), where there has 
been a decrease since 1895, and the maize district (north 
of Buenos Aires), where cattle-rearing did not diminish 
until after 1908. 

Agriculture had begun to develop by the end of the 
eighteenth century in the district round Buenos Aires, 
D'Azara admits the enormous preponderance of breeding, 
but mentions that the right bank of the Parana exported 
flour to the left bank, which was exclusively pastoral. 
Barrero also observes that between the belt of orchards 
and lucerne fields, about a league in width, which sur- 
rounded Buenos Aires, and the area of the ranches, 
which did not begin for six or eight leagues, there was 
an agricultural belt, the district of the chacras de pan 
llevar. The main crop was wheat, and the tillage was 
chiefly done in the rich soils at the bottom of the valleys, 
which are called canadas in the local dialect (cafiada 
de Moron, cafiada du Rio Lujan, etc.). 

It was, however, not at Buenos Aires, but in the 
Santa Fe province, that modern agricultural coloniza- 


tion began in the nineteenth century. It goes back 
to the foundation (in 1854) o^ the colony of Esperanza, 
west of Santa Fe, from which it was separated by the 
strip of forest which follows the course of the Salado. 
European immigrants — Swiss, French, and Piedmontese 
— had settled there. The early years of colonization 
at Santa Fe were difficult, and the colonies did not begin 
to develop rapidly until after 1870. About that date 
we can distinguish three nuclei of agricultural coloniza- 
tion at Santa Fe. The first group of colonies was 
settled in the north, on the bank of the Parana. In 
the centre the Esperanza group advanced steadily 
westward. A third group of colonies lay along the 
Central Argentine railway from Rosario to Cordoba. 
The Esperanza colonists had at first grown maize, 
but the prosperity of the colonies was mainly due to 
wheat. Zeballos, who visited the colonies in 1882, 
describes them as a vast lake of wheat. Wheat pre- 
dominates, not only in the department of Las Colonias, 
west of Santa Fe, where it survives in full strength, 
but further north, at Garay, whence it has since been 
displaced by flax and earth-nuts, and in the south, 
round Rosario, in the belt which is now given up to 
maize. It is for the wheat that the mills of Carcaraiia 
and the granaries of Rosario have been built. The 
land sown with wheat at Santa Fe rose in 1882 to 
102,000 hectares out of a total of 127,000 hectares of 
cultivated land.^ By 1889 the area of wheat was 
quadrupled. It spread like a drop of oil, reaching 
Rafaela and Castellanos on the west. In 1895 the 
advance was still more rapid. Wheat-growing has 
crossed the Cordoba frontier, and spread round San 
Francisco and east of Mar Chiquita (departments of 
San Justo and Marcos Juarez). The agricultural 
regions in the centre of the Santa Fe province and 

' The population of the Santa Fe colonies in 1882 was 52,000. 
of whom 12,000 were in the colonies of the San Javier, north of the 
town of Santa Fe. 


those of the Central Argentine have met, and the wheat 
has invaded the whole of the San Martin department. 
It extends even south of the old colonies of the Central 
Argentine toward the south-west of Santa Fe, in the 
General Lopez department. 

The 1908 Census shows a very different state of 
things. The density of the wheat-cultivation has 
continued to grow appreciably in the whole of the 
northern region, and also in the south-west of the 
province, at some distance from the Parana (General 
Lopez department). On the other hand, it has been 
reduced in the adjoining district of Rosario (depart- 
ments of Iriondo, Belgrana, Caseros, and Constitucion), 
where maize-growing has developed. Maize has won 
part of the wheat belt. 


Las Colonias 
S. Jeronimo 
S. Martin 
S. Lorenzo 
Gal. Lopez 
S. Justo 
M. Juarez 

Wheat Area (in kilometres) . 
1889 1895 igo8 






1. 137 


1. 139 











Maize Area (in kilometers). 





















Restricted in the south by the extension of the maize 
belt, the region of the colonies has now a very distinctive 
character amongst the agricultural areas of the Pampa. 

» The names of departments which belong in their entirety to 
the maize region are given in italics. The department of San Jeronimo 
straddles the maize region and the region of the colonies. The General 
Lopez territory also extends, in the south-west, far beyond the limit 
of the maize belt. 


This originality is not so much in virtue of its crops (hard 
wheat and flax) as on account of the age of colonization 
and the division of property. Most of the colonists 
are owners, and estates of 50 to 200 hectares are the 
rule. The houses are comfortable ; they are surrounded 
by orchards and kitchen-gardens. Moreover, the rural 
economy has been complicated, and it has assumed a 
familiar aspect for the European observer, owing to 
the introduction of cattle-rearing on a small scale by 
the farmers. The number of horned cattle doubled 
between 1908 and 1914 in the Castellanos department, 
and increased by a third in Las Colonias. The area 
of lucerne has extended in proportion. The farms have 
been multiplied on the low lands [canadas], unsuitable 
for wheat, which the older colonists had disdained ; 
but they are now regarded as the best bits of land. 
The recent rise in the value of land in the region of 
the colonies is connected, not with an increase of 
agricultural production, but a development of breeding. 
A few co-operative diary societies have been established. 
In general, however, breeding is solely for the meat- 
market. The cattle-trade goes on very different lines 
from those of the large estates and ranches. It has 
remained in the hands of small dealers (Jews of Moises- 

Agricultural colonization in the Buenos Aires 
province was at first entirely independent of the Santa 
Fe colonization. The crops of the adjoining region 
of Buenos Aires never disappeared altogether. In 
the period to which Daireaux's description of the 
economic life of the Pampa refers (1880-89), the farmers 
disputed with the breeders a belt some ten leagues 
broad round the capital. But sheep-breeding left 
no place for agriculture in the next belt, which enclosed 
the first on every side, and extended almost as far as 
the Salado. Agricultural colonization had found free 
land only beyond the sheep-farm area, 170 miles west 
of Buenos Aires, round Chivilcoy, Chacabuco, and 



Bragado. As early as 1872 the Chivilcoy district 
produced 130,000 hectolitres of wheat ; or nearly half 
the total production of the Buenos Aires province. 
In 1889 it formed a comparatively dense agricultural 
patch, the cultivated area being devoted half to wheat 
and half to maize. 




307 kms. 

399 kms. 


•• 155 .. 

164 „ 


.. 147 .. 

261 „ 

At that date the whole west and south of the Buenos 
Aires province was exclusively pastoral. There were 
only two isolated nuclei of agricultural colonization. 
The first was round Olavarria, on the old Indian frontier, 
where Russo-German colonies had been established 
in 1878. The second was in the Suarez department, 
at the extreme north of the Sierra de la Ventana, where 
a group of French colonists settled five years later, at 
Pigiie.i The opening of the line from Buenos Aires to 
Bahia Blanca ought, one would think, to have prepared 
the way for agricultural colonization in this section. 
However, the 1895 Census shows a check to these first 
attempts at tillage in the south. It fell by one half at 
Suarez, and by three-fourths at Olavarria, The Pigiie 
colonists have succeeded in keeping to their lands, but 
those of Olavarria have abandoned them, and most 
of them have emigrated to the Entre Rios province. 

On the other hand, colonization has kept the land 
won in the district of the middle Salado, and it extends 
in a sporadic way toward the south-west and west. 
(Nueve de Julio, 252 square kilometres of wheat and 
400 of maize : Veinte Cinco de Mayo, 84 square kilo- 
metres of wheat and 218 of maize : Junin, 197 square 
kilometres of wheat and 204 of maize in 1895). It 
has been maintained ever since, with slow progress, 
but without being ousted by breeding. This is one 

' Wheat-area in 1889 in the Olavarria department, 319 square 
kilometres; in the Suarez department, 118 square kilometres. 

O. ' i ^ 

-i ' 


The first chanares. 

Photograph by the Author. 



The days. A line of dead dunes crosses the Junin district, following the course of the Salado. 
They are indicated by light, sandy soil, very different from the clays of the north of 
■Buenos Aires province. Photograph by the Author. 

■Plate XVU. 

To face p. i-)^.. 



of the regions of the Pampa where the most different 
types of rural exploitation are mingled together. 
Agricultural colonization has been carried on both 
by small proprietors and farmers or tenants. Wheat 
and maize seem to be permanently associated, and 
the climate is equally good for both ; the maize crop 
being the better if the summer is wet, and the wheat 
crop when the summer is dry. The two cereals follow 
each other on the same land, in rotation, the wheat 
being helped by the constant weeding and clearing 
which the maize requires. The colonists use oxen 
in the work, and fatten them afterwards. ^ 

Agricultural colonization in the lucerne region dates 
from 1895 to 1905 : 

Wheat Area 

Flax Area 

(in kilometres). 

(in kilometres). 





Buenos Aires : 














Trenque Lauquen 















Cordoba : 

Gal. Roca 





Rio Quarto 





Juarez Celman 










I have shown how this was bound up with the develop- 
ment of the lucerne farms themselves. The extreme 

' Draught animals in 1908 : at Chivilcoy, 17,000 cattle and 10,000 
horses ; at Junin, 15,000 cattle and 6,000 horses ; at Nueve de Julio, 
15,000 cattle and 6,000 horses. In the region of the Santa F6 colonies : 
at Castellanos, 17,000 cattle and 54,000 horses ; at Las Colonias, 6,000 
cattle and 35,000 horses. In the wheat belt (South of Buenos Aires) : 
at Puan, (no cattle) 29,000 horses. At the sierras (no cattle), 14,000 


west of the lucerne belt (Pedernera department and 
San Luis) is the only place where the cultivated area 
was reduced. The contracts by which the ranchers 
entrust their lands to the colonists, on condition of 
returning them sown with lucerne, were gradually 
modified as the stream of colonization developed. 
The land was at first left to the colonist rent free, the 
rancher being paid by the creation of the lucerne 
fields. But in proportion to the increasing volume of 
the stream of immigrants, and the keener competition 
of the colonists, the rancher asked better terms. There 
are similar contracts in regard to the restoration of 
lucerne fields which have been worn out by pasturage, 
so that the land has to be ploughed up periodically. 
The men who clear the land in the lucerne belt have 
mostly been recruited in the district of the old colonies 
of Santa Fe, where the new generation had begun to 
feel the pinch. The crops which they raise during the 
four or five years of their lease are chosen without any 
idea of sparing lands which they are not to keep. Wheat 
succeeds wheat, and the first and last crop is often 
flax. The proportion of flax is lower only in the southern 
part of the lucerne belt. In the Buenos Aires province 
the colonist grows lucerne on his own account, either 
to sell as dry fodder or for breeding or fattening. 

Colonization does not in these parts correspond with 
the division of property. Not only does the farmer 
not become the owner of the soil, but he does not live 
on it permanently ; he is a veritable nomad. His 
house has a temporary look that strikes one at the 
first glance. The area cultivated is almost stable, 
if the region is considered as a whole. But cultivation 
passes periodically from one section to another, and 
its removals cause sudden alterations or crises in the 
railway traffic and the development of the urban 

The lucerne belt has been peopled by Santafecinos, 
and it has in turn sent colonists to the western agricul- 



tural belt at the foot of the Sierras de San Luis and de 
Cordoba. They have less suitable climatological con- 
ditions, but they have the advantage of greater stability, 
as the breeders do not dispute the land with them. 

While agricultural colonization has been an aid to 
pastoral colonization in the north-west of Buenos 
Aires, it tends to displace breeding, or restrict its sphere, 
in the north-east and the south. Maize-growing started 
on the banks of the Parand, where it was already 
paramount in 1889, between Campana (north of Buenos 
Aires) and San Nicolas. In 1895 it advanced up the 
Parand as far as the Santa Fe province (Constitucion) and 
spread over the interior for some sixty miles in the 
Salto department. In the next few years it made 
rapid progress toward the west and north-west, covering 
the departments of Pergamino, Rojas, and Colon, and 
part of General Lopez, San Lorenzo, and Constitucion 
in the province of Santa F^. 

Maize Area. 

Flax Area. 





















S. Pedro 














Salto . . 







Gal. Lopez "\ 


/ 373 






\ 575 





Pergamino . . 














Colon . . 







S. Lorenzo . . 














Export of Argentine maize on a large scale began in 
1895. Flax-growing was not added to maize until 
The heavy land requires a good deal of harrowing. 


and the weeding and harvesting of the maize give em- 
ployment to a comparatively large staff. The estates 
are of moderate size, often only 50 hectares. Ownership 
was not divided at the period of colonization, the land, 
thanks to the breeders, having already acquired so 
high a value that the colonists could not buy it. On 
the lands which have been farmed out there has 
developed a rural, and often far from docile, proletariat. 
It is in the maize region that the worst agricultural 
strikes have taken place. The struggles of the owners 
and the colonists are the more prolonged because the 
sowing of the maize can be put back to the end of the 
spring without much harm being done. The adjoin- 
ing zone of the Parana produced some of the maiseros 
who have scattered over the north-west. But the 
modern colonies include, in addition, a large proportion 
of immigrants who have recently landed from Italy 
and Spain, The maize growers do not mix with the 
wheat-growers. Each group has its own area. 

The increase of wheat-growing in the south dates 
only from 1898 : 

Wheat Area (in kilometres). 



Alsina . . 



Puan . . 



Suarez . , 



La Madrid 









Terr, de la Pampa 


Wheat first spread along the line from Buenos Aires 
to Bahia Blanca, west of the Sierra de la Ventana, 
then in the coastal district, east of Bahia Blanca, These 
two wheat-areas became connected after 1904, when 
the opening of the direct line from Olavarria to Buenos 

P A M P A 

W- 75 per cent of the whole 

area soirn nM matje 
5- 1^ /serceni- 
I I /<?i;s H^an S t^er ceni~ 


60° Long .W 5r. 

As it needs more heat and moisture than wheat, the maize does not go so far to the west and 
south. It is concentrated for export at the ports of the Rio de la Plata and the Parana, especially 
at Rosario. The Argentine " corn belt," the chief maize area, extends back of Rosario and 
San Nicolas to beyond Casilda and Pergamino. 

To face p. iy8. 


Aires facilitated the development of the intermediate 
region (Pringles-Laprida), From Bahia Blanca it spread 
to the west and north-west along the Toay line, and 
southward as far as Colorado on the coast. In the 
whole area of the Central Pampa it is still possible 
to distinguish two strata of immigrants, of different 
dates, one superimposed upon the other : the sheep- 
breeders and the farmers. Round Toay the contrast 
between the two elements of the population is even 
more striking, because the first pastoral colonization, 
which dates from 1890, was to a great extent the work 
of Creole puntanos (from the San Luis province). The 
actual agricultural colonies, on the other hand, include 
recent European immigrants and colonists from other 
parts of the provinces of Buenos Aires and Entre 

The yield of the wheat grows less and less as one 
goes westward. The harvest may be injured either 
by late frost or drought, or, especially, by hot winds 
which scorch the plants and blight the half-realized 
hopes of the farmers in the weeks just before the harvest. 
But the relative poorness of the return is compensated 
by the extent of the farms and the cheapness of labour. 
The harvest is often done with machines that peel and 
pack the wheat, and the workers are not compelled, 
as they are at Santa Fe, to wait for the threshing machine. 
The aridity does not permit flax-growing, but oats can 
be grown, especially between the Sierra de la Ventana 
and the Sierra de Tandil ; and it is good to sow oats 
when the land has been impoverished by consecutive 
crops of wheat. Exports of oats through Bahia Blanca 
began in 1906. 

The displacement of breeding by farming is less 
thorough than in the maize belt. Oats, sown about 
the beginning of autumn, serve for fodder. The 
animals are kept in the fields during the winter, and 
the oats are cut and put into the mill, without being 
threshed, as a reserve fodder. Moreover, the wheat 


farmers have themselves taken to rearing sheep, and 
the sheep feed in the stubble and fallow. 

From this short account of the history of colonization 
we draw certain important conclusions. At the time 
when agricultural colonization began, it was admitted 
that farming was the best way to exploit the soil, and 
that the Pampa would sooner or later pass from the 
pastoral to the agricultural cycle ; or, to use the local 
phraseology, that the " colony " would replace the 
ranch everywhere. This idea was wrong. The only 
area in which the facts seem to give it any support 
is the corn belt. The general rule is, on the contrary, 
that in its progress colonization develops a mixed 
type of exploitation, combining farming and breeding ; 
either one alternates with the other in a sort of periodic 
rotation, as in the lucerne area, or both proceed together, 
the farmers including breeding amongst their occupa- 
tions, as in the district of the Santa Fe colonies or in 
the wheat area in the south of the Buenos Aires province. 

It seems, moreover, that the development of coloniza- 
tion depends not only upon physical conditions, but 
upon factors of a purely economic or social character, 
which the geographer must not overlook. It will be 
enough here to indicate the chief of these. 

We have seen the part that has been played in the 
exploitation of the soil by groups of colonists who 
swarm from one area to another. Whether we think 
of the ranchers of the eastern part of Buenos Aires 
transplanting themselves to Cordoba or north of Santa 
Fe, the sheep-breeders moving westward, or the Santa 
Fe colonists settling in the lucerne area, they all take 
with them their own habits and methods of work, 
and they take time to adjust them to a new environment. 

The colonist, whether breeder or farmer, is not left 
to himself. Colonization is sustained and directed by 
speculation in land, and is influenced by it. Specula- 
tion discounts the work of the colonist, and attaches 


The wheat belt stretches in a broad section of a circle from Bahia Blanca to Santa Fe, 
which is now reached by maritime vessels. The cultivation of wheat crosses the line 
of 600 millimetres of rainfall, and even the 400-millimetre line, in proportion as one 
passes from the area of summer rein to that of spring and autumn rain. 

To face p. 203, 


to the land a value which is not based upon the revenue 
it has produced, but upon that which the speculator 
calculates that it may produce in the future. If the 
speculator is audacious, he does not let himself be 
discouraged by initial bad experiences ; it takes 
repeated checks to exhaust his optimism. The colonist, 
even if his farming accounts do not show a profit, 
may nevertheless gain something if the value of his 
land goes up. The increase of his capital conceals from 
him the smallness of his returns, especially as he can 
easily get advances on the value of his property from 
the banks, and this enables him to draw upon his 
wealth every year. 

Speculation is concerned with new lands on the fringe 
of the area already colonized, where the soil is, as a 
general rule, already in the hands of the exploiters 
themselves. The speculators, having paid a high 
price for these lands, try to organize the development 
of them. It is partly owing to their influence that 
colonization continuously enlarges its domain, instead 
of concentrating its labour in the older districts where 
it might sometimes be more productive. In fine, 
speculation in land has a profound influence on the 
conditions of colonization, making it more difficult for 
the colonist to buy the land he is developing. The 
owner who grants him the use of the land means to 
keep for himself any increment of its value. He rents, 
but he will not sell. 

Thus the history of colonization cannot be separated 
from the traffic in land. The special features of this 
traffic in the Pampean region — its concentration at 
Buenos Aires ; the creation of a land-market resembling 
a stock market ; the practice of selling on the instalment 
plan, which enables small capitalists to enter the market ; 
the repeated transfers of pieces of land which the buyers 
have never seen and which they know only from plans — 
are one of the most original aspects of modern Argentina. 
They are partly due to a fact of a geographical nature — 


the uniformity of the Pampean plain, on which every 
piece of land is worth about as much as the adjoining 

Colonization is easy and rapid in proportion as it 
requires less capital and labour. The expansion of 
breeding in the west between 1880 and 1890 was facili- 
tated by the low market price of cattle at that time. 
Breeding has the advantage over farming of not needing 
so large a staff, but it requires a larger capital. Of 
the crops, assuming that the conditions of soil and 
climate are equally favourable, wheat is better than 
maize for colonization, because the preparing of the 
soil and the harvest can be done more speedily, and 
the same number of hands can plant a larger area with 
wheat than with maize. 

The action of the Argentine Government and the 
provincial authorities has been restrained, apart from 
the earliest period of the establishment of the Santa 
Fe colonies, both as regards the securing of immigrants, 
the distribution of lands, and the administration of 
the colonies.^ Colonization has been, on the whole, 
a private affair. The work of organizing colonization 
has at times been undertaken by the proprietors them- 
selves ; they leased pieces of land and got a good 
price for them, at the same time increasing the surplus 
value of the plots they kept for themselves by promoting 
the increase of population. Sometimes it was under- 
taken by Colonization Companies, which bought land 
to divide and sell. More frequently it was undertaken 
by merchants who advanced credit to the colonists 
they settled, on condition that the colonists bought 

' The Agricultural Centres Law, passed in 1887 by the province 
of Buenos Aires to encourage colonization, has not had good results. 
By the terms of this law, owners who professed themselves willing 
to devote their lands to colonization received an advance on the value 
of the lands in the form of mortgages, the interest and repayment 
of the mortgage being charged to the colonists. Many owners took 
advantage of the law, but, after a pretence of colonization, kept the 
ownership of their lands. 


what they needed of the merchants, and entrusted 
them with the sale of their crops. The migration of 
the Santa Fe colonists was partly due to, and sustained 
by, a corresponding migration of merchants who had 
acquired wealth in the older colonies, and who thus 
got a larger body of customers. The merchant who 
organizes colonization often acts as the intermediary 
between the owner and the colonist, guaranteeing the 
owner a fixed rent for his land and receiving so much 
per cent, of his harvest from the farmer. This system 
is very widespread in the corn belt, but it is found 
all over the plain of the Pampas. It tends to disappear 
when the colony is older and deeper-rooted, as the 
colonist gradually earns his independence ; he buys 
his lease, his equipment, and his furniture, and controls 
the sale of his own crops. In the districts where he 
has not become owner, the leases are generally varia- 
tions of two types : farming leases, where the colonist 
has capital enough for working, and renting leases, 
where the capital is provided by the owner or the 

Lastly, colonization can make no progress unless 
it finds markets on which it can put its produce. Up 
to the present western Europe has been the chief market 
for the wool, leather, meat, and cereals of the Pampean 
region ; tropical America absorbs part of the output 
of the saladeros, flour, and dry fodder ; and North 
America has recently begun to compete with Europe for 
wool, leather, and frozen meat. The facility with 
which the products of the Pampa have found their 
way into the world's markets, as is seen in the comparative 
stability of the returns, explains the continuous advance 
of colonization and the short duration of the crises 
which have disturbed it. 

The home market, however, has had an importance 
in connection with colonization that must not be over- 
looked. When wheat-growing spread at Santa Fe 
the crop was at first devoted to supplying Buenos 


Aires, and as late as 1883 Zeballos thought that the 
essential result of agricultural colonization was the 
fact that Chilean flour was beaten off the Argentine 
market. Even to-day the districts on the outskirts 
of the cereal area depend upon the home market. The 
Villa Mercedes mill supplies Mendoza. Cordoba and 
Santa Fe send their flour to Tucumdn. The price of 
cereals still shows slight fluctuations in these parts 
as compared with prices in Buenos Aires. 

Pastoral colonization, again, has not been entirely 

Table of Exports of the Chief Products of the Pampean region 
[in thousands oj tons) : 





19 14 







Maize . . 












Flour . . 












Salted hides . . 






Dried hides . . 






Chilled beef . . 






Chilled mutton 






The heading " cereals " appears in the statistics of Argentine 
exports in 1882. In 1900 the value of the agricultural produce ex- 
ported is equal to that of the products of breeding. In 1904 it is 

independent of the home market. Martin de Moussy 
says, it is true, that the area which sent the products 
of breeding to Europe in 1865 extended as far as the 
Sierra de Cordoba. But this statement needs correction. 
The hides from the whole of this zone were, in point 
of fact, sent down to the ports on the Rio de la Plata, 
but live animals were sent to Chile from the whole of 
the north-west of the Pampean region. It was for the 
purpose of selling cattle to Chile that ranches were 
multiplied about i860 in the neighbourhood of Villa 
Mercedes and lower down, on the Rio Quinto, Jegou's 


description shows that even in 1883 the breeders of 
the San Luis province devoted themselves exclusively 
to supplying the Chilean market.^ Buyers from Chile 
and the Andean provinces still visit Villa Mercedes, 
and until a recent date they came to Villa Maria, in 
the province of Cordoba. The Santa Fe ranches 
found their customers, until the opening of the Cordoba 
line (1870) amongst the troperos, who bought draught 
oxen for their waggons. The loss of these customers 
and the crisis that followed are one of the reasons why 
agricultural colonization met with so little resistance 
on the part of the breeders, and was able to take root 
so' easily at Santa Fe. In the San Cristobal depart- 
ment the breeders who settled there after 1890 found 
their first market in the obrajes of the neighbouring 
forest. The opening of the railway to Tucuman 
afterwards enabled them to send their cattle to the 
provinces of the north-west. The Buenos Aires 
buyers were late in this remote canton of the Pampean 
plain. They did not arrive until 191 1. 

The importance of the Pampean region itself as a 
market of consumption grew in proportion to the increase 
of its population. The extent to which it absorbs 
the products of breeding and agriculture varies a good 
deal. For some of them it is paramount. Horse- 
breeding, for instance, which is still one of the great 
industries of the Pampa, has never contributed to the 
export trade. It is the same with regard to potatoes, 
which are concentrated in two strictly limited districts, 
round Rosario and north of the Sierra de Tandil. 
Only a small part of the dry fodder is exported. As 
regards cereals, a comparison of the statistics of produc- 
tion with the statistics of export shows that the home 
consumption is about one-third of the production. 
It is almost nil for flax, and nearly fifty per cent, for 

' A. Jegou, " Informe sobre la provincia de San Luis," A7in. Soc. 
Cientifica Aygentina, xvi. 1883, pp. 140-152, 192-200, and 223-230. 


The average of production and export for the years 
1912, 1913, and 1914, in thousands of tons, is : 




(including Oats). 

Production . . 





As the chief centres of consumption are the ports 
themselves, it follows that the commercial currents 
that have to supply them are confused with the currents 
which maintain the exports. The exchanges between 
the various regions of the Pampa are more interesting 
to the geographer. In their tendency to specialize, 
these regions have ceased to be self-contained, and 
they have to look to adjoining regions. The feeding 
of the mills necessitates the transport of wheat in 
different directions. The chief mills are at Buenos 
Aires, where they are suitably located to work both 
for the home market and for export ; and the mills in the 
interior have some difficulty in competing with them. 
Some of these, however, are still active. They mix hard 
wheat, bought in the district of the Santa Fe colonies, 
with the soft wheat that is grown in the middle and 
south of Buenos Aires province. 

But this inter-regional transport of cereals is a small 
thing in comparison with the transport of cattle. The 
extension of the lucerne farms has developed the 
fattening industry in many districts, while others 
still confine themselves to breeding in the ordinary 
sense, and they feed the other centres. The most 
specialized fattening district is that of Villa Mercedes 
and the western part of the lucerne belt, while the 
eastern part of the province of Buenos Aires and Entre 
Rios are still areas of production. The differentiation 
of the pastoral zones can be gathered from a study 
of the statistics. According to the 1908 Census, milch 


cows represent 53 per cent, of the whole of the cattle 
in all the departments which form the heart of the 
breeding area east of Buenos Aires, and only 45 per 
cent, in the departments of the north-west of Buenos 
Aires and south of Cordoba and in the Pedernera 
department of San Luis, where fattening is common. 

According to the 1914 Census oxen are 24 per cent, 
of the herd in the same departments of eastern Buenos 
Aires ; 24 per cent, also in Entre Rios ; and the propor- 
tion rises to 31 per cent, in the lucerne area. Dolores 
department (eastern Buenos Aires) has 64 per cent, milch 
cows and 21 per cent. oxen. Pedernera department 
(San Luis, in the lucerne area) has 49 per cent, cows 
and 38 per cent, oxen. General Roca department 
(Cordoba) has 48 per cent, cows and 34 per cent. oxen. 
Arenales (Buenos Aires) has 39 per cent, cows and 46 per 
cent. oxen. I 

Oxen intended for the refrigerators are bought either 
on the ranches or at Buenos Aires, where beasts in good 
condition are consigned to buyers, but oxen for fattening 
are bought at fairs which are held periodically in the 
towns of the interior. Another transaction at these 
fairs is the trade in pedigree breeders. The best known 
of them is held at Villa Mercedes (province of San Luis), 
where 8,000 oxen are sold every month. At the Mercedes 
fairs one may see Durham steers from the east of Buenos 
Aires which are to be fattened and sent back to the 
refrigerators or the slaughter-houses of Buenos Aires. 
There are also Creole cattle from the north of the San 
Luis province and Rioja which will later be eaten in 
Mendoza or in Chile. There is, in fact, on the western 
frontier of the Pampa no line of demarcation correspond- 
ing to that set up in the north by the limit of the area 
contaminated by the garrapate, separating the district 
of Creole breeding from that of selective breeding. 
There is free communication here between the two 

■ For Argentina as a whole the percentage is : milch cows, 55 per 
cent. ; oxen, 26 per cent. 


zones, and the lucerne fields for fattening at Villa 
Mercedes are used in common by the breeders of the 
Pampa and of the bush.^ 

Cultivated Areas in the Argentine Republic 
(in square kilometres, almost exclusively in the Pampean region). 





















































Exports jor 1913, 1914, and 1915 a', each port. 































Buenos Aires 







> 2,051 













Bahia Blanca 













S. Nicolas . . 






\ 651 












La Plata . . 







> 459 













Santa Fe . . 







j 278 







• A large number of the cattle which are to be fattened are bought 
at the market in Buenos Aires ; but these do not, as a rule, come 
from the Pampean region. 


Roads on the plain — The salt road — The " trade route " — Trans- 
port by ox-waggons — Arrieros and Tr operas — Railways and 
colonization — The trade in cereals — Home traffic and the 
reorganization of the system. 

The chapter devoted to primitive breeding and the 
transport of cattle contains a sketch of the network of 
routes over the Andes. One cannot expect to find in 
the scheme of routes over the Argentine plains the 
stern and obvious influence of natural conditicns. 
The surface of these plains is, as a whole, broadly 
open to traffic. Still, the map of the roads bears 
much evidence of geographical exigencies. 

The hills which rise like islands out of the alluvial 
plain are not all incapable of being crossed, and the 
roads do not always skirt them. The road from 
Buenos Aires to Peru runs north of 30° 40' S. lat. 
on the very axis of the granite peneplain which forms 
the northern part of the Sierra de Cordoba. The 
Dean Funes ridge, which begins with an altitude of 
2,500 feet between the Sierra Chica and these table- 
lands, has always been used for communication between 
Cordoba and the north-western provinces. There the 
railway has taken the place of the primitive track. 
Another important track crosses the Sierra de Cordoba 
in the north of the Pampa de Achala, and used to 
join Cordoba with Villa Dolores and the north of the 
San Luis province. The southern part of the Sierra 
de Cordoba and the Sierra de San Luis are, on the 

14 ^""^ 


other hand, an insurmountable obstacle, which diverts 
southward the high road to Chile via Achiras, San 
Jose, del Morro, and San Luis. 

The sierras of the Buenos Aires province are not so 
high and extensive. They are, moreover, broken into 
isolated hills with the plain passing between them. 
As early as 1822 Colonel Garcia pointed out the 
importance, in connection with the migrations of the 
Indian tribes, of the passage between the Sierra 
Amarilla and the Sierra de Curaco, that is to say, the 
Olavarria ridge. It is there that the first railway 
between Buenos Aires and Bahia Blanca crosses the 
line of sierras. It then skirts the Sierra de la Ventana, 
to the north, by the Pigiie ridge, between the mass 
of Curumalan and the Puan hills. The dunes of the 
western Pampa also are an impediment to traffic, not 
so much because of their height as because of the 
looseness of the ground. The strip between General 
Acha and Toay was very trying for the stage-coaches. 
Travellers had to cross the dunes on foot during 
the winter season, when the horses were in a bad 

Natural supplies of water increase in number as 
one gets away from the Andean zone toward the east. 
Still, the chief work, often the only work, to be done 
in making a road is the arrangement of permanent 
supplies of water. Martin de Moussy mentions the 
digging of wells on the new road from Cordoba to 
Rosario, which was opened about i860. The aiguade 
was generally a represa, a reservoir, where the water 
accumulated behind a barrier of earth raised across 
the course of an intermittent stream. The upkeep of 
the represa is the chief duty of the post-master. The 
edge of the sierras and the opening point of the ravines 
which come down them is a good place for making 
represas, and the roads frequently keep to these (variant 

» J. B. Ambrosetti, " Vi^je a la Pampa central," Bol. Instit. Geog. 
Argent., xiv. 1893, pp. 292-368. 


Photograph by See. Fotografica de Aficionados. 

Plate XVIII. 


The horses saddled with the cincha. 

Photograph by Soc. Fotografica de Aficionados. 

To face p. 2io. 


of the road from Cordoba to Tucuman via Totoral, 
Dormida, Rio Seco and Sumampa, on the eastern 
edge of the Sierra de Cordoba, etc.) Long stages with 
no water supphes, the travesias, are not found on the 
made roads, as a rule, except west of the meridian, 
of Cordoba. However, the direct road from Santa 
Fe to Santiago del Estero by the lagoon of Los 
Porongos, which was used in the eighteenth cen- 
tury, seems to have been abandoned afterwards, as 
much on account of the difficulty of supplying water 
as because it was exposed to attack from the 

The only difficulty which the caravans encountered 
on the roads over the plain was the crossing of the 
rivers. They were forded. Fords with a muddy 
bottom on the lower course of the rivers, such as that 
on the Saladillo near the confluence of the Rio 
Tercero, were more difficult for wagons than the fords 
with sandy bottoms in the upper course, near the 
fringe of the mountains, such as those of the Rio 
Tercero on the Cordoba road, or of the Rio Cuarto on 
the road to Chile. After rain, certain parts of the 
plain are flooded and impassable. That is the case in 
the district to the south of the lower Salado, at the 
very spot where Pere Cardiel notices the lack of water 
in the dry season (1747). The direct road from Buenos 
Aires to the sierras was at that point exposed, alter- 
nately, to drought and flood. The line of the Southern 
railway, which crosses this low district, is still cut 
periodically on both sides of Las Flores by floods. 
The lack of an organized network of streams, the 
irregularity of the rains, the difficulty of ascertaining 
the inclination, and the flow of the waters over a 
plain which seems to the eye to be perfectly level, 
have led to more than one miscalculation on the part 
of the railways, which were constructed hurriedly, 
and before the general survey of the Pampa was 
finished. Some lines, on the Pampa or on the Chaco, 


have had to be partially reconstructed, and raised 
higher, after a series of rainy years. ^ 

The colonization of that part of the plain which 
actually constitutes the province of Buenos Aires 
was late. It belongs to the era of the railways. There 
is only one historic road crossing this area, which 
remained until the last third of the nineteenth 
century in the hands of the Indian tribes. This is 
the salt road. We do not know exactly when it began 
to be used. In the eighteenth century, in spite of 
the competition of salt from Cadiz and Patagonia, 
imported by sea, the Pampa salt was the main part 
of the supply of Buenos Aires. The salt road was 
not abandoned until after 1810. We still have the 
diary of several journeys from Buenos Aires to the 
salt-pits. They were military expeditions. Hundreds 
of wagons, with a strong escort, collected at Lujan 
and Chivilcoy, and they reached Atreuco, west of 
the Guamini and Carbue lakes, after a fifteen to 
twenty-five days' march. 

The itinerary was fixed in detail. In 1796 D'Azara 
noticed the wells sunk by the salters, north of the 
Palentelen lagoon (Bragado), when they found the 
lagoon dry. From Palentelen south-westward the salt 
road followed the track used by the Indians of the 
south-west in their expeditions against the ranches 
of the Buenos Aires frontier. Near Lake Epecuen, 
north of Carbue, it was joined by another track which 
came from Olavarria, the stages of which were marked 
by the streams that came from the Sierra de Curu- 
malan. The Carbue district, the cross-roads of the 

" Certain duplications in the actual scheme of the railways are 
due to this need to correct a line that had been planned hastily and 
was useless. The line from Justo Daract to La Paz (1912), on the 
Pacific railway, avoids the steep inclinations of the first line, which 
followed the course of the wagon-road via San Luis. The inter- 
pretation of the relief is particularly difficult in a country which has 
not been shaped by normal erosion. Blunders detected by later 
topographical inquiries were similarly committed in constructing the 
Patagonian railways. 


tracks, was one of the places where the tribes col- 
lected. " This place," says the diary of the 1778 
expedition, " is the first point where the hostile Indians 
meet and rest when they leave the Sierra and on 
returning from their invasions. They not only rest 
there, but have their winter pasture there " (in the 
dry season). I Zeballos has described the Indian track, 
the rusirillada, between Epecuen, Atreuco and Traru 
Lauquen, where the travesia on the road to Chile 
began. 2 It was not less than 1,000 feet in width. 
At the foot of the dunes there were deep parallel 
grooves made by the feet of the raided cattle, which 
were taken away by the " Chilefios." 

The two main roads of the colonial period are the 
roads to Chile and Peru. On leaving Buenos Aires 
there was one road for a distance of about 320 miles. 
The " trade road " passed through Lujan, Areco and 
Sauce, and reached the Carcaraiia, or Rio Tercero, at 
Esquina. It therefore kept at some distance from 
the Parana (32 to 16 miles), on the tableland, crossing 
the valleys which were embedded in it and represented 
so many bad parts. It then ascended the Tercero on 
the right bank as far as the Paso Fereira, at the spot 
where Villa Maria is to-day. At Esquina de Medrano 
(Villa Maria) the road to Chile branched off to the 
south-east, reached San Luis by following the Rio 
Cuarto, going through Achiras and San Jose del Morro, 
and, after a travesia seventy-eight miles in length, 
came to the Rio Tunuyan at La Paz, and ascended 
the river to Mendoza.3 

' Coll. de Angelis, v. 

» Est. Zeballos, Descripcion amena de la Repuhlica Argentina, vol. i, 
" Vi^je al pais de los Araucanos " (Buenos Aires, 1881). 

3 Martin de Moussy says that a more direct route, avoiding the 
detour to the north by the Rio Tercero, was followed in the eighteenth 
century between Buenos Aires and San Luis, by way of Salto and 
the Rio Quinto as far as the latitude of fort Constitucion (Villa Mer- 
cedes). Woodbine Parish's map (1839) and Napp's map (1876) both 
show a road by way of Salto and Melincue to the Rio Cuarto, where 
it joins the ordinary road. However that may be, these roads were 


From Esquina de Medrano the Peru road made for 
Cordoba in the north-west. From the tablelands 
which continue the Sierra de Cordoba northward it 
descended toward the Rio Dulce, which it reached 
west of Atamisqui, and which it followed as far as 
Santiago del Estero, where it crossed to the north 
bank. It crossed the Sali in the latitude of Tucuman, 
and, passing through Tracas and Metan, followed the 
depression which separates the Andes from the sub- 
Andean chains. From Salta it went north to Jujuy, 
and passed through the Quebrada de Humahuaca to 
reach the Puna. 

The influence of rivers is not much seen in the scheme 
of the primitive roads. There were in the sixteenth 
century many routes from Peru to the Paraguay, 
across the Chaco, but not a permanent road in the 
strict sense. In the eighteenth century there was a 
direct road from Santa Fe to Tucuman, by the north 
of the Los Porongos lagoon and the course of the Rio 
Dulce. There was another from Santa Fe to Cordoba. 
These roads were not exclusively used for conveying 
cattle. The river route which they joined at Santa 
Fe provided them with a certain amount of traJBic 
coming from the higher provinces. Paraguayan mate 
reached the Andean regions by this road, and in 
return the boatmen at Santa Fe loaded up with the 
wines and dried fruit of the Andean provinces to take 
to Asuncion. 

The question of joining the road on to a river was 
not of very great importance until the time when 
the Parana began to be used for Argentine imports 
and exports, and to maintain the communication of 
the interior provinces with Europe. This question of 
connection with a river controls the history of the 

naver used regularly, from fear of the Indians or — which comes to 
the same thing — because the area they cross, in the south of the actual 
territory of the provinces of Santa F6 and C6rdoba, was not yet 


construction of the railway system. But the great 
importance of it can be seen from the first half of 
the nineteenth century. D'Orbigny had a presenti- 
ment of it. Speaking of the future of Santa Fe, he 
says : " When peace is restored, it is certain that the 
wares of Cordoba may, instead of going by land from 
that town to Buenos Aires, be sent to Santa Fe, where 
shipping them to the Argentine capital will reduce to 
one-third the journey by land, which is always more 
costly than going by water." Martin de Moussy, 
foreseeing the making of a road across the Chaco 
from Tucuman to the Parana, in the latitude of 
Corrientes, calculates that Corrientes may later serve 
as port for part of the west and north of Argentina. 
At the date of the publication of his book, however, 
it was neither Santa Fe nor Corrientes, but the new 
town Rosario, that began to play the part of interior 
port, and led to the construction of a new system of 
roads. Traffic between Rosario and Cordoba at first 
followed the old road from Buenos Aires to Peru, 
which one struck after leaving Rosario and making a 
detour to the south-west, on the right bank of the 
Carcaraiia (at Rio Tercero). But this itinerary was 
presently replaced by a direct road to the west-north- 
west, following the line which the railways would 
adopt. ^ 

In the greater part of Argentina transport was by 

» Between 1832 and 1862, during the period when relations were 
suspended between the Argentine Confederation and Buenos Aires, 
there was a beginning of a general reorganization of the roads in 
harmony with the new political conditions. The road from Santa 
Fe and Parang to Concepcion (in Uruguay) across the Entre Rios 
tablelands, and from there to Montevideo, had owed its initial import- 
ance to the closing of the lower Parani under Rosas, and Woodbine 
Parish records that there was already a good deal of smuggling there. 
This road became an essential artery when Parand made itself the 
federal capital under Urquiza. He intended to connect ParanS. with 
the western provinces, and he created a mail service from Santa Fe 
to C6rdoba. Ephemeral as the good fortune of Parand was, its 
influence on the organization of the roads of Argentina was too material 
to be ignored by the geographer. 


means of wagons before railways were constructed. 
The limit between the area of wagon-transport and the 
area in which goods were conveyed on the backs of 
animals is quite stable. It is still of some significance, 
in spite of the development of the railways ; wagons 
and mules are used at each station to collect and dis- 
tribute goods. The area of farming and of selective 
breeding on the Pampa, the sheep-area in Patagonia, 
and the timber belt on the Chaco, still make use of 
wagons ; and goods are carried on the backs of mules 
in the Andean area. The Peru road was, broadly 
speaking, fit for wagons as far as Salta, but it is rough 
between Tucuman and Salta, and wagons that used 
it generally stopped at Salta. In this way wagons 
avoided the ford of the Sali, which was easier for 
mules. On the plain itself the water-sources were 
often so distant from each other, and the stages so 
long, that mules had to be used instead of wagons. 
Wagons could easily get to Mendoza by the road along 
which the Tunuyan runs at its driest section, but all 
the convoys from Cordoba to San Juan, or Rioja to 
Catamarca, were composed of mules. Hence Cordoba 
was, like Tucuman, a station for changing on the 
road from Buenos Aires to the north-west. Lastly, 
while the scrub presented no insuperable obstacle to 
wagons, they could not enter the humid tropical 
forest, where the soil never dries. On the fringe of 
the Misiones forest, the wagons that came from San 
Tome unloaded at San Javier, and mules took the 
goods on to the yerbales. 

The two areas of different kinds of transport were 
not sharply distinct. The muleteers {arrieros) some- 
times avoided the domain of the wagoners, and com- 
peted with them as far as the banks of the Parana. 
In i860 (Hutchinson) the muleteers carried about a 
fifth, in weight, of the goods from the interior to 
Rosario, and they got more than a third of the trans- 
port from Rosario to the interior. They had, how- 


ever, to offer to carry goods at two-thirds the price 
charged by the wagoners. It appears that this inva- 
sion by the muleteers is connected with a transport- 
crisis in the Andean area, which left a number of the 
San Juan muleteers without work. It did not last. 
By 1862 mule-back transport between Rosario and 
the interior was almost over. 

The wagons of the Argentine plain have often been 
described by travellers. They were heavy vehicles, 
carrying 150, sometimes 180, arrobes (1,725 to 2,070 
kgs.), covered with a leather hood stretched on hoops. 
A long spur decorated with ostrich feathers was 
balanced on a ring fixed in the roof, and was used to 
guide the front pair of oxen. An earthenware pot 
containing water enough for each stage hung between 
the rear uprights. As a rule, three pair of oxen 
were yoked to it, one pair being in the shafts. At 
Corrientes it was necessary to cross the marshes and 
esteros, and a special type of wagon had been evolved. 
It had a sort of horizontal division forming an upper 
story, and the driver sat in this. Everywhere, on 
the Pampa as well as at Corrientes, the wheels were 
enormous ; sometimes, as Darwin says, ten feet in 
diameter. They were, therefore, able to get through 
the bad parts. Mud was, as a matter of fact, the 
worst enemy of the convoys. The soil of the Pampa 
is clayey and soft in the districts near the river. As 
the road was not limited in width, the wagons turned 
to the right or the left when the ruts became too 
deep, and the track in time covered a broad belt of 
ground. This, however, could not be done in the 
vicinity of towns, where the traffic was concentrated. 
Buenos Aires came to be surrounded by formidable 
quagmires that dried up only in the summer. The 
paving of the streets and environs was becoming a 
problem of national importance when the construction 
of the railway began. 

Wagons did not travel singly. The tropero, or 


contractor for transport, organized caravans. In peace- 
ful districts, where no military escort was required, 
the convoys could be split up ; they consisted, as a 
rule, of from fifteen to fifty wagons. Besides the six 
oxen yoked to the wagon, there had to be others for 
relief as well as horses for the staff. Usually they 
allowed ten oxen to each wagon ; in exceptional 
cases twenty. I The convoy to the salt-lakes in 1778 
had no less than 12,000 oxen to 600 wagons. There 
was a driver to each wagon, but there had also to 
be drivers for the starting animals, and carpenters to 
make repairs. The leader of the caravan, the capataz, 
was generally a master-carpenter. He looked after 
the interests of the tropero. There were about three 
men to each wagon. The carreros were an original 
type, nomadic, and very different in costume and 
character from the gauchos (breeders) of the plain. 
At the close of the eighteenth century Buenos Aires 
had more than a thousand wagons employed in the 
traffic to Mendoza and Tucuman (Borrero). 

The stages were rarely more than four or five leagues 
of five kilometres each (thirteen to sixteen miles). At 
this rate it took a convoy forty to fifty days to go 
from Buenos Aires to Mendoza, thirty days from 
Rosario to Tucuman, three months (with the necessary 
rests) from Buenos Aires to Salta.^ When water ran 
short, the journey might be greatly prolonged, as the 
animals could do less work, or not work at all if the 

' According to the details given us by De Angelis (1837, Intro- 
duction to the Diario del viaje al Rio Bermejo de Fray Francisco Moritto, 
Coll. de Angelis, vol. vi) a convoy of fourteen wagons from Salta 
to Tucum&n required three relays of oxen. The first, comprising a 
hundred animals,, went from Salta to Tucum&n ; the second, of 130 
animals, went from Tucumcin to the Buenos Aires frontier ; the third 
(84 animals), went on to the capital. The first and last relays were 
hired animals, the second alone being the property of the tropero. 

» Thirty days from Buenos Aires to Mendoza, and seventy days 
from Buenos Aires to Jujuy, says Barrero (F. Barrero, Descripcion 
de las Provincias del Rio de la Plata, end of the eighteenth century, 
published by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Buenos Aires, iQ")- 


aiguades had dried up. The season was a matter for 
consideration. In the Buenos Aires district the winter 
made the ground sodden and traffic difficult. Farther 
north, winter is the dry season, so that pasture was 
scarce, and it was difficult to feed the tropas. The 
summer had difficulties of its own. In January and 
February the floods of the Rio Dulce often made it 
impossible to cross the ford at Santiago. The carriers 
preferred to start from the northern provinces about 
the end of the summer, in April or May. The best 
season for leaving Buenos Aires was the spring, from 
August to November. In this way each tropa could 
make the double journey once a year. 

There had been attempts to speed up the transport 
before the railways were made. The galera (diligence), 
with its swarm of horses harnessed with the cincha 
(saddle to which the lasso was attached), did not 
carry goods. It did not replace the convoy of wagons, 
but the tropilla of spare horses which travellers on the 
plain drove before them. The galeria went from 
Rosario to Cordoba in three days and to Mendoza in 
ten days, and from Cordoba to Salta in fourteen days. 
About i860 a quicker goods service was organized, 
light wagons drawn by mules replacing the ox-wagons. 
They made the journey from Rosario to Cordoba in 
six days. Similarly, on the Pampa, the ox-wagons 
had been replaced before 1889 by quicker wagons, 
drawn by horses, to convey wool from the ranches to 
the railway stations. 

The cost of transport by wagon was, naturally, 
high. It also varied a good deal, but we cannot 
possibly go into these variations here. It will be 
enough to give, by way of illustration, the details 
which Hutchinson gives for the year 1862. The 
freightage was fixed either for a complete load of 
150 arrobes (1,725 kgs.) or so much per arrobe (11^ 
kgs.). Conveying a load from Rosario to Cordoba 
cost forty to fifty piastres (eight to ten pounds). The 


cost of carrying an arrobe from Rosario to Mendoza 
was five to six reales (about two shillings to two-and- 
six) ; from Rosario to Tucuman nine reales (three 
shillings and fourpence) ; from Rosario to Salta 
eighteen reales (seven shillings and sixpence). The 
tropas were, therefore, quickly ousted by the rail- 
ways. In a few places they made a very unequal 
fight against the railways. The Memoria del departe- 
mento de Ingenieros de la N acton of 1876, quoted by 
Rebuelto, mentions the competition of the tropas 
with the Andino railway, opened from Villa Maria to 
the Rio Cuarto in 1873 and to Villa Mercedes in 1875. 
The merchants of San Juan and Mendoza continued 
to use them. The railway had to sign a contract 
with the troperos by which wagons were to bring goods 
as far as Villa Mercedes, where they could be entrained. 
The total freight was fifty Bolivian centavos (about 
two shillings) per arrobe from Mendoza to Rosario, 
and sixty centavos from San Juan. Of this the share 
of the railway was fifteen centavos. 

The first Argentine railway was opened in 1859, 
between Buenos Aires and Maron, a distance of about 
thirteen miles. 

In 1870 the Argentine railways formed two inde- 
pendent systems. The first radiated fan-wise from 
Buenos Aires (Western line, open as far as Chivilcoy 
in 1870, and Southern line, open as far as Chascomus 
in 1865). Farther north a line (the Central Argentine) 
started from Rosario, and reached Bellville in 1866 
and Cordoba in 1870. 

The political isolation of Buenos Aires between 
1852 and 1862, during the time when the first con- 
cessions were issued, made upon the railway system 
an impression that would not be effaced until twenty- 
five years afterwards. It was not until 1886 that 
Rosario was connected by rail with Buenos Aires. 
The line to Mendoza and Chile, begun in 1870 


Photograph by Soc. Fotografica de Aficionados. 


There are elevators only in a few of the ports. 

Photograph by Soc. Fotografica de Aficionados. 


(F. C. Andino), joins the line from Rosario to Cordoba. 
It reached Mendoza at the foot of the Andes before 
going on to Buenos Aires ; and it was in 1888 that 
the Pacific railway was completed between Buenos 
Aires and Villa Mercedes, and established direct com- 
munications between the capital and the province of 

The line from Rosario to Cordoba is, therefore, the 
chief branch round which the Argentine system 
developed. It is remarkable that at the time of the 
original concession in 1855 a westward extension was 
contemplated, and that there was some idea of making 
it a stage in a trans-Andean. The first concessionaire. 
Wheelwright, had made the oldest railway in South 
America, from Caldera to Copiapo, in Chile in 1851. 
The 1855 concession authorized Wheelwright to extend 
the Cordoba line westward and link it with the 
Copiapo line. When he opened the Cordoba station in 
1870, Wheelwright, not suffering himself to be dis- 
couraged at the slowness with which the line had 
crossed the Pampa, still said that the goal was the 
Pacific, by way of Rioja, Copacabana and the San 
Francisco pass. This ambitious programme deserves 
to be recalled, if only as a reminiscence of the former 
orientation of the trade of Rioja and Tinogasta toward 
the Pacific, and as a proof of the importance, in the 
imagination of the men of that generation, of the old 
trans-Andean roads from north-western Argentina. 

Even before the Rosario line had reached Cordoba, 
it had been continued northward as far as Tucuman. 
The work was pushed vigorously, and Tucuman was 
reached in 1875. The Cordoba-Tucuman line was the 
first to be constructed entirely in the region of the 
scrub, and quebracho sleepers were then used for 
the first time. The earliest lines of the Buenos Aires 
province and the Argentine had, on the model of the 
Indian railways, a gauge of 5 feet 8 inches, but the 
Central Cordoba, from Cordoba to Tucuman, had a 


narrow gauge of forty inches. Hence goods coming 
from Tucuman had to be transferred at Cordoba. At 
the same time (1875) the Hne from Concordia to 
Monte Caseros was opened, and this made it possible 
to avoid the rapids of the Uruguay, which was to be 
a source of supply to the whole Mesopotamian system. 
Its gauge was fifty-seven inches. Differences of gauge 
are, and will continue to be, one of the characteristics 
of the Argentine system. 

During the period from 1875 to 1890 were con- 
structed the main lines which took the place of the 
old roads from province to province. The Andean 
railway reached San Luis in 1882 and Mendoza and 
San Juan in 1885. Branches of the Central Cordoba 
reached Santiago del Estero in 1884 and Catamarca 
in 1889. In 1891 the Central Argentine opened a 
new direct broad-gauge line from Rosario to Tucuman ; 
and almost at the same time the narrow-gauge line 
of the Central Norte, from Santa Fe to Tucuman, 
was finished further north. The Tucuman line was 
continued northward to the foot of the Andes as far 
as Salta. In the province of Buenos Aires the Bahia 
Blanca line was opened in 1884. Since 1900 the rail- 
ways have pushed on to the frontiers and are linked 
in various directions with those of the adjoining 
countries. The Cumbre tunnel on the Mendoza trans- 
Andean was completed in 1910, and traffic with Chile 
by rail is now permanent. The Salta line was con- 
tinued in 1908 to the Bolivian tableland. In Meso- 
potamia, in fine, the north-eastern line reached Posadas 
in 1911 and effected a junction with the Paraguay 

These details, however, give a very imperfect idea 
of the history of the development of the Argentine 
railway system. It has not merely been superimposed 
upon the old roads, but has, on the other hand, helped 
to open up and develop new lands, which could not 
have been colonized without it. As early as 1883 


Valiento Noailles, examining the general plan of the 
system, noticed the profound difference between the 
railways of Argentine and those of Europe. " In 
Europe," he said, " the railways are constructed to 
serve existing centres of production and consumption 
. . . Our Argentine railways are to facilitate coloniza- 
tion." Corresponding to each occupation of a new 
area of the Pampean plain by the farmer or the 
breeder is the construction in that area of a new net- 
work of Knes which are fed by its trafhc and in turn 
help it to increase its production. The more pro- 
ductive the region is, the closer are the meshes of 
this network. They are wider in the pastoral than in 
the agricultural areas. The period of the develop- 
ment of the southern lines in the province of Buenos 
Aires corresponds with the expansion of breeding 
when the Pampa had been pacified. The railway 
reached Azul in 1876. The Ayacucho branch was 
opened in 1880, and continued as far as Tres Arroyos 
in 1887. The completion of the Bahia Blanca Une, 
via Azul and Olavarria, in 1884, is itself merely one 
of the dates in this colonizing period. The great 
period of agricultural colonization at Santa Fe and 
the construction of the system of Hnes that serve it 
begin a little later, and last from 1880 to 1890 (exten- 
sion of the Central Argentine system, the railways of 
the province of Santa Fe, and the narrow-gauge 
railway from Rosario to Cordoba). 

The part that the railway has played in colonization 
is plainly seen in the present completion of the system 
which has developed freely on the even surface of 
the Pampean plain. The hnes radiate round the port 
of Buenos Aires and, in a less degree, round the ports 
of Rosario and Bahia Blanca. What seems at first 
sight to be the symmetry of the railway map will be 
found on closer examination to be less perfect ; while 
the Atlantic coast between La Plata and Bahia Blanca 
has no ports, the Parana has quite a number of suit- 


able places for shipping cereals. La Plata, San 
Nicolas and Villa Constitucion are served by lines 
which cut across the lines going to Rosario and Buenos 
Aires. This complexity of the system west of the 
Parana continues to the north of Rosario, where the 
lines that go to Santa Fe cut across all the lines going 
to Rosario. The lines which run along the southern 
frontier of the province of Buenos Aires (at Juancho, 
Necochea, etc.) have, unlike the lines serving the 
secondary parts of the Parana, all their traffic directed 
toward the interior, and they serve only to bring to 
Buenos Aires and Bahia Blanco the crops of the 
districts they cross. They are dependencies of the 
main lines of the southern system, and not rival 

When the most fertile part of the Pampean plain, 
on which there is a regular rainfall to guarantee the 
crops, had been completely colonized and covered 
with railways, the national Government took up the 
policy of colonization by rail in the national terri- 
tories. The minister Ramos Mejia has attached his 
name to this work. It has been suspended since the 
beginning of the war, but it filled the last period of 
construction of the Argentine railways. Ramos Mejia's 
railways include the lines penetrating the Chaco opened 
toward the north-west from Resistencia and Formosa, 
and the lines leading to the interior of Patagonia from 
the ports of San Antonio, Puerto Deseado, and Riva- 
davia. We must add the line from Neuquen to the 
Andes, made by the Southern Company, but with a 
Government subvention.^ These lines, serving dis- 
tricts with little population and inadequate resources, 
will not for a long time make any profit. 2 

» The line from BahIa Blanca to the Rio Negro, of which the 
Neuquen line is a continuation, was constructed in 1896. 

» The continuation of many of these lines was contemplated for 
the future, so as to secure for them at a later date a long-distance 
traffic. The Resistencia and Formosa lines, which reach the Andes, 


Hence railway construction must be regarded in 
modern Argentina as one of the aspects of the problem 
of developing the soil. The railway companies have 
been compelled to intervene directly in the work of 
colonization. In 1863 the Central Argentine received 
from the Government a strip of land three miles wide 
on each side of the line it was making, between Rosario 
and Cordoba, on condition that it colonized the land. 
The company had its own immigration agents and 
its colonizing staff, and it opened its first colonies 
west of Rosario between 1870 and 1872. This kind 
of concession is exceptional in Argentina. On the 
other hand, the irrigation law of 1909 obliges the 
railway companies to undertake, on behalf of the 
Government, the work that is necessary to develop 
irrigation in the areas they serve, such work being 
immediately reflected in an increase of population 
and traffic. In compliance with this law the Southern 
railway is constructing a canal which will water the 
whole valley of the Rio Negro below the confluence 
of the Neuquen. The Central Argentine and the 
Pacific also have undertaken to construct dams on 
the Rio Tercero and Rio Quinto, in the provinces of 
Cordoba and San Luis. 

As it is the essential function of a railway to 
convey the produce of the area it serves to the export- 
ing port, the problem of the relations between the 
administration of railways and the administration of 
ports is of primary importance. The chief ports 
served by different companies, such as Rosario and 

may compete for traffic with the Rosano and Tucumdn lines. In 
Patagonia, the continuation across the Andes of the line from San 
Antonio to Lake Nahuel Huapi has been considered. A pass has 
been found at a height of 4,000 feet. When this plan is carried out, 
the Trans- Andean from Nahuel Huapi would be in a position to com- 
pete successfully with the Trans-Andean from Uspallata, which is 
condemned by its elevation to remain a passenger line. These plans, 
still far from realization, do not deprive the Ramos Mejia lines of 
their character as colonization lines, entirely devoted at present to 
conveying the timber of the Chaco and the wool of Patagonia. 



Buenos Aires, may maintain their independence, but 
a secondary port will be at the mercy of the single 
line which conveys goods to it. In such circumstances 
the ports have become, in many cases, mere depen- 
dencies of the railways. The port of Colastine belongs 
to the railways of the Santa Fe province. The port 
of Bahia Blanca consists of a number of distinct ports 
constructed by the different railway companies, and 
run by them. Each of them ships the goods which 
it brings. The port Ingeniero White, which belongs to 
the Southern Company, was constructed in 1885, 
immediately after the opening of the line from Buenos 
Aires to Bahia Blanca. Puerto Galvan belongs to 
the Pacific Company. Puerto Belgrano is the port 
of the line from Rosario to Bahia Blanca. At Buenos 
Aires the Southern Railway Company has acquired 
control of the Buenos Aires Southern Dock Company. 
At La Plata it manages the docks. 

The spread of agricultural colonization was at first 
hampered by the cost of freightage which cereals 
could bear over an area with a radius of about 200 
miles from the ports. That is the figure given by 
Girola in the Investigacion Agricola of 1904. The 
period 1895-1905 saw the birth of a series of plans for 
making canals in the Pampean region for the purpose 
of transporting grain in the area which the railway 
did not seem able to serve economically. Not one 
of them was carried out, but the railways quickly 
enlarged their sphere of influence in the interior. There 
is, however, a reminiscence of this pause in coloniza- 
tion in what Argentinians call " the parabolic tariffs." 
The Argentine railways practically, apart from cases 
of competition with rival lines, use proportional tariffs 
up to a distance of 218 miles, and degressive tariffs 
beyond that limit. In this way the railways have 
helped in the conquest of the west. Degressive tariffs 
have certainly played a part in the spread of coloniza- 
tion during the years antecedent to 1912. They 


O so lOO ISO 2 00 km 


// IS impossible to give the entire system. Only the main lines are given. Of the narrow-gauge 
lines of the Pampean region only those which connect the system of northern Argentina with 
Buenos Aires are given. The map shows the double direction of the Pacific system from Villa 
Mercedes, to Buenos Aires and Bahi'a Blanca. It gives only an imperfect idea of the way in 
which the lines ending at the ports of the Paranu and the Rio de la Plata {Santa Fe, Rosario, 
San Nicolas, Buenos Aires and La Plata) overlap and cross each other. 

To face p. 226. 


have helped to mask the inferiority of the new land 
to the better land in the east.^ 

The rise in the value of land and the advance of 
colonization led, at each of those crises of develop- 
ment which characterize the recent history of Argentina, 
to a multiplication of railway concessions granted by 
the national Government and the various provincial 
authorities. These have to be bought up by the 
leading companies, as each of them wanted to keep 
exclusive control of the region in which it had estab- 
lished itself. This concentration could not be accom- 
plished in a perfectly methodical way, and the various 
systems now overlap, which is not to the interest 
of the companies. Thus Villa Maria, on the Central 
Argentine line from Rosario to Cordoba, is also served 
by a line belonging to the Santa Fe railways and by 
a line of the Pacific Company which puts it in com- 
munication with Buenos Aires. On the other hand, 
the Central Argentine penetrates to the very heart of 
the area of the Pacific at Junin. 

However, competition between the various com- 
panies has had the effect of dividing the Pampean 
plain into three great spheres of influence. The first, 
in the north, is that of the Central Argentine and the 
Buenos Aires y Rosario line. In 1908 the Argentine 
Government officially sanctioned the fusion of the two 
companies, though it had really been accomplished 
a few years before. The second sphere, in the south, is 
that of the Pacific, the attraction of which was the line 
from Buenos Aires to Villa Mercedes, and which in 
1907 bought the line from Villa Mercedes to Mendoza 
and the Trans-Andean, a natural continuation of its 
system. Moreover, in 1904 the Pacific absorbed the 
line from Bahia Blanca to the north-west, which has 
been linked up once more with its original system at 

' J. Lopez Maiian, El actual problema agrario (Buenos Aires, 1912, 
Ministerio de agricultura, Direccion General de agricultura y defensa 



Villa Mercedes. It thus has two outlets, to Buenos 
Aires and Bahia Blanca, and completely encloses the 
third sphere with its branches. The third sphere, 
which comprises the centre and south of the Pampean 
plain, is the domain of the Southern and Western 
Companies. In 1912 these two companies asked the 
Argentine Government to authorize them to amalga- 
mate. Although they withdrew their proposal in 
1914, in face of the conditions imposed upon them, 
they are still closely associated. Part of the traffic 
of the western lines of the Western passes over Southern 
lines at Carbue, and is shipped at the port Ingeniero 
White. At Buenos Aires also, and at La Plata, part 
of the Western Company's traffic in cereals and cattle 
uses the premises of the Southern Company. The 
Western and the Southern, jointly, bought in 1908, 
before it was finished, the narrow-gauge Midland of 
Buenos Aires line at Carbue, which was to cross their 
sphere of influence. It was opened in 1911. 

The importance of the transport of cereals in the 
life of the leading Argentine systems will be seen from 
the following figures. In p'^rcentages of the total of 
goods carried, both from the interior to the ports and 
vice versa, the tonnage of exported cereals was : — 















Pacific . . 










The figures are rather less for the Southern, which 
covers an area that has remained chiefly pastoral 
and, by means of its Rio Negro line, serves for part 
of the transport of cattle from Patagonia (cattle- 
transport on the Southern, average for the years 1913, 



1914 and 1916 : 17*2 per cent, of the total tonnage, 
19 per cent, of total receipts ; 1*4 per cent, of tonnage 
and 6*5 per cent, of receipts). They are higher for 
the Western, the only system that lies entirely in the 
Pampean region and has no continuations beyond it, 
as the Pacific has to Mendoza and the Central to 

The share of each company in the total traffic varies 
from year to year according to the harvest. Of the 
four to ten million tons of cereals carried every year, 
the greater part — about a third — falls to the Central 
Argentine, and one-sixth to the Southern. The Central 
Argentine carries the greater part of the maize and 
flax, the maize alone representing 26 per cent, of the 
total tonnage carried by the line, and the flax 5"6 
per cent. Of the other lines the Western alone carries 
any appreciable quantity of maize, which comes from 
the Junin district (19 per cent, of its tonnage, but only 
12 per cent, of its receipts, because of the slight dis- 
tances the stuff is carried). The transport of wheat 
is about equally divided amongst the four leading 
lines, but the proportion of it to total traffic is highest 
in the case of the Western (34'4 per cent, of total 
traffic). The Southern is the chief carrier of oats 
(9-8 per cent, of the total tonnage). The tonnage 
carried annually is particularly irregular in the case 
of the Central, on account of the irregularity of the 
maize crops, and the Pacific, because its lines north- 
west of Buenos Aires serve a wheat-area that is 
exposed to drought (wheat carried by the Pacific in 
1913, 15-9 per cent, of the total tonnage ; in 1914, 
27*2 per cent.). 

The clearing of the cereals gives the Argentine 
railways a delicate problem in the organization of 
traffic. The crops of flax, wheat and oats must be 
cleared in the four to six months following the harvest 
(December- January). The maize harvest, which is 
later, is also much slower ; it lasts the whole of the 


autumn. Hence the removal of the maize is spread 
over a long period, and sometimes the work of one 
year runs into that of the next. This gives the Central 
an advantage over the other lines. The wool also 
must, on account of its great value, be transferred to 
the ports speedily after the shearing ; but this is only 
a matter of about a hundred thousand tons.^ 

Export, however, is by no means the one source of 
traffic on the Argentine railways. Transport of goods 
for home consumption is chiefly a question of a large 
part of the wheat crop. Building materials also — 
bricks, lime and stone — are an important item on 
the various lines which link Buenos Aires with the 
Sierra de Cordoba and the Sierra de Tandil. In 1913 
the Southern line carried 1,134,000 tons of minerals, 
including 997,000 tons of stone and 101,000 tons of 
lime from the Sierra de Tandil and 34,000 tons of 
salt from the salt-mines of Lavalle, between Bahia 
Blanca and the Colorado. In the same year, the 
Pacific, Central Argentine, Central Cordoba and State 
railway carried 880,000 tons of minerals (half being 
lime) from the Sierra de Cordoba. 2 All the timber 
carried on the lines of northern Argentina, except the 
quebracho from the banks of the Parana, is for home 
use : sleepers, fence-posts, firewood and charcoal are 
the chief items on most of the lines in the scrub. The 
war has checked railway construction and reduced 
the use of sleepers, but it has also deprived Argentina 
of combustible minerals and increased the transport 
of firewood. Even on railways like the Pacific and 
Central Argentine, which have very few of their lines 
on the scrub, the tonnage of wood carried is 6 per 

' The war and the difficulties of marine freightage have lessened 
the seriousness of the problem of carrying goods rapidly by rail in 

2 The transport of mineral stuff, apart from salt, has been greatly 
reduced by the war. In 1916 it was only 637,000 tons for the Southern 
and 157,000 tons for the whole of the lines of the Central Argentine, 
Pacific, Central Cordoba, and State. 


cent, of the whole (average for 1913, 1914 and 1916), 
and the proportion rises to 30 per cent, of the total 
tonnage on the Central Cordoba. For several com- 
panies the sugars of Tucuman and the wines of 
Mendoza are an important element of their receipts, 
not so much on account of the tonnage as the high 
cost of freightage and the great distance to the centres 
of consumption in the Pampean region. The carriage 
of wine and casks brings the Pacific 38"3 per cent, of 
its receipts (1913-14-16). The transport of sugar on 
the Central Argentine in a normal year amounts to 
5 per cent, of its receipts. On the Central Cordoba 
the tonnage of sugar-cane and sugar carried amounted 
in 1914, a year of exceptional harvest, to 42 per cent, 
of the total tonnage, and was still 20 per cent, in 1916, 
a year of very poor crop. The supplying of meat to 
the market of Buenos Aires and the Pampean area, 
with its dense population, means a good deal of long- 
distance traffic in cattle ; the refrigerators taking the 
better cattle of the adjoining region for the foreign 
market, and the slaughter houses of Buenos Aires 
being forced to content themselves with inferior beasts 
reared in the provinces and the adjoining districts. 

The importance of these currents of internal traffic 
has made itself felt in the organization of the Argentine 
system. It has made it necessary for each system 
to have not only an outlet to an exporting town, but 
a direct connection with the chief centre of home 
consumption, Buenos Aires. The narrow-gauge system, 
which until the end of the nineteenth century had 
been restricted to the northern half of Argentine 
territory, north of the latitude of Rosario, developed 
in the province of Buenos Aires after 1900, and 
ventured to compete in the carriage of cereals with 
the broad-gauge system (Company of the Province of 
Buenos Aires and Provincial railway of La Plata). 
This system connected with the narrow-gauge lines 
of the north. The Central Cordoba, which had reached 


Rosario in 1912 and so had escaped the need to 
transfer its export-traihc at Cordoba to the broad- 
gauge, began immediately afterwards to effect a direct 
communication with Buenos Aires (Central Cordoba, 
extension to Buenos Aires, opened in 1913). The 
line from Rosario to Buenos Aires of the Province of 
Buenos Aires Company also serves to carry trains of 
the Province of Santa Fe Company, which is closely 
associated with it. The medium-gauge lines of Meso- 
potamia also have effected a communication with 
Buenos Aires by means of a ferry-boat that plies on 
the Parana between Ibicuy and Zarate, and by using 
a section of the Buenos Aires Central. 

The concentration of narrow-gauge and medium- 
gauge lines seemed to be issuing in a complete fusion 
of their interests in 1913. The Argentine Railway 
Company got control of the lines of Entre Rios, 
Corrientes and the Paraguay. It promoted the 
development and extension of the Central Cordoba, 
and it also had large interests in the French com- 
panies of the Buenos Aires and Santa Fe provinces. 
All the narrow-gauge lines would have concentrated 
in its hands if it had been able to get the State rail- 
way. The broad-gauge line from Rosario to Puerto 
Belgrano had, as its interest conflicted with those of 
the great broad-gauge Enghsh systems, joined the 
narrow-gauge group engineered by the Argentine rail- 
way. But the amalgamation attempted by the 
Argentine railways did not succeed, and, after its 
failure, the companies it had temporarily brought 
together resumed their independence. 

The river-route of the Parana has sometimes been 
an auxiliary, at other times a rival, of the railways. 

Until the line from Buenos Aires to Rosario was 
opened in 1886, the navigation of the Parana was 
the only link between the system of northern Argentina 
and that of the Buenos Aires province. Before the 
line was completed, the company had established a 


service of boats on the Parana, and in this way it 
kept up a traffic in goods consigned to stations on 
the Central Argentine, to be transferred at Rosario. 
These combinations of railway and river service dis- 
appeared when the line from Buenos Aires to Rosario 
was finished. 

In regard to export traffic the railways have not 
attempted to compete with the river anywhere where 
it is open to maritime navigation ; they have merely 
been concerned to connect with it. On the other 
hand, the railway and the river are rivals for the 
home traffic and the traffic of the upper districts which 
sea-going boats do not reach. Before the time of the 
railways the river had taken all the goods traffic, but 
had tolerated on its left bank a post-road between 
Santa Fe, Corrientes and Asuncion. The railway 
still has the advantage over the river in regard to 
speed (in carrying passengers between Rosario and 
Buenos Aires, and live cattle from the Chaco and the 
Paraguay for Buenos Aires or the salting works of 
the lower Uruguay). Even in regard to certain kinds 
of heavy goods — quebracho timber — the river has not 
secured a monopoly, and there is a good deal of 
transport by rail. 


The use of the river before steam navigation — Floods — The river 
plain — The bed of the Paran4 and its changes — The estuary 
and its shoals — Maritime navigation — The boats on the Parang. 

The problem of the use of tne river-routes of the 
Parana and the Paraguay is not of interest to 
Argentina alone. It affects the whole history of 
colonization in South America. The very name of 
the Rio de la Plata is a reminiscence of the anxieties 
of the early navigators who landed there, chiefly in 
search of a route to the mineral districts of the Andes 
[Plata = silver]. It is remarkable that the Amazon, 
which opens a more direct and better route to the 
Andes, was never used for reaching Peru. It was at 
the most, and only occasionally, used as a return- 
route, whereas expeditions to the Cordillera were 
organized on the banks of the Parana during the 
whole of the sixteenth century. The routes linking 
the Parana and the Paraguay with the tableland 
furrow the whole plain of the Pampa and the Chaco, 
from the latitude of the estuary to about i6° S. lat. 
(expedition of Nuflo de Chavez in 1557). An especially 
close network starts from the river between 18° and 
22° S. lat. and ends at Santa Cruz, the most northern 
centre established by the Spaniards on the plain, at 
the foot of the Andes, as a consequence of the use of 
the Parana.^ 

' There is still a certain amount of goods traffic in this latitude 
between the river and the Santa Cruz district by the Puerto Suarez 
and Puerto Pacheco tracks. 




Spanish colonization, however, did not succeed in 
making permanent settlements on the Chaco. The 
Indians, who were masters of it, disputed their 
passage, and the only practicable route was the 
southernmost of the roads to the tableland, south of 
the Rio Salado, which ends at the estuary. From 
this time onward the prosperity of Buenos Aires 
eclipsed that of Asuncion. The river ceased to be a 
great continental route. 

The division of the Parana between the Spanish 
and the Portuguese was a check upon the full develop- 
ment of the river-route. The Portuguese held the 
upper part of its basin, which now belongs to Brazil. 
They expelled the Spanish missionaries from the upper 
Parana about the middle of the seventeenth century, 
and made themselves masters of the Paraguay north 
of 20° S. lat. Their forts at Coimbre and Albuquerque 
prevented any from ascending. D'Azara insists that 
it would have been Spain's interest to disarm these 
forts ; it would have enabled them to go up the river 
as far as the Spanish missions to the Mojos and the 
Chiquitos. On their side, the Portuguese only used 
the upper section of the river, where it is joined by 
the Paulist road north of the Coimbre, as a means of 
access to the gold mines of the Matto Grosso. Even 
now, although the Parana is open to every flag, the 
development of the river-route is not independent of 
political conditions. In making the railway from 
Saint Paul to Corumba, and so creating on its own 
territory a means of direct communication with the 
upper Paraguay, Brazil diverts from the lower dis- 
tricts part of the traffic which ought normally to go 
there. Again, the ports of southern Brazil and the 
lines which go to them try to attract to the Atlantic 
the produce of the basins of the Uruguay and the 
upper Parana, which would have followed the thread 
of the river to foster the trade of Buenos Aires if the 
frontiers had been fixed otherwise. 


Before the Revolution the river-trade was confined 
to exchanges between the Misiones and Paraguay on 
the one hand, and Buenos Aires and the Andean 
provinces on the other. After the extinction of the 
missions Paraguay was the chief centre of traffic on 
the river. At the close of the eighteenth century it 
had a fairly large population. According to D'Azara, 
it amounted to 97,000, and 47,000 for the area of 
the former Missions (Misiones), while Buenos Aires, 
Santa Fe, Entre Rios and Corrientes had not more 
than 103,000 inhabitants collectively. Paraguay 
exported tobacco, mate and timber by the river. The 
Buenos Aires Estano received 800 tons of tobacco a 
year. The exports of mate from Paraguay to Peru, 
Chile and the interior provinces amounted to 1,725 tons, 
and 2,250 tons went to Buenos Aires. The timber 
came mostly from the Tebicuary, where the angadas 
(loads of timber) were formed. The chief constructive 
sheds also were on the Tebicuary. Boats of twenty to 
200 tons were launched there ; and they had armed 
boats, when they went down the river, to detect 
ambushes of the Indians, who were masters of the 
right bank north of Santa Fe. 

The development of navigation on tne Parana 
during the first half of the nineteenth century was 
checked by the disturbances and wars of the period 
of the emancipation and unification of Argentina. 
The river was blockaded several times and traffic 
interrupted. Only a few smuggling schooners suc- 
ceeded in getting through the side branches, which 
the ships stationed in the river could not watch. 
Robertson escaped the Spanish vessels in this way. 
The picture which D'Orbigny has given us of the life 
of the river belongs to the year 1827. At that time 
the estuary was blockaded by tne Brazilian fleet in 
the whole area of the delta as far as San Pedro. Piracy 
was so rife, and the insecurity so great, on the Uruguay 
and the Parana, that few ventured as far as Buenos 


Aires, the ships being linked in convoys. Up stream, 
Corrientes was the limit ot navigation. The dictator 
Francis closed tne Paraguay, and even the small boats 
no longer sailed on the upper Parana, along the frontier 
of Paraguay. The Coirentinos, who spoke Guarani, 
could merely get permission at rare intervals to send 
a few boats up river. Armed boats convoyed these as 
far as Neembucu, and they returned with hides and 
mate. Corrientes thus became the market-centre of 
the upper river and replaced Asuncion in the trade. 
The flotilla on the Parana included flat-bottomed 
barges, which were only used in coming down, and 
strong keeled ships — schooners, sloops and brigs — 
with their ropes made of leather. Down stream there 
was a little more diversity in the traffic. The island 
sent cargoes of firewood and charcoal to Santa Fe 
and Buenos Aires. The orchards of the delta pro- 
vided Buenos Aires with oranges and peaches. Hides 
for export were shipped at Goya and Santa Fe. But 
the chief freight was lime from La Bajada, which was 
burned in the kilns on the Barranca, at the outcrops 
of the beds of conchiferous limestone. 

The navigation was fairly easy, the journey from 
Corrientes to Buenos Aires (675 miles) lasting, as a 
rule, from fifteen to twenty days. Going up, the 
time was more irregular. They had to stop when 
there was no south wind, or a little progress was made 
by hauhng {silgar). D'Orbigny took a month to 
travel up.^ In 1822, before the war with Brazil, 
there were 651 boats entered at Buenos Aires for 
coasting trade on the rivers and 1,035 ^^ San Fernando 
or on the Tigre, the advance port of Buenos Aires. 
In 1833 Isabelle put at one thousand the number of 
vessels at work on the Parana and the Uruguay. 

' The local south winds which help the voyage upward below Rosario 
may be due to the high temperature of the water of the river ; this 
also gives rise on the lower Paran4 to thick fog of which warning 
is given. 



In 1841 Rosas forbade navigation on the river. 
There was then a double blockade checking the trade 
of Argentina. The Franco-British fleet closed the 
Rio de la Plata and blockaded Buenos Aires, where 
the Government of Rosas was established. In addi- 
tion, Rosas's troops on the barranca of the right bank 
prevented any from going up the Parana, and cut off 
the interior provinces from the rest of the world. The 
injury then done to interests which were already 
fully self-conscious may be gathered from the agita- 
tion provoked by the decision of France and England in 
1845 to break ttie blockade of the river. A convoy was 
at once organized at Montevideo, consisting of no less 
than ninety-eight ships, of 6,900 tons in all (MacKann). 
It went up the Parana under the protection of war- 
ships, which removed the chains shmg across it by 
Rosas. The convoy dispersed up river as soon as 
it was out of range of Rosas. But it had needed so 
great an effort that the attempt could not be made 
again before the fall of Rosas. 

The closing of the Parana compelled a diversion of 
the trade of Paraguay toward the south-east. It 
crossed the isthmus of Misiones, between the Parana 
and the Uruguay, and passed down the Uruguay. At 
this time the whole commercial activity of Paraguay 
was concentrated at Itapua, on the upper Parana. 
The prosperity of the Uruguay was some compensa- 
tion for the misery that reigned on the Parana. The 
populations of Paysandu and Montevideo greatly 

In 1852, at the fall of Rosas, the modern period 
began for the Parana. The river-population changed 
rapidly. It ceased to be exclusively creole. Basques, 
and later Italians, had settled upon the Uruguay ten 
years before, and they now spread along the Parana. 
In 1850 MacKann found fifty vessels, of 20 to 100 
tons, belonging to Italians at Santa Fe. This wave 
of immigration coincided with the development of 


relations between the Parana and the port of Monte- 
video. From 1852 to i860 Buenos Aires was isolated, 
and it remained outside the economic life of Argentina. 
Montevideo took its place. Urquiza's administration 
sought, in addition, to establish direct maritime com- 
munication between over-seas ports and the ports 
on the river : Gualeguy in Entre Rios, and Rosario 
in Santa Fe. Under a system of preferential duties 
(1857-59), which reduced the burden on goods carried 
by the river, Rosario grew rapidly, and between 1853 
and 1858 increased its population from 4,000 to 22,700. 
The period from 1852 to i860 was also the time when 
steam-navigation was developing, and this doubled 
the value of the river-route. From i860 onward 
Buenos Aires was connected by regular services of 
steamboats with Rosario, Santa Fe, Corrientes, 
Asuncion and Cuyaba. On the upper Parana goods 
(timber, tobacco and oranges) were still carried by 
sailing boats between Corrientes and Apip^, where 
they stopped at the commencement of the rapids. 
Steamboats did not sail up the rapids of Apipe until 
1868. 1 From 1850 to i860 there were repeated 
explorations of the Salado and the Bermejo, as the 
interior provinces hoped to be able to find a con- 
nection with the vivifying artery of the Parana (voyage 
of Page on the Salado from Salta in 1855, and of 
Lavarello on the Bermejo in 1855 and 1863). 

In i860 the entry of Buenos Aires into the Con- 
federation re-established the normal condition of free 
competition between Buenos Aires and Rosario. From 
that time the life of the river reflects the advance of 
colonization in the Pampean region. The Parana 
became the highway for the export of cereals. 

The two rivers, of which the Rio de la Plata forms 
the common estuary, differ considerably in their 
features. The Uruguay has irregular floods, especially 

' According to Rengger, sailing ships sometimes succeeded in crossing 
the Salto d'Apip6. 


in autumn (May) and at the end of the winter 
(August-October). Low water is in summer (January- 
February). Its basin belongs to the temperate zone, 
and does not extend northward as far as the area of 
tropical summer-rain. The Uruguay also differs from 
the Parana in its low capacity for transport and 
alluvial deposit. While the Parana has built up a 
vast deltaic plain, the Uruguay ends in an ordinary 
estuary, with rocky or sandy bed and clear water. 
The estuary of the Uruguay is 130 miles long and five 
or six miles wide. The eastern shore is rocky and 
broken. The Argentine shore is low. It is formed in 
the south by the deposits of the delta of the Parana, 
while further north, from Gualeguacha to Concepcion, 
the hills of Entre Rios are hidden behind a screen of 
flat islands covered with palms, formed by the stuff 
brought by the streams of Entre Rios. The river- 
floods are lost in the great sheet of the estuary. The 
tide in the estuary or a flood in the Parana is enough 
to turn the current. 

Maritime navigation goes beyond the estuary and 
beyond Paysandu, as far as the rapids which prevent 
further advance at Salto. The twin towns of Con- 
cordia (right bank) and Salta (left bank) mark the 
limit of navigation on the inner course of the river. 
It begins again above the falls, at Monte Caseros, 
from which the river-boats go to San Tome and occa- 
sionally to Concepcion, Small ships go higher, as 
far as Salto Grande in Misiones (27° 20' S, lat.).i 

The navigable system of the Parana is four times 
as large. The first survey of the river was made 
about the middle of the nineteenth century by the 
British Navy. At the beginning of the twentieth 
century the Argentine Government took up the study 
of the bed and the peculiarities of the Parana, and 

I At one time the boats on the upper Uruguay saved transport 
by going from Salto to Arapehy, midway between Monte Caseros 
and Concordia (see Isabelle). 


the Ministry of Public Works published a map, on 
the scale i : 100,000, of the course of the river between 
Posadas and San Pedro, at the beginning of the delta. 
A precise survey was made, and twenty-six fluvio- 
metrical scales were established, the zero of which 
represents mean low- water. ^ Transverse soundings 
were taken at equal distances of 670 and 1,000 feet, 
the distance being reduced to 160 and even 80 feet 
at critical points. Thanks to this work, the Parana 
is now, no doubt, the best known of all rivers of that 

Its output is estimated at 6,000 cubic metres a 
second at mean low-water, in the latitude of Rosario, 
and 25,000 to 30,000 cubic metres a second during 
flood at a height of six metres above low- water. 2 Its 
features bear the mark of its tropical origin. The 
tropical character is typical on the Paraguay, which 
is, by its situation in the central South-American 
plain, the real continuation of the lower Parana. The 
slightness of the fall of the Paraguay, however, and 
the extent of the marshes over which it spreads in 
Brazil and Paraguay, have the effect of regulating 
and retarding the flood, which only attains its maxi- 
mum at Asuncion in May. The flood of the Paraguay 
extends the period of high water on the lower 
Parana until the end of autumn. The upper 
Parana has most of its basin in the tropical zone of 

' It is as well to notice that the profile determined by the altitude 
of the zero of these different scales, or the low-water profile, is of a 
purely theoretical character. The river is never at low-water over 
its whole course. The real profile is always varied by slight move- 
ments of flood and ebb. 

> Observations of the sediment held in the water have been made 
at Campana, 32 miles from the estuary. At this point the Parana 
only holds in suspension fine particles of clay, but sand travels slowlv 
along its bed. The weight of the clay in suspension varies from 179 
grammes per cubic metre in March during the flood, to 42 grammes 
at low-water in July. The stuff mostly comes from the Bermejo, 
which carries 5 kilogrammes of sediment per cubic metre. The load 
of the Parang is much heavier than that of the Uruguay, but far 
lower than that of the Mississippi. 



summer rain. But its behaviour is also influenced 
by the spring or autumn rains of the southern part 
of the Brazihan tableland. Its floods are sudden and 
violent. They reach a height of sixty or seventy leet 
in the region of the confluence of the Yguassu. They 
sweep rapidly down stream, and reach the lower 
Parana before the flood of the Paraguay, which they 
hold back. 

From Posadas the flood-waves reach Corrientes in 
five days (235 miles). From Corrientes they reach 
Parana in eight days (380 miles), travelling about 
two miles an hour. That is one-third the speed of 
the current, as the flood is retarded, and more or less 
absorbed, by the ramifications of the broader bed in 
which it moves. 

At Bajada Grande the lowest water is in September. 
The flood appears in December or January, though 
sometimes in October or November. The maximum 
is in March or April. The rise is rapid at first, but 
it gradually moderates, and the level of the water is 
raised about one metre per month during three 
months. It then sinks in corresponding order. The 
ebb is often interrupted in June, and sometimes as 
late as August, by a sudden leap upward of the curve, 
representing an ascensional movement of the water 
three times as rapid as that of the main flood (one 
metre in ten days). The level reached in this late flood 
is sometimes higher than that of the normal flood 
in April or May. The range of the ordinary 
flood-movements is from ten to sixteen feet. Excep- 
tional floods rise to a height of twenty-three feet above 
the low-water mark. 

The curves established for the years 1908 to 19 10 
by the Argentine hydrographical service enable us to 
analyse the mechanism of the flood with a good deal 
of confidence. The beginning of the flood at Bajada 
Grande in October corresponds to the first flood of 
the upper Parana. During this first phase the curve 


of the Bajada is parallel (thirteen days later) to that 
of Posadas. There is the same parallelism in Novem- 
ber, December and January. If the summer rains 
are light on the upper Parana, the flood is late on 
the lower Parana, and the water is still low there in 
December (o-20 below the low- water mark on Decem- 
ber 31, 1910). At the beginning of March, before 
the maximum of the flood, the curve of Bajada Grande 
differs from the curve of Posadas. It is the time 
when the flood of the lower river is caused by the 
rise of the Paraguay. The secondary floods of June 
and July again have their origin in the upper Parana, 
but, as they are added to the flood of the Paraguay 
on the lower river, they reach a higher level there 
than at Posadas ; the difference gradually disappears 
as the flood of the Paraguay subsides. It is the 
addition of the late floods of the upper Parana to the 
flood of the Paraguay that causes on the lower river 
the abnormal floods that occur there at irregular 
intervals (in 1825, 1833, 1858, 1878, 1905 and 1917). 

Below the Bajada the height of the floods pro- 
gressively declines. On the estuary they are no 
longer perceptible ; variations of level are due entirely 
to the tides. In the channels of the delta of the 
Parana the tide does not reverse the current as it 
does in the estuary of the Uruguay, but it causes a 
slight rise of the water ; and this has been observed 
sometimes, at very low water, as far as Rosario. 

It is near Corpus, about forty miles above Posadas, 
that the upper Parana escapes from the restraint of 
the Brazilian tableland, which imprisons its valley, 
from the falls of the Guayra, in a deep fissure between 
lofty basalt cliffs. Below Posadas the river leaves 
the region of hills and red earth. Below Corrientes 
it flows everywhere over its own alluvia. Even above 
Corrientes its form has surprising characteristics of 
youth. The precise survey done on its banks has 
brought to light a very distinct break of its fall above 


Villa Urquiza, about 400 miles from Buenos Aires. 
The fall, which from Corrientes onward remains between 
sixty and forty millimetres per kilometre, sinks suddenly 
to thirteen over a stretch of twenty-five miles, and 
then rises again to thirty to forty-five millimetres. » 
Below Rosario the mean descent is twelve millimetres 
to the kilometre, below San Pedro only six. 

Above Corrientes the width of the main arm of the 
Parana varies, as a rule, from 2,600 to 6,500 feet. 
The width of the river-plain over which the floods 
spread is still more irregular. Between Santa Fe and 
Parana, where it is especially narrow, it is still ten 
miles wide. Lower down it gradually broadens to a 
width of sixty-five miles at the head of the estuary. 
The scenery is not the same in all sections of it. The 
vegetation on the islands is richer and more varied 
up river, and tropical essences (laurel-timbo) are 
found below the Bajada, forming clumps of trees 
covered with creepers. 

But the different scenes of the river region are 
most of all due to different conditions of erosion and 
formation. Above Rosario the configuration is due to 
floods. Each succeeding flood alters it and leaves 
some trace of itself in the topography. The beds of 
sand that it lays down are fixed by rushes and float- 
ing weeds, then by willows {Salix humboldtiana) . 
This screen of vegetation encourages accretion, and 
the edges tend to rise higher. In the middle of the 
island are low, marshy lands. The irregularity of the 
alluvial deposits causes marked undulations in the 
whole region of the river, and everywhere gives rise 

' The district on the right bank of the Parana, above Santa Fe 
and Parana, seems to be due to a recent subsidence. The river is, 
on the other hand, compelled to effect active erosion in crossing the 
high lands between Santa Fe and Buenos Aires. It is curious that 
the break or fall at Villa Urquiza occurs precisely above the bend 
of the Parana. A less marked break has been recognized further 
north, in the latitude of Lavalle, above the Goya bend. It seems 
that the diminution in the excavation of the valley is due to the erosion 
which the current effects laterally on the cliffs of the left bank. 

, ---SJi 






Banks and islands partially fixed by Vegetation. 

Photograph by Widmayer. 

■— ws 

llli: HAkl^AM .] Al I'AKAN.V (I-AMKi: KIos), LI-l'T lIAXK. 

It is composed of clays and of beds of conchiferous terrestrial limestcne, which have supplied 
the Jime-kdns for more than a century. Fhotcgraph by Boote. 


To lace p. 244. 


to alternate beds of clay and sand. Below Rosario 
the river gradually loses its power. The islands become 
more stable and flatter. Clumps of willow and spiny 
ceibos {Erythrina cristagalli) still cover the edges of 
them, and sometimes spread over the interior. But 
as the climate is now less humid, the vegetation fixes 
the soil less firmly, and the wind becomes the chief 
sculptor of the landscape. It heaps up the sand 
during the low-water season, and makes dunes which 
rise above the level of the greatest floods. These 
dunes form an unbroken line along the land in the 
southern part of Entre Rios, in the north of the main 
arm, with ridges at right angles, advancing toward 
the south, which rest upon the river clay ; like the 
one which the Ibicuy railway follows across the flood- 
able area. The cattle of the district take refuge on 
the dunes during floods. During periods of drought, 
on the other hand, they retain a quantity of water, 
and this is drawn from surface-wells at their base. 

The limits of the zone of the river are clearly 
marked on the whole of the lower Parana. It is 
enclosed on both sides by high barrancas (cliffs), 
vertical in places where the main current washes 
their feet, but sloping slightly where there is only a 
secondary arm with little erosive power. The cliff 
is broken only at the confluences of small valleys, 
the flat, filled-up bottoms of which are on the level 
of the alluvial plain of the Parana. The cliffs are 
at their highest in the district of Villa Parana, where 
they rise in places to a height of 300 feet. On the 
right bank the cliffs show a section of the upper 
layers of the Pampean clays. On the left bank there 
are aeolian clays only at the top of them. Below 
these are Tertiary marine strata (marls and sand- 
stones with beds of shells). The cliffs of the left 
bank stretch northwards, with a few breaks, as far 
as Corrientes, and even into Misiones. Their height 
gradually diminishes, and the Tertiary marine strata 


are replaced by granitic red sandstone.^ On the 
right bank the height of the cliffs gradually diminishes 
up river. They are still conspicuous at the confluence 
of the Carcarafia, but at Santa Fe they rise only about 
thirty-four feet. North of 31° S. lat., and for some 
distance beyond Pilcomayo, the plain of the Chaco is 
very low, and it is impossible to define exactly the limit 
of the alluvial zone of the Parana. The fine clays, 
grey and white, which form the soil of the Chaco, 
reach the left bank north of Corrientes, in the esteros 
of Neembucu. The red sandstone hills of the Asuncion 
district rise like an archipelago out of this level bed 
of lacustrine deposits. 

There is no obstacle to navigation in the entire 
stretch from Posadas to the falls of the Guayra on 
the Parana and the Salto Grande on the Yguassa. 
Sixteen miles below Posadas the Parana passes through 
a series of graduated rapids for about sixty miles 
(1,467 kil. to 1,558 kil. from Buenos Aires) wrongly 
called the Salto de Apipe. The current then rises to 
a speed of eight knots, and the depth is three feet at 
low water. These rapids are due to beds of mela- 
phyre, which emerge amongst the granitic sandstone, 
and the water makes its way between large rocky 
islands. At Ituzaingo (1,455 kil.) the current loses 
force. There is, however, still a rocky bottom lower 
down, for ninety miles, at a depth of five feet. Below 
this the rock only appears on the left bank, and in 
a few ridges near the bank, or in isolated reefs which 
it has been easy to mark with buoys. 

From Corrientes to La Paz the river flows from 
north to south at the feet of the Corrientes cliffs. 
These line the main stream between Corrientes and 
Empedrado, and for thirty-five miles south of Bella- 

' In the space between the frontier of Entre Rios and the Rio 
Empedrado, south of Corrientes, the clifts expose, above the red sand- 
stone, beds of sand and clay, iiuvial alluvia left by former beds of 
the Parana, the traces of which can be followed from the north-east 
to the south-west diagonally across the province of Corrientes. 


vista. In the latitude of Riachucho, especially about 
Bellavista, the cliffs form a series of creeks and capes, 
in which the west winds create a heavy sea that was 
dreaded by ships of light draught coming down the 
river. North of Bellavista, and for more than a 
hundred miles south of Goya, the main stream is 
separated from the cliff by a series of alluvial islands ; 
behind these are lateral arms {riachos) into which 
pour the rivers of Corrientes. These arms were much 
used by the early navigators. 

Between Esquina and La Paz the main bed, which 
is not in touch with the land on either of its banks, 
flows in a meandering path for some seven miles, the 
scale of the bends being double that of the meander- 
ing of the Paraguay north of the confluence. The 
islands are very small, and are strung in a rosary at 
the top of each bend. The depth is sixty feet at the 
top of the bend. The shallows are in a line with the 
islands at the point where the current runs evenly 
again before the next curve. The depth here is seven, 
and sometimes even five feet.^ These shallows change 
their places quickly, and it is not always the same 
bad spot that determines the maximum draught for 
ships that are to be used in this section. This migra- 
tion of the shallows is very different from the per- 
manence of the rocky bottom of the stretch between 
Corrientes and Posadas. 

From La Paz to Parana the main course is outlined 
by the Entre Rios cliffs. There is no further meander- 
ing. The cliffs of hard rock offer far more resistance 
than the soft alluvia over which the river wanders 
freely. The permanence of the bed in front of the 
cliffs leads to a depth of as much as eighty feet. Only 
here and there a fringe of alluvial stuff separates the 

' In point of fact, the ridge is lower at the time of low water, when 
the current is concentrated in the main channel, so that one always 
finds one or two feet greater depth there at low water than soundings 
t^ken at high water would lead one to expect. 


channel for a time from the cliff. These curves seem, 
as a rule, to coincide with the confluence of rivers, 
which bring a heavy load of clay from the tableland ; 
as, does, for instance, the San Feliciano, north of 
Hernandarias. They are marked by shallows, in 
strong contrast to the great depths of the straight 
sections. The San Feliciano paso, which is twelve 
feet broad to-day, was only six feet broad in 1908. 
It appeared on Sullivan's map in 1847.^ 

Below Parana, as far as the estuary, the careful 
observations that have been made since 1903 on the 
movement of the river have enabled us to learn some 
of its laws. 2 We can distinguish four sections of 
unequal length. From Parana to Diamante the river 
remains in touch with the cliffs of the left bank. It is 
not straight ; it describes a series of linked crescents 
of equal radius, which seem to be traces of so many 
meanders. Only one in two of the windings of the 
cliff is followed by the channel. The wandering of the 
river is confined within limits as in a fixed mould. 
The Paracao shallow, which for a long time pre- 
vented ships from reaching Santa Fe (gradually 
deepened by dredging from eight to nineteen feet 
between 1907 and 1911) is at the angle where two 
of these curves meet. On the right bank the secondary 
arms continue to follow the river (Parana viejo, 
Riacho de Coronda).3 

' A little above its actual position. 

» In studying the variations of tlie bed of the Parani it is necessary 
to avoid comparing maps drawn at dates separated by long intervals. 
The differences of such maps are such that they do not enable us to 
follow the processes by which the actual forms have been derived 
from earlier forms. The analogies which they show are sometimes 
due, not to the permanence of the topography, but to the return of 
a complete cycle of changes, or of conditions analogous to the earlier 

3 The secondary arms of the right bank, north of Santa Fe, were 
not explored until 1870. Sullivan's map (1847) only mentions the 
Riacho de San Jeronimo, which is visible for a short distance below 
20° S. lat. The right bank was the domain of the Indians, and the 
Correntinos would not venture near it. In 1870 ships began to use 


Below Diamante the river leaves the cliff on the 
left bank and slants across the alluvial plain to the 
clift on the right bank, which it reaches at San 
Lorenzo. Over the whole of its thirty miles width it 
resumes the freedom and regularity of features which 
it had above La Paz. A comparison of the successive 
maps of the river shows that the scheme of its move- 
ments, which one would be tempted to draw up with 
a regular migration of the islands and loops down 
river, would not be accurate. The changes of the 
bed of the river are essentially due to variations in 
the volume of the different arms, which are constantly 
changing their size and adapting their shape to the 
body of water that flows in them. The radius of the 
curve of each arm is proportional to its volume. A 
long island is formed between two arms of equal size 
which both describe symmetrical curves. If the 
volume of one of them is reduced, its original curve 
is replaced by sinuosities of smaller radius, and these 
nibble the edges of the island and give it an irregular 
shape. If the volume increases again, the winding 
bed is abandoned and becomes a dead bed, and a 
larger meander begins. The track followed by the 
ships then breaks up into a series of meanders over 
a course of about eight miles and a half, and this 
means the concentration in a single channel of the 
greater part of the water of the river, and in narrower 
bends in the sections where the current is divided 
between several arms. 

From San Lorenzo to San Pedro the river flows by 
the cliff of the right bank. It is remarkably regular, 
and has only one slight bend : an exceptionally good 
site, on which the town of Rosario is built. At almost 
equal intervals, differing by only about ten to thirteen 
miles, the river leaves the cliff, and is separated from 

the San Javier arm, on which many colonies arose. Further north 
the Parang Mini has been used since 1890 for exporting quebracho 


it by an alluvial strand, or by an insular zone a few 
miles in width. ^ Below this bend the current again 
touches the cliff and landing is easy. The small, older 
ports of the Parana — Constitucion, San Nicolas, Puerto 
Obligado and San Pedro — are built on similar sites. 
It does not seem that the islands at the foot of the 
cliff tend to extend downward in front of these ports ; 
the points where the river reaches the cliff are fixed. 
The depth is often considerable at the foot of the 
cliff (138 feet opposite Puerto Obligado). The shoals 
are distributed irregularly at the bends, where the 
channel moves away from the cliff. They all have 
to-day a minimum depth of twenty-one feet.^ On the 
left bank the secondary arms sprawl over the alluvial 
plain for thirty-five miles north of the river. 

The delta begins at San Pedro. The Parana Guazu, 
or main arm, leaves the cliff on the right bank and 
passes to the Uruguayan bank opposite Carmelo. 
The Parana de las Palmas, which branches off from 
it to the south and passes before Campana and Zarate 
at the foot of the tableland, is deep and easy to navi- 
gate, but it is closed at the bottom of the estuary 
by a six-foot bar, which makes it a sort of blind alley 
opened only above. The arms of the zone of the 
delta differ from those of the river-zone proper in the 
irregularity of their course. Flowing between long 
islands, they sometimes lie in straight stretches and 
at other times in meanders or almost perfect buckles. 
The channels of the southern part of the delta, near 
Buenos Aires, are called caracoles (snails) on account 
of their winding shape. The weakness of the current, 

' As between La Paz and Parang, it seems possible to show some 
relation between these alluvial stretches at the foot of the cliff and 
the confluence of the small valleys of the Pampean plain. 

» The Paso Paraguayo, which has cost the Argentine hydrographic 
service most work, did not exist at the middle of the nineteenth cen- 
tury. It seems that the channel then kept to the cliff as far as 
Benavidez, and was continued as far as the source of the Paran4 
Pavon by a very pronounced buckle, of which the Monriel lagoon 
is a scar. In 1895 the Paso was only fifteen feet deep. 



which is held up by the tide, is seen also in the dis- 
tribution of the greater depths ; they are no longer 
uniformly found along the concave edge of the bends, 
but are scattered irregularly. On the Parana Guazu 
a depth of 130 feet has been ascertained. Its minimum 
depth is twenty-two feet. 

The study of the estuary may be taken separately 
from that of the river. It consists of three parts, 
unequal in size, which open with increasing breadth 
toward the Atlantic. The upper Rio de la Plata, 
above Colonia and Punta Lara, has a width of about 
thirty-five miles. The middle Plata, twice as wide, 
extends to the latitude of Montevideo and Punta de 
las Piedras. Then the outer harbour opens between 
Maldonado and Punta Rasa. The water is still fresh 
in the middle estuary up to eighty miles below Buenos 

The bottom is alhivial except in the channels between 
Martin Garcia and Colonia. ^ Differently from up the 
river, where the channels have sandy bottoms, while 
the banks are of fine clay, the channels of the estuary 
have bottoms of mud and clay. In the outer harbour 
the pilots recognize the approach of banks by the 
sand which is brought up by the sounding-lead. The 
action of the waves, which is not found in the river, 
accumulates stuff of comparatively large size and 
weight on the banks. 

In spite of the conclusions embodied in the nautical 
instructions, which describe the estuary as a theatre 
of rapid changes " occasioned by the continual deposits 
of sand brought down by the Parana and the Uru- 
guay," 2 the estuary is, as a matter of fact, in a remark- 
able state of equilibrium, and there is no trace of a 
gradual accumulation of alluvia, or of important 

» The granite which outcrops at Martin Garcia also forms the plat- 
form of the English Bank in the outer harbour. 

» The water in the estuary, worked up by waves and tide, contains 
more sediment than the water of the river. 


changes of channel. The shore of the delta north of 
the Parana de las Palmas, covered with rushes which 
protect it from the attack of the waves, shows neither 
advance nor retreat. The broad lines of the hydro- 
graphy of the Rio de la Plata are plainly indicated 
on Woodbine Parish's map. The English Navy map 
of 1869 (on the basis of observations in 1833, 1844 
and 1856) only differs in detail from the present map. 
The stability of the channels is surprisingly different 
from the changes in the bed of the river in the flood- 
zone. The permanence of the bottom, in spite of 
the loose deposits of the estuary, is explained by the 
regularity of the currents. These currents, which 
determine the submarine topography of the Rio de la 
Plata and the distribution of the banks, are not of 
river origin. They are tidal currents. 

There are two groups of shoals in the estuary. The 
first, the Playa Honda, occupies the whole western 
part of it up to a line drawn from Buenos Aires to 
Colonia. These banks leave a narrow passage in 
the north, opposite the Uruguayan shore, and this is 
followed by ships going to Uruguay and the Parana 
Guazu. The second group of shoals is the Ortiz Bank, 
triangular in shape, which rests in the north on the 
Uruguay coast below Colonia, while its point extends 
south-eastward to eighteen miles north of the Punta 
de las Piedras. It keeps the zone of deepest water 
in the middle estuary to the south, near the Argentine 
shore. In the latitude of the point of the Ortiz Bank, 
on a line from Montevideo to Punta de las Piedras, 
the middle estuary is separated from the outer harbour 
by a bar [harra del Indio) with thirty-eight feet of 
water, caused by the transverse currents which circulate 
from point to point inside the English Bank. 

The tide in the estuary is very irregular. The south- 
east winds increase the flow and retard the ebb. When 
they are blowing, it often happens that the level of 
the water in the upper estuary keeps up from one 


tide to the next, sometimes for several days. The 
tide, which is sHght at Montevideo, is greater at the 
bottom of the harbour on the Barra del Indio, some- 
times rising nearly forty inches there. From there it 
advances with difhculty northward, over the Ortiz 
Bank, along the Uruguayan shore, whereas it passes 
freely into the deeper zone on the Argentine side.^ 
At Buenos Aires it still has a depth of thirty inches. 
From there it advances northward by the Martin 
Garcia channels beyond the Playa Honda. The channel 
of the Pozos del Barca Grande, which crosses the 
Playa Honda bank from north to south, parallel to 
the edge of the delta, is oriented in conformity with 
the tidal currents and maintained by them. It is not 
attached to the river, and it is separated from the 
mouths of the Parana de las Palmas or the Parana 
Mini by shallows which are navigable only to small 
boats. The Rias of the Uruguay, where the tide 
raises the water twelve inches, forms a sort of reservoir 
which, at the ebb, feeds a strong current round Martin 
Garcia and sweeps the channels there. 

The work done for the improvement of the estuary 
includes the deepening to thirty feet of the Barra del 
Indio and the dredging of a straight channel from 
that point to Buenos Aires. Steamers of large ton- 
nage going up the Parana leave this channel twenty- 
six miles east of Buenos Aires, and turn north in 
order to pass east of Martin Garcia, and enter the 
river by the Parana Guazu or the Parana Bravo. 
Since 1901 the Argentine Government has considered 
a plan of opening a direct route from Buenos Aires 
to the Parana de las Palmas, either by cutting an 
artificial canal at the foot of the cliffs, across the 
Tigre archipelago, or by using the channel of the 
Pozos del Barca Grande and cutting the narrow bar 
which closes the Parana de las Palmas below. If 

' The current at high tide is stronger than at low tide, and it has 
shifted to the north-east the streams which find an outlet on this side. 


this were done, the ports of the Parana de las Palmas 
would have direct access to the sea. Moreover, the 
new route from the Parana to the Atlantic would be 
entirely within Argentine territory, out of range of 
the Uruguayan shore, and Buenos Aires would become 
a necessary port of call both on departure and return. 

Above the estuary, the work for the improvement 
of the Parana began in 1904 and 1905. Since 1910 
the material dredged from the bed of the river has 
risen to 3,500,000 cubic metres a year on the average. 
The experience gained in the course of this work has 
enabled the Argentine hydrographic service to adjust 
its methods to the incomparable force of the river. 
It is impossible to maintain a general rectification of 
the bed and the banks, as is possible with European 
rivers. The only thing to do is to submit quietly to 
the plan which the river sketches for itself, and be 
content to deepen the difficult passages on the line 
of the main arm. Suction dredges, which work easily 
in the sand, attack each ridge or paso from below, 
making a channel into which the waters flow, so that 
it tends to enlarge itself up stream. The dredges are 
shifted from bank to bank according as the soundings 
tell of the formation of fresh obstacles to navigation. 
They were at first concentrated below Rosario, where 
the Argentine Government had to carry out certain 
engagements contracted with the Port Company ; 
then they were scattered as far up as Santa Fe. The 
actual equipment suffices to carry out the programme 
that had been drawn up — to maintain a depth of 
twenty-one feet as far as Rosario and of nineteen 
feet as far as Santa Fe. 

As regards the section above Santa Fe, the engineer 
Repossini advises that, instead of adopting a pro- 
gramme of expensive dredging with uncertain results, 
they should first think of adjusting navigation to the 
natural conditions, and they are such as would be 
considered very favourable in Europe. The hydro- 

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graphic service would, however, still have two func- 
tions : in the first place, the topographical study of 
the river and the constant placing of buoys, and, in 
the second place, the observation of its behaviour 
and anticipation of variations of level. The utility 
of the work of foreseeing floods, which has been carried 
on since 1907, has been abundantly proved. It 
published a daily bulletin of forecasts, based upon 
observation of the pluviometric scales of the upper 
river, which is equally valuable to the navigators and 
to breeders in the floodable area. It enables the 
breeders to get their cattle into safety before the 
floods come. On the other hand, the ship can, 
thanks to the bulletin, foretell what depth of water 
it will find at critical passages, and calculate exactly 
the load it can carry, and so complete its cargo lower 
down. The service of forecast of floods has morally 
improved navigation on the Parana by suppressing 
every possible pretext for wilful stranding, which had 
become a current form of speculation. 

Nothing is more varied than the fleet which now 
serves the Parana. It includes tramps, and long, slim 
European ships, which load up with cereals and meat ; 
large river boats, luxurious and light ; barges and 
tugs, lighters and schooners, which have compensation 
for their slowness in their cheapness. 

As regards navigation, the river is now divided 
into three sections. Maritime navigation ascends as 
far as Santa Fe. At Rosario and Santa Fe it goes 
right to the heart of the zone of cereals and to the 
fringe of the forest area. The upper section, between 
Rosario and Santa Fe, is less safe than the lower 
section, and this is reflected in the cost of freightage 
from Santa Fe. 

The ports of the lower Parana, between Santa Fe 
and Buenos Aires, may be classed in three categories. 
The ports of the first group are built on low land 



that is liable to be flooded. Every year the floods 
threaten their traflic. That is the character of 
Colastine, east of Santa Fe, which specializes in ship- 
ping quebracho timber, or Ibicuy, on the Parana Pavon, 
in the south of the province of Entre Rios, which, 
however, is protected by excellent works. The small 
ports of the barranca of the southern bank, on the 
main river and on the Parana de las Palmas, form a 
second group. They ship meat (Campana and Zarate) 
and cereals (San Nicolas and Villa Constitucion), and 
they are admirably adapted for this by their natural 
situation. Steamers come right up to the chff without 
any need of special works on the shore. The sacks of 
wheat are let into the ships down sloping gangways 
from stores excavated in the chff or from wagons. 
None of these ports are equipped for receiving imports. 
The third group comprises ports with complete appa- 
ratus for both export and import. The chief of these 
is Rosario. It was the increase of imports between 
1850 and i860 that stimulated its early progress. 
To-day the tonnage of the goods unloaded at Rosario 
is nearly one-half the tonnage of the cereals shipped 
there. Yet, in spite of appearances, it is the imports 
that account mainly for the busy Hfe of its quays. 
The port company does the unloading itself, as well 
as the handling and storing of the goods imported, 
but it is content to receive dues on all exports within 
the area for which it has a monopoly. Only a small 
part of the cereals exported uses its elevators. A 
deep-water port, equipped like that at Rosario for 
import and export, has just been constructed at Santa 
Fe. Already it competes with Colastine for the 
export of quebracho. Its import trade is still small, 
as such trade requires large capital and a whole net- 
work of relations with the adjoining country, and 
that is not the work of a day. 

The second section of the river stretches from Santa 
Fe to Corrientes, and is continued up the Paraguay. 


The transport of quebracho timber and tannic acid is 
the chief item of its trade. The maximum draught 
of the vessels it admits at normal low water is six 
feet. Some of the ports on the left bank (Esquina, 
Goya) and all the ports on the right bank (Recon- 
quista, Barranqueras, etc.) are at some distance from 
the main bed, or lateral arms. The Chaco works 
have generally a flotilla of steamers and barges. It 
is the exporters of timber and extract of quebracho to 
Europe who most strongly demand the deepening of 
the bed of the Parana above Santa Fe. Saihng ships 
share with the river steamers the transport of the 
products of the Paraguay and of Corrientes (hides, 
tobacco and mate). The transport of oranges alone 
from San Antonio, Villeta, Pilar and Humaita repre- 
sents an item of tens of thousands of tons. 

The third section of the river stretches from 
Corrientes to Posadas, and beyond. Sailing ships have 
disappeared from this section, as they cannot make the 
Apipe rapids. Steamers of four and a-half feet draught 
and 150 tons are now used on it, but they cannot 
proceed at low water. They provide a direct service 
between Buenos Aires and Posadas, though the service 
is not very economical, because it does not permit 
them to use to the full the transport-capacity of the 
river below Corrientes. Most of the goods for Posadas 
are, therefore, trans-shipped at Ituzaingo, below the 
rapids, or at Corrientes. The steamboat companies 
which serve Posadas are obliged, in order to secure 
the economical transport of goods shipped on the 
upper Parana, to maintain lines which go up the 
Paraguay as far as Asuncion, and take on at Corrientes 
the goods that come from Posadas. Higher up, the 
falls of the Guayra and the Yguassu set an impassable 
limit to the enterprise of Argentine vessels. Boats on 
the stretch above Yguassu on the Parana feed the 
railways of the Brazilian tableland. The traffic of 
the upper Parana consists chiefly of mate from Misiones 



and cedar-planks from the Posadas saw-mills. Rafts 
of timber are stopped at Posadas and rarely follow 
the river further. 

The Argentine statistics of navigation are obscure. 
They confuse under one heading the river-traffic 
between Posadas and Brazilian territory, or between 
Corrientes and the Paraguay, and the exports of the 
Pampean region to Europe. It is difficult to get 
from them an idea of the real traffic, or to distinguish 
the tonnage loaded or unloaded at each port from 
that which merely touches its quays in ships going 
up or coming down the river. They credit a score of 
ports with a total tonnage of (entries and clearances 
together) more than 500,000 tons. 

At all events, they do enable us to distinguish between 
ports exclusively devoted to river traffic and those 
with direct relations to oversea ports. Nearly all the 
boats destined for the Parana touch at Buenos Aires, 
which remains the chief importing centre, on the way 
up, and unload there. They then go empty to Rosario, 
San Nicolas, or Santa Fe to take on a full cargo of 
cereals or timber, and set out down the Parana for 
Europe without calling at Buenos Aires. Clearances 
for interior navigation at the port of Buenos Aires are 
far more numerous than entries. From 1912 to 1914 
Buenos Aires received on the average, coming from 
interior ports, 1,750,000 tons, of which 1,635,000 were 
cargo. It cleared for the same ports ships totalling 
3,275,000 tons, of which 1,580,000 were in ballast. 
The latter figure fairly represents the tonnage of sea- 
going ships sent up river empty after discharging on 
the quays of Buenos Aires, At Rosaiio, San Nicolas 
and San Pedro, on the other hand, the tonnage of 
clearances for Argentine ports is much less than the 
tonnage of entries, ^ The total movement of goods at 

• Movement of internal navigation at Rosario (average 1912-1914) : 
entries, 1,108,000 tons, of which 690,000 in ballast; clearances, 
580,000 tons. At San Nicolas : entries, 400,000 tons, of which. 


the port of Rosario is 410,000 tons entries and 375,000 
tons clearances for interior navigation, and 1,100,000 
tons entries and 1,824,000 tons clearances for navigation 

According to Repossini's calculations the tonnage 
of exports on the lower Parana south of Santa Fe 
rose in 1910 to 4,000,000 or 4,500,000, The imports, 
almost entirely confined to Rosario, were about a 
fourth of this figure. For the middle and upper 
Parana, Repossini estimated the volume of the traffic 
at 800,000 tons, of which quebracho was two-fifths. 

The navigation of the Parana is one of the chief 
sources of the prosperity of Buenos Aires. Even if 
the development of the import trade at Rosario or 
Santa Fe is partly at the expense of the capital, and 
the boats laden with cereals do not stop at its quays, 
still the coasting traffic on the river is in great part 
meant for Buenos Aires. In returning, rather than go 
empty, the boats take cargoes of European products 
bought from the Buenos Aires importers. By means 
of the Parana the import-trade sphere of influence of 
Buenos Aires reaches beyond the frontiers of Argentina, 
as far as Paraguay and part of Brazil. Buenos Aires 
is, moreover, the main centre for equipping the steam- 
boats of the river. Its capital dominates the Parana. 
Lastly, the Parana supplies it with an export freight 
which must not be overlooked. It is at Buenos Aires 
that the hides, tobacco and timber and extracts of 
quebracho for oversea markets, shipped on schooners 
in the upper reaches of the river which are impassable 
for steamers, are trans-shipped for abroad. 

440,000 in ballast ; clearances, 4,000 tons. The diflference between 
the entries and the clearances represents ships starting straight for 



The distribution of the population — The streams of emigration to the 
interior — Seasonal migrations — The historic towns — The towns 
of the Pampean region — Buenos Aires. 

A LARGE-SCALE chart of the mean density of the 
population lor each province — like those which were 
published in the latest Argentine Census-reports — 
has no geographical value foi the west and north- 
west, where oases of slight extent are separated by 
vast desolate stretches, deserted because of the lack 
of water. In the Pampean region, on the other hand, 
the population is distributed in a very regular manner, 
and the mean densities calculated fairly represent 
the facts. 

To the several types of exploitation, of which we 
have studied the distribution on the Pampa, there 
correspond unequal densities of population. Cattle- 
breeding, for instance, requires only a thin popula- 
tion. The early pastoral colonization of the plain on 
the west of the Salado was carried out, between 1880 
and 1890, with a very small number of workers. A 
large ranch of 400 square kilometres on the northern 
edge of the Pampa (the Tost ado ranch) only employs 
about a hundred men, or one for four square kilo- 
metres. The density increases appreciably for sheep- 
breeding on the pastos iiernos of Buenos Aires pro- 
vince, where a ranch of a hundred square kilometres, 
devoted to producing wool, with fifty or sixty shep- 
herds, sustains at least 200 persons, or two to the square 



kilometre. I The density is not appreciably greater in 
the area of wheat-growing on a large scale, where the 
extent cultivated by one family reaches, including 
fallow, 200 hectares. But it may, even apart from 
the urban population, be more than ten to the square 
kilometre in the maize belt. 

The growth of the population of Argentina can be 
followed closely from the middle of the eighteenth 
century. A Census taken in 1774 gives the Buenos 
Aires district within the first line of forts 6,000 inhabi- 
tants. At the end of the eighteenth century (Census 
of 1797, quoted by D'Azara) the population of the 
province of Buenos Aires, without the town, was a 
little over 30,000 souls, the zone occupied having 
been extended in the meantime, at least in part, as 
far as the Salado. Woodbine Parish estimates the 
population at 80,000 in 1824, at the time when the 
expansion southward, beyond the Salado, as far as 
the Sierra de Tandil, began. It doubled between 
1824 and 1855. The northern departments then 
counted 45,000 inhabitants, the western 58,000 and tne 
southern 63,000. The density was still a little greater 
in the north, along tne road to Peru, but the advance 
of sheep-rearing in the south was beginning to change 
the centre of gravity of colonization. The first regular 
Census of the Argentine Republic in 1869 showed a 
still more rapid advance. The population of the 
Buenos Aires province had grown to 315,000 inhabi- 
tants. The increase was greatest in the west, where 
tillage began to extend round Chivilcoy, beyond the 
pastoral area, and in the south, where sheep-farms 
multiplied. The population of the southern depart- 
ments more than doubled in fourteen years (137,000 
inhabitants to 70,000 square kilometres in occupation, 
or two to the square kilometre). 

However, the Pampean region — Buenos Aires (includ- 

' The density is twenty times less in the ranches which use the 
meagre pastures of the Rio Negro. 


ing the capital), Santa Fe, and the southern part of 
Cordoba — still had a smaller population than that of 
the northern and north-western provinces : 626,000 
as compared with 813,000. The Mesopotamian pro- 
vinces had then 263,000 inhabitants. 

The proportion was reversed twenty-five years later 
at the 1895 Census. The population of the Pampas 
had increased threefold, and was more than a half of 
the entire population of the country. That of the 
western and north-western provinces was about a 
third of the whole, and had only increased by fifty 
per cent. 

If one considers in detail the distribution of the 
population of the Pampean plain in 1895, one sees 
that beyond the suburbs of Buenos Aires the area of 
greatest density — five to eight per square kilometre — 
was in the north-west, between San Andres de Giles 
and Pergamino, a district of advanced methods, where 
the cultivation of maize was beginning to occupy a 
good part of the land. The population was confined 
to the west of the preceding zone, in the agricultural 
area of Junin, Chacabuco and Chivilcoy. This area, 
where maize and wheat were next each other, already 
embraced Viente Cinco de Mayo (five to the square kilo- 
metre) on the west and Nueve de Julio (2*5) . In the 
south of Buenos Aires, the departments of the left bank 
of the Salado, which were entirely given up to breeding, 
but long colonized, had a density of three to five per 
square kilometre. The region lying between tne lower 
Salado and the Sierra de Tandil, a sheep-breeding area, 
then giving good returns but of recent colonization, had 
not more than three. The density falls rapidly as one 
goes westward. It sinks to less than one in the north- 
west and west of the Buenos Aires province, in the 
area where the cattle-breeders from the east had 
settled At Santa Fe, the region of the colonies, at 
the level both of Rosario and Santa Fe, had five inhabi- 
tants per square kilometre. But beyond the Cordoba 


Photograph by Soc. Fotografica de Aficionados. 

Plate XXIII. 


Photograph by Soc. Fotografica de Aficionados. 

To tace p. 262. 


frontier the density falls to two in the San Justo 
department, and still less further south, at Marcos 
Juarez, Union and General Lopez. 

In 1914 the density was more than fifteen in the whole 
of the maize area in the Buenos Aires and Santa F6 
provinces, and it approached this figure in the depart- 
ments of the old agricultural colonies on the middle 
Salado. In the region of the lucerne farms it was 
three to five, except in the south-east (departments 
of Veinte Cinco de Mayo, Nueve de Julio and Bolivia), 
where it rose, thanks to the co-existence of ranches 
and of wheat and maize. It sank to between two 
and three in the wheat area in the south and south- 
east of Buenos Aires. At Santa Fe the district of the 
colonies had seven to the square kilometre. 

The growth of the population is partly explained 
by immigration from Europe. Foreigners were, in 
1914, 30 per cent, of the total population. i The pro- 
portion of foreigners to the total population is one 
of the indications by which we can best follow the 
advance of colonization. As soon as it relaxes in 
any region, the number of immigrants diminishes. 
(The children born of foreign colonists in Argentina 
are considered indigenous in Argentine statistics.) 
In 1869 the proportion of foreigners rose to 417 per 
1,000 in the province of Buenos Aires (without the 
capital). This was the great period of pastoral colon- 
ization and the development of sheep-breeding. It was 
then only 156 per 1,000 at Santa Fe. In 1895 the 
proportion of foreigners sank to 309 per 1,000 at 
Buenos Aires, but rose to 419 at Santa Fe, where the 
date almost marks the end of the great period of 
agricultural colonization. In 1914 the proportion of 
foreigners at Buenos Aires rose to 340 per 1,000 
(development of the maize region and the southern 

' All Europeans, except a few tens of thousands of Bolivians in 
the Salta and Jujuy provinces, a few thousand Brazilians in Misiones, 
and a few thousand Chileans at Neuquen. 


wheat area). It sank at Santa Fe (350 per 1,000), 
in spite of considerable immigration in the southern 
maize-growing departments. At the same time there 
was a great influx of foreign population in the pro- 
vince of Cordoba (200 per 1,000) and in the area of 
the Central Pampa (360 per i,ooo).i 

The recent enumerations also enable us to follow 
the displacements of the indigenous population on 
Argentine territoiy and the part this has had in 
colonization. Outside the Pampean region the parts 
of the country which have proved centres of attraction 
for the Argentine population are the sugar provinces 
of Tucuman and Jujuy and the province of Mendoza. 
In 1895 Tucuman had 40,000 inhabitants who had 
been born in other provinces, Jujuy 15,000 and 
Mendoza 19,000. Tlie attraction of Tucuman was 
mainly felt in the adjoining province of Santiago 
(12,000 immigrants) and Catamarca (12,000). At 
Mendoza the immigrants came mainly from San 
Juan (7,000) and San Luis (3,000). The attraction 
of the timber region is more difficult to estimate, 
because most of the obrajes are in the province of 
Santiago, which found the workers itself, and the 
enumerations have not taken into account displace- 
ments within each province. Nevertheless, immigration 
into the land of the quebracho Chaqueno, along the 
Parana, can be recognised from 1895 onward. It was 
maintained by the Corrientes province. Santa Fe 
has 10,000 immigrants from Corrientes, of whom 
6,500 are in the forestry departments of Reconquista 
and Vera. The Chaco region maintains 2,000 Cor- 
rientes wood-cutters and several hundred from Santiago 

' I have referred elsewhere to the magnitude of the stream of 
European immigration at Mendoza. In Patagonia (territory of the 
Rio Negro, the Neuquen, the Chubut, the Santa Cruz, and Tierra 
del Fuego, of which the total population is only 104,000) sheep-breeding 
has attracted a considerable number of immigrants (428 foreigners 
per 1000 in 1914). 


and Salta. Corrientes has also sent 5,000 emigrants 
to Misiones. 

In the Pampean region the population of Buenos 
Aires in 1895 included very few who came from other 
provinces. The population of Santa Fe was more 
mixed. The attraction of the agricultural colonies 
had brought 65,000 Argentine immigrants. They came 
mainly from the left bank of the Parana and Cordoba. 
The immigrants from Cordoba are localized along the 
railway from Rosario to Cordoba, in the Belgrano 
and Iriondo departments and the town of Rosario. 
The migration of the Santa Fe colonists to the new 
lands in the west had scarcely begun at that time. 
They were still only 3,000 in the Buenos Aires pro- 
vince, and 5,000 at Cordoba ; most of them were in 
departments adjacent to the old colony area. The 
colonization of Cordoba began simultaneously in the 
east, toward Santa Fe, and in the south-west, in the 
Rio Cuarto department, to which the breeders from 
San Luis went. Similarly, the Argentine population 
of the Central Pampa includes elements from the 
east as well as European colonists and elements from 
the north-west (10,000 immigrants from the Buenos 
Aires province, 3,000 from San Luis). 

The 1914 Census has less complete details in regard 
to interior immigration than its predecessor. The 
migrations had not ceased. The attraction of Tucu- 
man and Mendoza had, in fact, decreased. The 
province of Tucuman had 55,000 Argentine immi- 
grants, the province of Jujuy 15,000, the province of 
Mendoza 34,000. The provinces of Mendoza and Cor- 
rientes remained nuclei of considerable immigration 
(38,000 and 63,000 immigrants). At Santa Fe the 
number of emigrants who left the province to 
settle at Cordoba and in the remainder of the Pampean 
region rose from 14,000 to 87,000. The Patagonian 
territory also had a large excess of immigrants from 
other provinces. 


Periodic migrations with no definitive change of 
residence are not given in the official statistics. The 
importance of these migrations in northern Argentina 
has been noted in the chapters we devoted to Tucuman 
and the forestry industry. They occur also in the 
Pampean region, where they are due chiefly to he 
need of labour for the harvest and the threshing of 
wheat and flax, and for reaping the maize. Miatello 
has given us a detailed analysis of the phenomenon 
for the province of Santa Fe in 1904. The period 
when the wheat and flax growers need help is from 
November to February. It begins in March for the 
maize farmers, and lasts so much longer when the 
harvest is good. The temporary immigrants come 
partly from Europe. Not only is the stream of immi- 
gration to Argentina fuller during the months which 
precede the harvests, while the stream of re-emigration 
to Europe is greatest in the autumn, but it is not a 
rare thing for Italians to go every year to Argentina 
merely to stay there during the harvest, when wages 
are high. This seasonal immigration from Italy is of 
long standing ; it is mentioned by Daireaux in 1889. 
These foreigners, however, are only part of the 
adventurous crowd enlisted for the harvests on the 
Pampean plain. Seasonal migration is everywhere a 
national practice. The labour employed in reaping 
the maize includes elements borrowed from the towns 
near the maize belt. But all the provinces round 
the Pampean region send their contingent of tem- 
porary immigrants. Some even come from the valley 
of the Rio Negro at Bahia Blanca, from San Luis, 
and even from Mendoza to the Central Pampa and 
the Cordoba province. 

The oldest, and still the largest, stream is that 
which comes from the Santiago province. D'Orbigny 
notices in 1827 the temporary streaming of Santi- 
aguefios to the coast. In that year slow progress 
was made with the wheat-harvest of Buenos Aires 


because of the shortage of labour. " The forced 
levies for the army prevented the Santiaguehos from 
going to hire themselves, as was their custom, in fear 
lest they should be compelled to serve." ^ 

Temporary emigration began, no doubt, with the 
journeys which brought the northerners to Buenos 
Aires as drivers of convoys of wagons. Santiaguehos 
were numerous amongst these iroperos. Lorenzo Fazio 
collected reminiscences of these journeys in the land 
of the hanados.^ They go back to tlie first quarter of 
the nineteenth century, the period before the diversion 
of the Rio Dulce and the ruin of Salavina and 
Atamisqui. " My father," said one of his informants, 
" drove wagons of wheat to Cordoba, and sometimes 
to Buenos Aires, where he sold them and bought 
goods-stuffs in exchange. He bought the wheat at 
Loreto, Atamisqui or Salavina. It was a year before 
he got back, because it was necessary to wait for the 
rain and the growth of the vegetation, otherwise his 
animals would have died of thirst or hunger on the 
road." The journeys of the troperos meant a long 
spell of idleness in the Pampean region, precisely at 
the harvest season. Naturally, they would lend a 
hand in it. 

The temporary emigration of the Santiagueiios 
continued throughout the nineteenth century. It was 
maintained even during the disturbances under the 
government of Rosas, which almost entirely put an 
end to commercial relations between Buenos Aires 
and the northern provinces. When Galvez passed 
through the villages on the Rio Dulce he noticed that 
there were few men in them. They had scattered 
over the roads or were, as he says, andariegos. Only 
the women remained. The province of Buenos Aires 
received the Santiaguefios in crowds, offering their 

' D'Orbigny, Voyage dans I'Ameriqite meridionale, vol. i. p. 528. 
» Lorenzo Fazio, Memoria descriptiva de la provincia de Santiago 
del Estero (Buenos Aires, li 


services. Chivilcoy and the whole region of the 
chacras of maize and wheat received their caravans 
for the harvest, and some were kept for the sowing. 
Even the ranchers took advantage of this reinforce- 
ment, and hired the men for marking. In the 
autumn they went back with their tropillas, much 
dreaded by the breeders whose land they crossed, 
stealing any horses that were not well guarded. 

The province of Santa Fe, especially in the agri- 
cultural departments of the north-west, is now the 
chief theatre in the Pampean region for the immi- 
gration of the Santiaguefios, It does not always 
come by rail, but has to some extent preserved its 
primitive and picturesque features. The immigrants 
arrive in troops on mules and horses, and scatter in 
November over the colonies. 

The population of Argentina has also felt the 
attraction of the urban centres. The growth of the 
towns is due to both foreign and national immigration. 
The development of urban life, which is one of the 
characteristic features of modern Argentina, is a 
recent phenomenon. There was no indication of its 
coming in the eighteenth century. D'Azara was, on 
the contrary, struck by the absence of communal 
life {p^iehlos tmidos). The scattering of the population 
was a result of the predominance of breeding. " If 
these people found profit in agriculture, one would 
see them gather together in villages, instead of the 
whole population being dispersed in ranches." ^ It 
is this scattering of the population rather than an 
absolute numerical inferiority — the solitude, " the 
desert, the universal horizon that forced itself into 
the very entrails of the land " ^ — that moulded the 
fiery soul of the gaucho. 

The primitive urban sites were all either on the 

• F. de Azara, Memorias sobre el estado rural del rio de la Plata en 
1801, p. 10. 

' Sarmiento, El Facundo, p. 19. 


Photograph by Widmayer 

Plate XXIV. 


Photograph by Soc. Fotografica de Aficionados. 

To face p. 268. 


river or on the historic roads to Chile and Peru. The 

only towns of the Parana region at the end of the 

eighteenth century were Buenos Aires, Santa Fe and 

Corrientes. As to towns in the interior, Helms's 

journey in 1778 gives us some idea of their size. 

Cordoba, at the crossing of the Peru road and the 

tracks to the province of La Rioja, had then 1,500 

white inhabitants and 4,000 blacks. As it was near 

the Sierra, which provided granite and lime, it had 

some semblance of architecture, and had paved streets, 

which struck even the traveller from Buenos Aires. 

The attraction of its schools was felt over a wide area. 

We still have a list of students from Paraguay who 

studied at Cordoba University in the eighteenth 

century. I Tucuman and Salta, especially Salta, also 

were busy centres. Salta had 600 Spanish families 

and 9,000 inhabitants in all, and its influence extended 

as far as Peru and Chile. Jujuy, on the other hand, 

was a very small town. Helms mentions the decay 

of Santiago del Estero. The trade which had once 

flourisned there had, he says, gone in a different 

direction. The prosperity of Santiago was, as a 

matter of fact, connected with traffic on the direct 

route from Santa Fe to Tucuman, which ceased at 

the close of the eighteenth century. Santa Fe also 

was a decaying town at the close of the eighteenth 

century, and would remain such until the middle of 

the nineteenth. Its distress was due, not merely to 

the suspension of its direct trade with Peru, but 

also to the decay and isolation of Paraguay, which 

had provided most of its trade and for which it 

acted as intermediary with the Andean provinces. 

The great development of urban life in Argentina 
dates from the time of the colonization of the Pampean 
region. The ratio of the urban population has risen 
considerably during the last twenty-five years. In 
1895, 113 centres with more than 2,000 inhabitants 

' Published by the Revista del Iiistituto Paraguayo (vol. iv. p. 334). 



comprised 37 per cent, of the total population of 
Argentina ; in 1914 the number of urban centres 
was 322, and they comprised 53 per cent, of the 
population. The population of towns with 5,000 to 
20,000 inhabitants has increased threefold in twenty 
years, rising from 312,000 in 1895 to 977,000 in 1914. 
Large new towns like Rosario and Bahia Blanca were 
created. The relative sizes of the older towns changed 
rapidly. Tucuman and Mendoza (121,000 and 92,000 
inhabitants) shot beyond Santiago and Salta (22,000 
and 28,000 inhabitants). The towns of the north- 
west, Catamarca and Rioja, are, on the other hand, 
scarcely developed. 

When one examines a chart of the urban population 
of the Pampean region, one finds that colonization 
has led to the creation in it of ten chief centres, of 
from 15,000 to 25,000 inhabitants, and some fifty 
secondary centres, of from 5,000 to 12,000 inhabitants, 
which all have a distinctly urban character. This 
association of urban centres and a scattered agri- 
cultural or pastoral population is one of the original 
features of the way in which the Pampa was peopled. 
There is no village, or purely rural group. The dis- 
tribution of these centres on the plain is fairly 
regular. They are a little closer together in the dis- 
tricts near the Parana, to the north of Buenos Aires, 
where the population is older, and where the density, 
even of the rural population, is at its highest. The 
territory of the Pampa is divided between the spheres 
of influence of these various centres. Their radius 
is as low as ten miles in the north-west, and is about 
twenty miles in the south of Buenos Aires and twenty- 
five in the extreme west. 

A secondary railway nucleus has generally settled 
the sites of them (San Francisco-Pergamino, Junin). 
Their population comprises all the workers needed for 
the flow of the economic life of the Pampa : agents 
for the exporters of cereals, merchants who supply the 


colonies with imported goods — especially agricultural 
machinery — bankers and insurance companies, sur- 
veyors and lawyers. Those which have the best 
service of trains have a certain amount of industry — 
mills and breweries — the products of which are absorbed 
locally. These towns derive all the elements of their 
life from the Pampean region itself, and have no 
direct relations either with foreign markets or with 
other parts of Argentina.^ 

But the towns of the Pampa which have grown 
most rapidly are the ports. Rosario rose from 23,000 
inhabitants in 1869 to 91,000 in 1895 and to 245,000 
in 1914 ; Bahia Blanca from 9,000 in 1895 to 62,000 
in 1914. The actual population of the Pampa ports 
is not at all in proportion to the part which each 
plays in the export ot Pampean products : — 

Export of Cereals in thousands of ions. 
(Average for 1913-1915) 

Rosario. Buenos Aires. Bahla Blanca. San Nicolas. La Plata. Santa F*. 
2,716 2,051 1,075 651 459 278 

Population in 1914. 
245,000 1,575,000 62,000 19,000 137,000 64,000 

Some centres, such as Campana, Zarate, San Pedro 
or San Nicolas, which load up meat or grain in great 
quantities, have nevertheless remained small towns. 
Neither the trade in meat nor that in cereals is enough 
of itself to sustain a busy urban life. In point of 
fact, the growth of the Pampa ports is mainly con- 
nected with their function as importing ports and 
markets of capital. The close dependence of Bahia 

• Only two of them, Villa Mercedes and Villa Maria, are on the 
edge of the Pampa. We have seen elsewhere the part which the 
extensive breeding of the north-west plays in the business of the Villa 
Mercedes cattle-market. Villa Maria also derives some advantage 
from its nearness to the scrub. Its limekilns receive limestone from 
the Sierra de C6rdoba, but they get their fuel locally, from the men 
who clear the scrub. 


Blanca upon Buenos Aires in both these respects 
seems to forbid it all hope of ever becoming the equal 
of Rosario. The prosperity of Rosario was founded 
during the time when Buenos Aires was isolated, 
between 1853 and i860 ; this enabled them to organize 
an import trade there and to accumulate a nucleus 
of independent capital. ^ 

The development of Buenos Aires must be studied 
separately. It does not merely reflect the success of 
the colonization of tJie Pampa ; it is a phenomenon of a 
national order. The attraction of Buenos Aires has 
been felt throughout the whole land. In 1895, of a 
total population of Argentine birth of 318,000 souls, 
more than a half — 167,000 — were born in the pro- 
vinces. 2 The way in which the prosperity of Buenos 
Aires is bound up, not only with that of the adjacent 
territory but with that of the whole country, is seen 
in the stability of the figure representing the number 
of the inhabitants who have come from foreign lands. 
While the proportion of foreigners in each of the 
provinces varies from one census to another, according 
to the displacements of the stream of colonization, it 
remains almost the same at Buenos Aires : 496 per 
1,000 in 1869, 520 in 1895, 493 in 1914. 

The population of the city of Buenos Aires was 
estimated by Helms in 1788 to be between 24,000 
and 30,000. D'Azara put it at 40,000 in 1799. The 
Revolution did not interrupt its growth. According to 
the estimate of Woodbine Parish the city had 81,000 
inhabitants in 1824. On the other hand, the Rosas 
Government involved a period of stagnation (90,000 
inhabitants in 1855). But after 1855 Buenos Aires 

• Buenos Aires and Rosario alone have independent grain markets, 
though it is differently organized in each case. At Buenos Aires the 
exporters have entered into direct relations with the producers and 
eliminated intermediaries. At Rosario they have to use the services 
of a strong body of agents. 

» The 1 91 4 Census does not give reliable details on this point 


resumed its progress, even before the political unity 
of Argentina was re-established, and has never since 
relaxed. Its population has doubled almost regu- 
larly at intervals of fifteen years : 177,000 in 1869, 
433,000 in 1887, 663,000 in 1895, and 1,575,000 in 
1914. The latter figure, in fact, is inadequate. 
Greater Buenos Aires, including the outlying parts, has 
really 1,990,000 inhabitants. 

The site on which the city is built is a regular plateau, 
sixty-five feet above sea level, cut by flat-bottomed, 
marshy valleys. The Riachuelo, at the mouth of one 
of these valleys, provided Buenos Aires with its first 
port. The low and badly drained lands of the valleys 
are occupied by the poorest quarters. Their sides, 
the barrancas, bear the aristocratic residences, and 
the gardeners have been able to use the sites to great 
advantage in their plans. 

As a whole, the growth of Buenos Aires presents 
the same feature of regularity, on account of the 
uniformity of the soil, as the spread of colonization 
over the plain of the Pampas. The city is distributed 
in concentric zones, and it is thus a model on a small 
scale of tne distribution of the various types of 
exploitation on the Pampa which surrounds it. The 
central nucleus, the business quarter, contains not 
only the offices, but the warehouses of imported 
goods. Round this centre, with a radius of one to 
three miles, are the residential quarters in which the 
density is greatest (250 to 350 to the hectare). 
Beyond this the density sinks to less than 200 per 
hectare and less than fifty on the outskirts. The 
central quarters developed the maximum density 
after 1900. Those of the first outer zone have gained 
greatly between 1904 and 1909. Since the latter 
date, the progress of these quarters has been arrested 
in turn, and the recent growth is mainly in the 
remote working-class suburbs in the south and on 
the bank of the Riachuelo. 



Buenos Aires has preserved in its central district, 
and reproduces in all its outer districts, the primitive 
draught-board plan of a Spanish colonial city. This 
plan is not suited to its needs to-day. The rapid 
growth of the city and its expansion — the mean density 
is not more than fifty-four inhabitants to the hectare, 
as against 360 at Paris — complicate the problem of 
transport. At the present time the city is considering 
plans for reconstructing its thoroughfares and making 
diagonal streets, starting from the centre and following 
the direction of the main streams of traffic. In this 
way the city would reproduce the fan-wise distribution 
of railways over the Pampean plain. 

Buenos Aires is the intermediary between the 
provinces and oversea countries. It has three titles 
to this profitable part. In the first place, it is the 
chief centre of the import trade. The mei chants of 
the cities in the interior are customers of the Buenos 
Aires importers, and are closely bound to them by a 
system of long-term credit. Buenos Aires is, secondly, 
the centre for the distribution of the European capital 
which has been used in the development of the country. 
Lastly, it divides immigrant workers amongst the 
provinces, just as it divides capital. As an immigra- 
tion port its position is unrivalled. The efforts that 
were made to divert part of the immigrants to Bahia 
Blanca failed, and direct immigration to the Santa 
Fe province ceased at the close of the first period of 
colonization, about 1880. It is also at Buenos Aires 
that immigrants who are not going to settle in 
Argentina embark ; re-emigration, which is regarded 
as a national plague by Argentine economists, is 
another source of profit to the capital. Hence the 
fortune of Buenos Aires is due in the first place to 
the close contact between the economic life of Argentina 
and that of Europe and North America. 

But its very growth has led to a gradual change 
in the part it plays in the interior of the country. In 


proportion as its population and wealth grew, it 
became a great national market. The products of the 
provinces go to it, not merely to meet its own needs 
as consumer, but in order to be distributed over the 
entire country. The figures of the cattle trade on 
the Buenos Aires market are instructive in this 
respect. From January to July 1919 there were 
1,130,000 head of cattle sold, 240,000 being for the 
supply of the capital and 700,000 for the refrigerators. ^ 
Of the remainder, 120,000 were bought for fattening 
and 40,000 by the butchers of other towns. The 
capital of its own which has accumulated at Buenos 
Aires is invested either in real estate or in industry, 
which has found great profit both in the development 
of local consumption and in the great stock of labour 
provided by immigration, Buenos Aires is not now 
content to be merely an intermediary between the 
country and foreign lands. It contributes by its own 
resources and work to the task of colonization and 
the supply of manufactured articles to the agricultural 
and pastoral districts. It is, finally, a luxurious city, 
with every opportunity for the men who have grown 
rich by the rise in the price of lands to spend their 
income, and providing pleasure for the country folk 
who come up occasionally, tired of their laborious, 
rough and solitary existence. 

' During the same period the Argentinian refrigerators killed 
1,490,000 head of cattle. Therefore, about half of these were bought 
at Buenos Aires, 


I give here only the most important and most recent 
works. A list of the articles I have consulted would be 
long and uninteresting, while a complete list of those which 
might have been consulted, and from which information 
might have been gleaned, is impossible. For a work of 
this character there is no account of travel, no study of the 
soil, the climate, or the vegetation, no statistical document 
or journal or purely historical text, that has not a perfect 
right to be regarded as a source. 

I. Periodicals. 

Of the periodicals published in Argentina, and partly or 
wholly devoted to the study of the land and its develop- 
ment, the principal are : — 

Boletin del Instituto Geografico Argentino (Buenos Aires, 
since 1879 ; vol. i, 1879, vol. ii, 1881 ; one vol. yearly from 
1881 to 1901 ; has appeared irregularly since). 

Anales de la Sociedad Cientifica Argentina (Buenos Aires, 
2 vols, yearly from 1876). 

Revista de la Sociedad Geografica Argentina (Buenos Aires, 
only appeared from 1883 to 1889). 

Boletin de la Academia Nacional de Ciencias de Cordoba 
(C6rdoba, since 1874, 23 vols, to 1918). 

The publications of the Buenos Aires and La Plata museums 
also contain, besides copious anthropological, archaeological, 
palasontological, and historical material, a large number of 
articles of interest to geographers : — 

Anales del Museo Nacional de Historia Natural de Buenos 
Aires. Begins 1864, 25 vols., folio and quarto, to 1914. 

Anales del Museo de la Plata. First series 1890-1900, 
second series from 1907. 



Revista del Museo de la Plata. From 1890-1891, 17 vols, 
to 1910-1911. 

All these reviews contain especially articles on the parts 
of the country which were last explored — Patagonia, Chaco, 
Misiones. They contain little about the parts that were 
early colonized, though these are not always the best known. 

2. Maps. 

The maps published in the eighteenth century (D'Anville's 
map, 1733, in the Lettres edifiantes, 19th collection, Paris, 
1734 : Bellin's map in vol. ii of the Histoire du Paraguay 
of the R.P.P.F.X. de Charlevoix, Paris, 1756, 3 vols., 
etc.) are based upon information collected by the Jesuit 

D'Azara's map (1809) shows a remarkable advance. 

Important corrections of D'Azara's map are found in 
Woodbine Parish's map (1838). 

Brackebusch's two maps are essential documents : Mapa 
del interior de la Repuhlica Argentina, por el Dr. L. Bracke- 
busch, I : 1,000,000 (Gotha, 1835) and Mapa geologico del 
interior de la Repuhlica Argentina, i : 1,000,000 (Gotha, 1890). 

The results of earlier work have been used in the Atlas 
de la Repuhlica Argentina consiruido y puhlicado por el 
Instituto Geografico Argentino (Buenos Aires, 1894), which 
includes a list of its sources. 

Since that date many maps have been published : maps 
of the various provinces and surveys drawn up by the railway 
companies, the Chile Frontier Commission (see Patagonia), 
the Mines Division (see Natural Regions), and the Ministerio 
de Obras Publicas (see River Routes). A brief account of 
the history of Argentine cartography and a list of maps of 
provinces will be found in Colonel B. Garcia Aparicio, La 
carta de la Repuhlica {Anuario del Instituto Geografico Militar, 
i, 1912, Buenos Aires, pp. 1-27). 

The Military Geographical Institute has itself published 
a large number of maps, either on the basis of fresh surveys 
or by compiling earlier work, chiefly : — 

About thirty sheets on the scale i : 25,000 (Pampean 
region) since 1904, interesting for studying the relief of the 



" Governacion de la Pampa," i : 500,000 (Estado Mayor, 
3 A Division, Buenos Aires, 1909). 

Three sheets on the scale i : 1,000,000 (Buenos Aires, 
Concordia, and Corrientes). Buenos Aires, provisional edition 
igii of a map of Argentina on the scale i : 1,000,000, which 
is to comprise twenty-one sheets. 

A convenient reference map, though of no scientific value, 
is the map of the railways, on the scale i : 2,000,000, in 
three sheets, published in 1910 by the Ministerio de Obras 

3. Statistics. 

A summary of the chief statistics is published annually 
in The Argentine Yearbook (from 1902 at Buenos Aires ; 
from 1909 at Buenos Aires and London). 

The Anuario de la Direccion General de Estadistica, which 
has appeared since 1880 in one, two or three vols, quarto, 
gives the figures of trade, immigration, agriculture, railways, 
navigation, etc. (last volume consulted is for 1914, Buenos 
Aires, 1915). 

In the third volume of the Anuario for 1912 will be found 
a list of the publications of the Direcci6n de Estadistica, 
Besides the Anuario the Direcci6n publishes a bulletin with 
commercial statistics (last number consulted 181, " El 
comercio exterior Argentine en los primeros trimestres de 
1918 y 1919," Buenos Aires, 1919). Boleiin 176 contains 
a review of Argentine trade from 1910 to 1917. 

The statistical department of the Ministry of Agriculture, 
under the direction of E. Lahitte, publishes the Boleiin 
Mensual de Estadistica Agricola (last volume consulted, 
xxi, 1919). 

4. General Descriptions. » 

The scientific study of this part of South America may 
be traced back as far as D'Azara. His observations are 

• Besides the publications of the Jesuits, which can easily be con- 
sulted, a fairly large number of texts bearing upon the history of 
colonization have been published or re-published in the nineteenth 
and the twentieth century. See especially : 

Relaciones Geograpicas de Indias (vol. i, i88i ; vol. ii, 1885, Madrid). 


collected in Don Felix de Azara, Voyages dans VAmerique 
meridionale, published by Walckenaer (Paris, 1809, 4 vols, 
in 12™° and atlas) and Descripcion e historia del Paraguay 
y del Rio de la Plata, published by D. Agustin de Azara 
(Madrid, 1847, 2 vols, octavo). 

The Voyage dans VAmerique meridionale of Alcide d'Orbigny 
contains his observations on the Parana, the province of 
Corrientes, the Pampa (Parchappe's voyages), and Pata- 
gonia (1828). (Historical section, vol. i, Paris, 1835 ; vol. ii, 
Paris, 1839-43 ; vol. iii, third part, geology, Paris, 1842). 

Darwin also visited the coast of Patagonia and crossed 
the Pampa (1833) : Narrative of the Surveying Voyage of 
H.M.S. " Adventure " and " Beagle "... vol. iii, as Journal 
and Researches (London, 1839). 

Sir Woodbine Parish's work, Buenos Aires and the Provinces 
of the Rio de la Plata (London, 1838), is remarkably well- 
informed, and is based upon a thorough study of previous 
publications and archives. 

W. MacKann's Ten Thousand Miles' Ride through the 
Argentine Republic (London, 1855, 2 vols.) is interesting, 
and the work of a close observer. 

Martin de Moussy, Description geographique et statistique 
de la ConfSderation argentine (Paris, 1858, 3 vols, octavo 
and atlas), is unequal, but full of information. 

The work of H. Burmeister, Description physique de la 
RepiMique argentine (Paris, 2 vols., 1876), is of little value, 
and has been overrated. 

Richard Napp, Die Argentinische Repuhlik (Buenos Aires, 
1876, I vol. octavo), includes a valuable chapter by P. G. 
Lorentz on the flora (" Vegetationsverhaeltnisse Argentiniens," 
pp. 87-149). 

Anales de la Biblioteca Nacional, Buenos Aires, Puhlicacion de 
documentos relativos al Rio de la Plata (from 1900). 

Publications of the Juvta de Historia y Numismatica Americana 
(Buenos Aires, 7 vols., octavo, from 1905 to 1915). 

Valuable notes on some of the most important historical documents 
will be found in E. Boman, Antiqidtes de la region andine (see North- 
West Argentina). 

The most curious collection of all for the geographer is : Pedro 
de Angelis, Coleccion de obras y documentos relativos a la historia avtigua 
y moderna de las provincial del Rio de la Plata. (Buenos Aires, 1837, 
6 vols, octavo, containing many itineraries, journals of expeditions, 
etc., together with notes by D'Azara). 


The second volume (" Territoire ") of the Second recense- 
ment de la RepiiUique argentine (Buenos Aires, 1898) includes 
a joint geographical study by a number of writers. 

Geologic, by J. Valentin. 

Climat, by G. G. Davis. 

Flore, by E. L. Holmberg. 

Some attempt at a general consideration of our geographical 
knowledge of Argentina has been made by E. A. S. Delachaux, 
" Las regiones fisicas de la Republica Argentina {Rev. Mus. 
Plata, XV, 1908, pp. 102-131). 

Our physical knowledge of Argentina has been greatly 
promoted by the work of the Direccion de Minas. The 
results are summarized in the Memorias de la Direccion 
general de Minas, Geologia, e Hidrologia, published from 
1908 onward (Anales del Ministerio de Agricultura, Seccion 
geologia, mineralogia, y mineria : last volume published 
for the year 1915, Buenos Aires, vol. xii. No. 2). 

Special works are published in the same section of the 
Anales del Min. Agric, and in the Boletines de la Direccion 
de Minas, Geologia, e Hidrologia. See, especially, series B 
(Geologia). These reports and the accompanying maps are 
the basis of all work on the geography of Argentina. They 
already cover a great deal of Argentine territory. The 
work of Keidel, in particular, which is an essential contribu- 
tion to the geological history of the South- American continent, 
and that of Windhausen, are largely concerned with physical 
geography, the study of the relief, and the influence of the 
climate on the landscape. 

A summary of the history of study of the soil of Argentina 
will be found in E. Hermitte, La geologia y mineria Argentina 
in 1914 {Tercer Censo Nacional, vol. vii, pp. 407-494). 

As to climate : Buenos Aires Ministerio de Agricultura, 
Servicio Meteorologico Argentina, Historia y Organisacion, 
con un resumen de los resultados, preparado bajo la direcci6n 
de G. G. Davis (Buenos Aires, 1914, quarto), dispenses one 
from consulting any previous works. 

There is a very complete bibliography of works on the 
botany and geographical botany of Argentina in F. Kurtz, 
" Essai d'une bibliographic botanique de I'Argentine " (2nd 
edition, Bol. Acad. Nac. Ciencias Cordoba, xx, 1915, pp. 369- 


There is a convenient summary of our knowledge of the 
primitive population in Felix F. Outes and Carlos Bruch, 
Los aborigenes de la Rep. argentina (Buenos Aires, 1910). 

5. North-West Argentina. 

The most complete general work on irrigation is that of 
E. A. Soldano, La inigacion en la argentina (Buenos Aires, 
1910, octavo). See also C. Wouters, " La irrigacion en el 
valle de Lerma " {An. Soc. Cient. Argentina, Ixvi, igo8, 

pp. 117-145)- 

The best description of the Puna de Atacama and the 
country of the Valles is in Eric Boman, " Antiquites de la 
region andine de la Republique Argentine et du desert 
d' Atacama " {Mission scientifique G. de Creqiii, Montfort, et 
E. Senechal de la Grange, Paris, 1908, 2 vols.). 

L. Brackebusch, " Ueber die Bodensverhaeltnisse des 
nordwestlichen Teiles der Argentinischen Republik mit 
Bezugnahme auf die Vegetation " {Petermann's Mitieilungen, 
1893, p. 153) is a general description of the whole of north- 
western Argentina ; but Brackebusch's description of his 
journey, " Viaje a la provincia de Jujuy " {Bol. Inst. Geog. 
Argent., iv, 1883, pp. 9-17, 204-211, and 217-226) is fresher 
and more useful. 

I have mentioned in the note to p. 40 Bodenbender's 
work on the province of La Rioja. 

Of the various articles, from all quarters, on North-Western 
Argentina the following may be noticed : — 

J. B. Ambrosetti, " Viaje a la Puna de Atacama de Salta 
a Caurchari " {Bol. Inst. Geog. Argent., xxi, 1900, pp. 87-116). 

F. Kuhn, " Descripci6n del camino desde Rosario de 
Lerma hasta Cachi " {Bol. Inst. Geog. Argent., xxiv, 1910, 
pp. 42-50). ^ 

H. Seckt, '' Contribucion al conocimiento de la vegetaci6n 
del Nordeste de la Rep. Arg. — Valles de Calchaqui y Puna 
de Atacama " {An. Soc. Cient. Arg., Ixxiv, 1912, pp. 185- 

Juan F. Barnabe, " Informe sobre el distrito minero de 
Tinogasta " {An. Min. Agric, Seccion Geol. Mineralogia y 
Mineria, x. No. 4, Buenos Aires, 1915). 

On the Puna de Atacama : 


L. Caplain, " Informe sobre el estado de la mineria en 
el Territorio de los Andes " {An. Min. Agric, Seccion 
Geol. Miner alogia y Mineria, vii, No. i, Buenos Aires, 

On the sub-Andean chains : — 

Guido Bonarelli, " Las Sierras subandinas del Alto y 
Aguaragiie y los 3^acimientos petroliferos del distrito minero 
de Tartagal " {ihid., viii, No. 4, Buenos Aires, 1913). See 
also Direccion General de Minas, Geol., e Hidrol, Boletin, 
series B, No. 9 (Buenos Aires, 1914). 

On the Chaco Saltefio : — 

L. Arnaud, " Expedicion al Chaco " {Bol. Inst. Geog. 
Argent., vi, 1885, pp. 201-210). 

On the part of the San Luis province that lies in the zone 
of the scrub : — 

Ave-Lallemant, " Datos orograficos e hidrograficos sobre 
la Provincia de San Luis " {Bol. Inst. Geog. Argent., v, 1884, 
pp. 191-196, and 222-224), and " Apuntes sobre represas y 
baldes en San Luis " {An. Sac. Cient. Arg., xi, 1881, pp. 178- 

A. L. Cravetti, " Investigacion agricola en la Provincia 
de San Luis " (Buenos Aires, 1904, An. Min. Agric, Seccion 
Agric, Botanica, y Agronomia, vol. i. No. 5). 

On the scrub south of Mar Chiquita : — 

H. Frank, " La repoblacion forestal en la region de la 
Mar Chiquita " {Bol. Dep. gen. Agric. y Ganaderia, Prov. 
Cordoba, ii, 1912, pp. 52-57), and " Contribucion al conoci- 
miento de la Mar Chiquita " {ibid., pp. 87-101). 


On Tucuman see Emilio Lahitte, La industria azucarera, 
apuntes de actualidad (Buenos Aires, 1902). 

The best source of the economic history of the sugar 
industry is the file of the Revista azucarera (" organa de 
los cultivadores de cafia y fabricantes de azucar," Buenos 

On Mendoza, " Investigacion vinicola " (Buenos Aires, 
1903, Anales, Min. Agric, Seccion Comercio, Industrias, y 
Economia, i. No. i). 


7. Forestry Industries. 

Rudolf Leutgens, " Beitrage zur Kenntniss des Quebracho- 
Gebietes in Argentinien und Paraguay " [Mitteil. Geogr. 
Ges. Hamburg, xxv, 1911, pp. 1-70). 

8. Patagonia. 

A. The Tableland. 

Apart from Villarino's journey on the Rio Negro in the 
eighteenth century, the first journey across the Pata- 
gonian tableland is that of G. Chaworth Musters, Al Home 
with the Patagonians (London, 1871). 

In the early volumes of the Bol. Inst. Geog. Argent. 
will be found the results of various explorations between 
1878 and 1885 by Argentine travellers. 

With this group of documents, which provided the first 
material for his conclusions, we may associate the geological 
studies of Florentino Ameghino, " L'age des formations 
sedimentaires de Patagonie " {An. Soc. Cient. Argentina, 
1, 1900, pp. 109-130, 145-160, and 209-229 ; li, 1901, pp. 20-39 
and 65-90 ; lii, 1901, pp. 189-197 and 244-250 ; liii, 1902, 
pp. 161-181, 220-249 and 282-342) and " Les formations 
sedim.entaires du cretace superieur et du tertiaire en Pata- 
gonie " {An. Mus. Nac. Buenos Aires, series ii, vol. viii, 
1906, pp. 1-568). 

On the southern part of Patagonia, south of 50° S. lat. : — 

Svenska Expeditionen till Magellanslaenderna {Wissen- 
schaftliche Ergebnisse der Schwedischen Expedition nach den 
Magellans Laendern, 1895-1897, unter Leitung von Dr. 
Otto Nordenskjoeld, Band I, Geologie, Geographic und 
Anthropologic, Stockholm, 1907). 

On the Magellan region and that of the Santa Cruz : — 

Reports of the Princeton University Expeditions to Pata- 
gonia, 1896-9, i, J. B. Hatcher, Narrative of the Expeditions, 
Geography of Southern Patagonia (Princeton and Stuttgart, 


On the Rio Negro district : — 

S. Roth, " Apuntes sobre la Geologia y la Paleontologia 
de las Territorios del Rio Negro y Neuquen " {Rev. Mus. 
Plata, ix, 1899, pp. 141-196). 


Of more recent works we must especially notice those of 
the engineers of the Direccion de Minas : — 

R. Stappenbeck y F. Reichert, " Informe preliminar 
relativo a la parte sudeste del Territorio del Chubut " {An. 
Min. Agric, Seccion Geol. Mineral., y Minas, vol. ix, No. i, 
Buenos Aires, 1909), 

Ricardo Wichmann, various studies of the eastern part 
of the plateau of the Rio Negro {ibid., xiii, Nos. i, 3 and 4, 
Buenos Aires, 1918 and 1919). 

A. Windhausen, studies on the Rio Negro and the Neuquen 
{ibid., X, No. i, Buenos Aires, 1914). The geological results 
of Windhausen 's work are summarized in articles that 
appeared in the American Journal of Science (4th series, 
xlv, 1918, pp. 1-53) and in the Bol. Acad. Nac. Ciencias 
Cordoba (xxiii, 1918, pp. 97-128 and 319-364). 

We must add G. Rivereto, " La valle del Rio Negro " 
{Bol. Soc. Geologica Hal., xxxi, 1912, pp. 181-237, and xxxii, 
1913, pp. 101-142). 

B. The Andes. 

Numerous articles in the Bol. Inst. Geog. Argent, and 
the An. Soc. Cient. Argentina, immediately after the military 
expedition of 1879-1880 (Host, Ave-Lallemant, etc.). 

A detailed study of the Andean region was undertaken 
at the time of the frontier-quarrel between Argentina and 
Chile, and this led to a number of publications. The work 
done by the Argentinians under F, P. Moreno is used in 
Frontera Argentina-Chilena, Memoria presentada al tribunal 
nombrado por el Gobernio de su Majestad Britanica (London, 
1902, 2 vols, quarto, i vol. maps, and i vol. photographs), 
and in the Breve Replica a la memoria Chilena (London, 
I vol. quarto, 1902). See a summary of the results in L. 
Gallois, " Les Andes de Patagonie " {Annates de Geographie, 
x, 1901, pp. 232-259). 

In the Revista and the Anales of the La Plata Museum 
will be found part of the research made during this period 
(1897-1900) by Argentine experts ; especially the work of 
Burckhardt and Wehrli on the Neuquen Cordillera. The 
Chilean work which served as the basis of the Statement 
presented on behalf of Chile in reply to the Argentine Report 


(London, 1902, 4 vols, and 2 vols, as appendices) is, on the 
whole, less valuable. 

Of later travellers we must mention P. D. Quensel, " On 
the influence of the Ice Age on the continental watershed 
of Patagonia " {Bull. Geol. Inst. Univ. Upsala, ix, 1908-9, 
pp. 60-92), and " Geologisch-petrographische studien in der 
Patagonischen Cordillera " {ibid., xi, 1912, pp. 1-114). 

Very important surveys in the Cordillera and on the 
plateau of the Rio Negro were made under the direction 
of Bailey Willis {Northern Patagonia, Ministry of Public 
Works, Bureau of Railways, Argentine Republic ; text and 
maps by the Comision de Estudios hidrologicos, Bailey 
Willis Director, 1911-1914, New York, 1914, i vol and atlas). 

On the Patagonian forest (Argentine slope from 40° S. lat. 
to Cape Horn) see Max Rothkugel, Los Basques Patagonicos 
(Minist. Agric, Direccion Gen. Agric. y Defensa Agricola : 
Ofiicina de Bosques y Yerbales, Buenos Aires, 1916). 

9. The Pampean Region. 

The occupation of the western part of the Pampa between 
1875 and 1880 led to a fairly large amount of research. The 
most important work is the Informe oficial de la Comision 
cientifica agregada al Estado Mayor General de la Expedicion 
al Rio Negro, vol. iii, Geologia, by Dr. Ad. Doering (Buenos 
Aires, 1882). We must also notice G. Ave-Lallemant, 
" Excursion al Territorio indio del Sud " {Bol. hist. Geogr. 
Argent., ii, 1881, pp. 41-49) ; D. Dupont, " Notas geograficas 
sobre el pais de los Ranqueles {Bol. Inst. Geog. Argent., 
1790, pp. 47-56) ; and Est. Zeballos, Descripcion amena de 
la Repuhlica Argentina, vol. i, Viaje al pais de las Araucanos 
(Buenos Aires, 1881). 

Of general works on the Pampa and the Pampean deposits : 

Fl. Ameghino, La formacidn Pampeana (Paris and Buenos 
Aires, 1881), and " Las formaciones sedimentarias de la 
region literal de Mar del Plata y Chapalmalan " {An. Mus. 
Nac. Buenos Aires, series ii, vol. x, 1908, pp. 348-428). 

G. Bodenbender, " La cuenca del valle del rio Primero 
en Cordoba : Descripcion geologica del valle del rio Primero 
desde la Sierra de Cordoba hasta la Mar Chiquita " {Bol. 


Acad. Nac. Ciencias Cordoba, xii, i8go, pp. 1-54) ; and 
" Die Pampa Ebene in Osten der Sierra von Cordoba in 
Argentinien " {Peiermann's Mitteilungen, 1893, pp. 201-237 
and 258-264). 

Santiago Roth, " Beobachtungen ueber Entstehung und 
Alter der Pampasformationen in Argentinien " {Zeitschrift 
der Deutschen Geol. Ges., xi, 1888, pp. 375-464) ; " Beitrag 
zur Gliederung der Sedimentablagerungen in Patagonien und 
der Pampas Region " {Neues Jahrbuch fiir Min., Geol., und 
Paleont., Beilage, Band xxvi, Stuttgart, 1908, pp. 92-150) ; 
and " La construccion de un Canal de Bahia Blanca a las 
provincias andinas bajo el punto de vista hidrogeologico " 
{Rev. Museo de la Plata, xvi, 1909). 

Nouvelles recherches sur la formation pampeenne et I'homme 
fossile de la Repuhliqiie argentine. A collection of scientific 
articles published by R. Lehmann-Nitsche {Rev. Mus. Plata, 
xiv, 1907, pp. 143-488), which contains, especially, one by 
C. Burckhardt, " La formation pampeenne de Buenos Aires 
et Santa Fe," and one by Ad. Doering, " La formation 
pampeenne de Cordoba." 

Ales Hrdlicker, Early Man in South America (Smithsonian 
Institution, Bull. 52, Washington, 1912 — geological part by 
Bailey Willis). 

On the district of the Central Pampa, R. Stappenbeck, 
" Investigaciones hidrogeologicas de los valles de Chapalco 
y Quehue y sus alrededores " (Min. Agric, Dir. Gen. Minas, 
Geol., e Hidrol., Bol. No. 4, Buenos Aires, 1913). 

On various points in detail one may consult : — 

Lavalle y Medici, " Las nivelaciones de la Provincia " 
{Bol. Inst. Geog. Argent., vii, 1866, pp. 57-71). 

P. A. Bovet, El Problema de los Medanos en el Pais (Buenos 
Aires, 1910). 

R. Velasco, " Los Medanos de la Provincia de Cordoba " 
{Bol. Dep. Gen. Agric. y Ganaderia, Prov. Cordoba, i, pp. 155- 


Among descriptions of an economic character, which are 
generally of poor value, we must make an exception in favour 
of Emile Daireaux, La vie et les moeurs a la Plata (Paris, 

A few useful notes on colonization will be found in Teod. 
Morsbah, " Estudios economicos sobre el Sud de la Provincia 


de Buenos Aires " {Bol Inst. Gcog. Argent., ix, 1888, pp. 143- 
151) and in E. Segui, " La provincia de Buenos Aires " {Bol. 
Inst. Geog. Argent., xix, i8g8, pp. 419-440). 

A very useful summary of tlie results of a general inquiry 
into agriculture will be found in " Investigacion agricola en 
la Rep. argent " {Andes Min. Agric. Agronomia, vol. i. 
No. I, 2 and 3, Buenos Aires, 1904 : " Preliminares," by 
Carlos D. Girola, " Investigacion agricola en la region septen- 
trional de la Provincia de Buenos Aires," by Ricardo J. 
Huergo, and " Investigacion agricola en la Provincia de 
Santa Fe," by Hugo Miatello). 

With this inquiry is associated G. D. Girola, El cuUivo 
del trigo en la provincia de Buenos Aires (Buenos Aires, 

Agricultural censuses have been taken repeatedly. For 
1888 F. Latzina, L' agriculture et le hetail dans la Republique 
argentine (Paris, 1889). For 1895 {Secundo censo, see Popula- 
tion) the results are given in C. P. Salas, Bureau central de 
Statistique de la province de Buenos Aires and L' agriculture, 
I'elevage, et le commerce dans la province en 1895 (La Plata, 
1897 ; maps by Delachaux). For 1908, Censo agro-pecuario 
nacional. La ganaderia y la agricuUura en 1908 (Buenos 
Aires, 3 vols, quarto, 1909). Vol. iii contains a series of 
monographs dealing not only with the Pampean region, but 
the economic history of the whole country. 

For 1914 {Tercer censo, see Population) the publication 
of vol. V, relating to agriculture, is unfortunately delayed. 
There is also available a census of cattle made in 1915 for 
the Buenos Aires province, Proviticia de Buenos Aires, Min. 
Obras Publicas, Censo Ganadero (1916). 

10. The Railways. 

For the history of the railways see Rebuelto, " Historia 
del desarollo de los ferrocarriles argentinas " {Bol. Obras 
Publicas, vol. v, 191 1, pp. 1 13-172, vol. vi, 1913, pp. 1-48 
and 81-110, and vol. viii, 1913, pp. 1-32), and the entire 
series of the Boletin de Obras Publicas. 

A sort of annual of the Argentine railways has been pub- 
lished every year since 1906 under the title Killik's Argentine 
Railway Manual (London, i vol. with map, last issue 1918). 


ir. The Parana. 

E. A. S. Delachaux, " Los problemas geograficos del 
territorio Argentino " [Rev. Univ. Buenos Aires, 1906, v), 
includes a study of the floods of the Parana. 

The chief source is the memoir of Repossini, " Memoria 
sobre el rio Parana " {Bol. Obras Publicas, vol. vi, 1912, 
pp. 141-168 and 254-264, vol. vii, 1912, pp. 31-48 and 
163-186, and vol. viii, 1913, pp. 33-99)- It contains on a 
reduced scale the map issued by the Ministry of Public Works, 
which is not available in France. The defect is supplied 
by the English Admiralty Charts, " Rio de la Plata," 
1869 (No. 2544 in the Catalogue of Admiralty Charts), and 
" River Parana," parts i, ii, iii, iv, v, and vi of 1905 (Nos. 
1982/A and 1982/B). 

There is an interesting economic summary in W. S. Barclay, 
" The River Parana, an economic survey " [Geogr. Journal, 
xxxiii, 1909, pp. i-io). 

On the estuary : — 

Alej. Foster, " Regimen del Rio de la Plata y su correccion " 
{An. Soc. Cient. Argent., Iii, 1901, pp. 209-234). 

G. Rovereto, " Studi di geomorfologia argentina," ii, 
" II rio della Plata " {Bol. Soc. Geol. Ital., xxx, 1911). 

12. Population. 

Besides municipal and provincial censuses, there have 
been three general censuses : 

First census made in 1869, one folio volume published 
in 1872. I have only been able to consult Oficina del Censo. 
Informe sobre la operacion y resultado del Primer censo argen- 
tino (Buenos Aires, 1870, octavo). 

Second census of the Argentine Republic, May 10, 1895 
(2 vols, quarto, Buenos Aires, 1898). 

Tercer Censo Nacional levantado el 1° de junio de 1914 (10 
vols, quarto, Buenos Aires, 1916-1917). Only the fifth 
volume, on agriculture, is not yet to hand. 

A geographical interpretation of the distribution of the 
population was attempted by E. A. S. Delachaux, " La 
poblaci6n de la Rep. Argent." {Rev. Univ. Buenos Aires, 
iii, 1905). 



Abipones, the, 24 
Acequia, the, 45, 69, 83 
Aconcagua, 19, 38, 59, 70, 71 
iEohan deposits, 21, 124, 170 
Agricultural Centres Law, the, 202 
Aguadas, 61, 210 
Algarrobas, 39, 54, 64 
Alhuampa, 113 
Alumine, the, 128, 129 
Ambrosetti, J. B., 136, 282 
Ameghino, F., 168 
Andalgala, 42 
Andes, the Argentine, 19, 37, 46, 

54. 57. 70, 126 
Andes, the Patagonian, 19, 120, 

126, 129 
Anecon, 122, 151 
Antof&gasta, 54, 55 
Apipe rapids, the, 239 
Apostoles, 116 
Araucanians, the, 24, 121 
Argentine hydrographic service, 

Arrieros, the, 51, 216, 217 
Arroyo del Rey, 26 
Asses, trade in, 53 
Atamisqui, 97, 98 
Atuel, the, 81, 84 
Azcarate, 51, 52 

Bahia Blanca, 25, 32, 148, 155, 
164, 168, 173, 198, 223, 227, 

Bajada Grande, the, 242, 243 

Bamboo, 133 

Banados, the, 62, 63, 67, 97, 98, loi 

Barra del Indio, the, 253 

Barrancas, 17, 245 

Basalt, 122, 125, 149 


Basques in Argentina, 183, 186 

Bellavista, 246 

Bellville, 167, 188 

Bermejo, the, 40, 115 

Bodegiieros, 87-90 

Bodenbender, G., 40, 57, 168, 286 

Bolivia, relations with, 48, 50, 52, 

53, 70 
Boman, E., 47, 282 
Brackebusch, L., 48, 54, 278, 282 
Brazil, 109, 116, 182, 235 
Breeding, 22, 131, 179, 188, 189 
British Navy in Argentine waters, 

238, 24, 252 
Buenos Aires, 17, 29, 30, 32, 57, 

109, 112, 155, 159, 164, 184, 

209, 218, 220, 239, 254, 259, 

Burruyacu, Sierra de, 72, 73 

Calchaqui, 48, 54 

Caldenes, 163 

Canadas, 107 

Canadones, 122-141 

Candelaria, no, 116 

Caneros, the, 74, 75 

Carcaraila, the, 171, 212, 246 

Carilaufquen, the, 141 

Carmen, 130 

Carri Lauquen, Lake, 128, 151, 157 

Catamarca, 31, 43, 45, 55, 80 

Cattle, Creole, 22, 131, 179-183, 

Cattle, pedigree, 22, 188, 189 
Cattle fairs, 209 
Cattle trade, the, 48, 50, 53, 66, 

80, 131, 179-189, 2o6-2n8 
Catuna, 62 
Cedar-forests, I09 



Central Argentine Railway, 76, 

191, 220, 225 
Central Cordoba, 74, 76, gi, 104, 

Central Norte Railway, 114 
Cerco, the, 63 
Cerro Payen, the, 119, 136 
Cerros Colorados, 150, 151 
Chaco, the, 32, 78, 96, 104-115 
Chaco, Saltefio, the, 58-60 
Chamical, 62 
Chanares, 163 
Charcoal-burners, 112 
Chicago and Buenos Aires, 17 
Chile, relations with, 25, 29, 30, 

48. 49.53. 54. 57. i34. I37. 138. 

204, 205, 210 
Chile road, the, 210, 213 
Chilean flour, 79 
Chiriguanos, the, 79 
Chivilcoy, 190, 194, 195, 212, 263 
Choele Choel, 133, 134, 149 
Chosmalal, 120, 137, 144 
Chubut, the, 138, 140, 155 
Climate, 46, 70, 71, 72, 77, 80, 92, 

119, 120, 139 
Coilrue, the, 127 
Colalao del Valle, 42 
Colastine, 226, 253 
Colonia, 251, 252 
Colonies, the, 191, 1931 195, 196 
Colonization Companies, 202 
Colonos, 75 
Colorado, the, 172 
Conlara, 178 
Cordillera, the, 19, 20, 48, 81, 121, 

126, 129 
Cordoba, 29, 33, 50, 57, 164 
Cordoba, Sierra de, 209 
Corrientes, 32, 49, 102, 107, 108, 

189, 215, 257, 269 
Costa, the, 41, 42, 60 
Cruz Alta, 73, 74, 75 
Cuarto, the Rio, 25, 211 
Cuenca Vidal, 155 
Cumbre Tunnel, 222 
Cuyo, 79, 85, 86, 96 
Cypresses, 127 

Daireaux, E., 187, 193, 287 

Dairies, 186, 190, 193 

Dams, 69-70 

Darwin, C, 23, 123, 133, 170, 217, 

D'Azara, F., 25, 28, 49, 102, 174, 

180, 212, 279, 280 
Dead valleys, 122, 129 
Demarcacidn, 44 
Diamante, 248, 249 
Diamante, the, 81, 84 
Diez y seis de Octubre, 120, 144 
Doering, A., 168, 286 
Dolores, 178 
D'Orbigny, A., 130, 131, 133, 142, 

180, 236, 237, 280 
Drainage, 83 

Drought, 65, 66, 105, 120 
Dulce, the Rio, 97, 98 
Dunes, 173, 174, 181 
Durham cattle, 189, 207 

English Bank, the, 252 
Entre Rios, 169, 182, 186, 194 
Epecuen Lake, 212 
Exhibition, San Francisco, 7 

Falda, the, 73, 74 

Famatina, Sierra de la, 40 

Fiords, the Patagonian, 20, 128 

Flax, 176, 196, 197 

Floods, 97, 99, 211 

Floods on the rivers, 240, 241 

Forests, 23, 96-118 

Forts, the early, 26, 27 

Frontiers, early, 25 

Funes, Dean G., 30, 179 

Galena, the, 218 

Gallegos, 120, 121, 136 

Garcia, Colonel, 27, 182, 183, 210 

Garrapate, the, 22, 189, 207 

Gauchos, 218 

Gauge, differences of, 221, 222, 

231, 232 
General Lavalle, 165 
Geological formations, 40, 121, 

122, 124-126, 129, 166, 168 
Glaciers, the Patagonian, 19, 36, 

123, 128, 129 
Gold, 138 



Goods, traffic, analysis of, 228-231 
Granite, 121, 125, 149 
Guapichas, 54 
Guayxa, the, 246 

Harvest, labour and the, 266 
Helms, A. Z., 51 
Hides, 178-180 
Holmberg, E. L., 23, 281 
Hrdlicka, A., 168, 287 
Huari, 56 
Hutchinson, F. J., 50 

Immigration, g, 116, 137, 191, 

263, 264 
Indians, relations with the, 24-2S, 

47. 131-135 
Indians, the Patagonian, 131- 135 
Ingeniero White, 226 
Intrusos, 139, 157 
Invernadas, the, 51, 53, 60, 65, 183 
Irrigation, 36, 41-46, 61, 64, 74, 

83-86, 144, 154 
Itinerary of author, 6 
Ituzaingo, 246, 257 

Japan, trade with, 8 
Jegou, A., 205 
Jerked meat, 115 
Jesuit missions, no 
Jujuy, 38, 56, 77 
Junin, 194 

Labour-supply, 76, 77, 79, 88, 

Laca,r, Lake, 144 
Land-ownership, 61, 201-203 
Land, speculation in, 201 
Lanin, Mount, 128-147 
Larch, the, 146 
La Rioja, 32, 33, 59, 80, 209 
Ledesma, 78 
Lenga, the, 127 
Lima, 29, 48 
Limay, the, 120, 123, 124, 130, 

146, 154 
Lincoln sheep, 184 
Los Sauces, 41 
Lucerne-farms, 53, 67, 155, 176- 

178, 196 

Lumbrera, Sierra do la, 58, 70, 

Mackann, W., 180, 280 
Maize, 71, 192-194, 197, ig8, 230 
Mallin, 124, 125, 142, 151 
Manantiales, 142, 148 
Maquinchao, 148, 150, 151, 153, 

Mar Chiquita, 113, 162, 173, 176, 

Markets, Argentine, 203-210 
Martin Garcia, 166, 251, 253 
Matacos, the, 79 
Mate, 33, 109-112, 117 
Matto Grosso, 117, 235 
Mayten, 128 
Mejia, Ramos, 224 
Mendoza, 19, 32, 33, 50, 57, 79- 

93, 218, 270, 271 
Merced, the, 61, 67 
Mercedario, 19 
Merino sheep, 184 
Mesopotamia, the Argentine, 18 
Miatello, 176 
Migrations of cattle, 65, 143, 157- 


Migrations of indigenous popula- 
tion, 264-267 

Misiones, 33, 109-112, 115 

Molle, 127 

Monte, the, 22, 96 

Montevideo, 238, 251 

Moussy, Martin de, 25, 50, 204, 210 

Muleteers, the, 216-7 

Mule- trade, the, 49, 51-2, 53, 55 

Nahuel Huapi, Lake, 120, 126, 
127, 130, 132, 133, 144, 225, 
245. 247 
Navigation, statistics of, 258 
Negro, the Rio, 32, 80, 119, 121, 

130. 153 
Negroes captured, 131 
Neuquen, the, 129, 130, 137, 138, 


Oases, 36, 41, 86 

Oats, 199 

Obrajes, the, 103-105, 107 



Olavarria, 194 
Olta, 62 
Omber, the, 163 
Ortiz Bank, the, 252 
Otway Water, 129, 136 

Pagancillo, 40 

Pampa, the, 17, 21, 33, 161-208, 

261, 262 
Pampa, extent of the, 102 
Parabolic tariffs, 226 
Paracao, 248 

Paraguay, 109, no, 236, 269 
Paraguay, the river, 116, 165, 235, 

241. 247 
Paraisos, 175 
Parand, the, 17, 26, in, 112, 171, 

214, 234, 236-50 
ParanA de las Palmas, the, 250, 

252, 253 
Parana Guazu, the, 251 
Parana Mini, the, 253 
Parish, Sir Woodbine, 30, 100, 130, 

182, 213, 215, 261, 280 
Paso Paraguayo, the, 250 
Pasto dulce, 23, 24, 183 
Pasto duro, 23, 24, 183 
Paslo fuerto, 23 
Patagones, 153, 154 
Patagonia, 11 9- 160 
Pehuenches, the, 24, 131 
Peru, relations with, 28, 29, 49, 5 1 
Peru road, the, 209, 210, 213, 214, 

Piedra Blanca, 43 
Pine forests, 109 
Plata, Rio de la, 28, 29, 234, 239 
Playa Honda, the, 252, 233 
Poma, 56 
Poncel, B., 31, 53 
Population, growth of, 261-263 
Ports, 225 

Portuguese, relations with the, 235 
Posadas, in, 116, 242, 248, 249 
Potatoes, 205 

Pozos del Barca Grande, 253 
Protectionism, 93, 94 
Puerto Belgrano, 232 
Pumpkin, the, 100 
Puna, the, 37, 38 

Puna de Atacama, 47, 48 
Punta Arenas, 136 

Quebracho, the, 23, 96, 103, 256-7 
Quebracho Herrado, 26 
Quebradas, 38, 41, 53 
Quetriquile, 151 
Quinto, the Rio, 26 
Quiroga, 59 

Railways, 74, 76, 91, 104, 114, 191, 

211, 220-233 
Railway tariffs, 226 
Rainfall, 21, 38, 39, 71, 72, 80, 

120-121, 164 
Ranqueles, the, 24, 131 
Refrigerators, 143, 187, 188, 209 
Repossini, 254 
Represa, the, 64, 210 
Riachucho, 247 
Rincones, 180 
River-floods, 240, 241, 243 
River-traffic, 235-258 
Roads, 210-220 
Roca, General, 26, 27 
Rosario, 92, 164, 171, 173, 191, 

215, 221, 239, 245, 253 
Rosario de Lerma, 55, 56 
Rosas, General, 30, 238 

Saladeros, 184, 189 

Salado, the, 23, 26, 112, 171 

Sail, the, 69, 77 

Salitral, 124, 149 

Salt Lakes, the, 24 

Salt Road, the, 212 

Salta, 29, 32, 33, 38. 46, 48, 51, 

59, 70, 214, 218 
San Cristobal, 114 
San Feliciano, 248 
San Javier, no, 114, 249 
San Jose, 116, 134 
San Juan, 19, 32, 33, 50, 66, 79, 82 
San Lorenzo, 249 
San Luis, 33 
San Pedro, 78, 289, 250 
San Rafael, 80, 81, 82, 172, 177 
Sancho, 71 
Santa Cruz, the, 120, 121, 12? 



Santa Fe, 26, 52, 112, 114, 175, 

191, 196, 198, 253 
Santa Maria, 55, 56, 77 
Santiago del Estero, 26, 28, 50, 

60, 77, 97, 113 
Saw-mills, 106-8 
Scrub, the, 22, 96 
Seasonal migrations, 266 
Selective breeding, 21, 179, 188, 

Sheep-breeding, 139-144, 183-186 
Shipping, 236, 740, 253-259 
Sierra de los Llanos, 59-63, 67 
Sierra d'UIapes, 66 
Somuncura, 122, 152 
Spaniards, the early, 28, 29, 48 
Stage-coaches, 210 
Straits of Magellan, 129 
Sugar-industry, the, 69-79 
Suerte de agua, the, 85 

Tablelands, the alluvial, 17, 37 
Tandil, Sierra de, 25, 172, 179, 182, 

184, 190 
Tannin, 102, 105, 106, 107 
Tehuelches, the, 131 
Texas fever, 22, 189 
Teran, M. J. B., 7 
Tercero, the Rio, 211, 213 
Tierra del Fuego, 128, 140 
Tinogasta, 48 
Tobacco, 10 1 
Tobas, the, 24, 26 

Toma, the, 63 

Tosca, the, 123, 172, 173, 178 
Tostado, 114 

Trans-Andean railway, 220, 221, 

Transhumation, 143, 156-159, 182 

Transport, evolution of, 215-220, 

Travelling, early difficulties of, 
2 1 1-2 19, 237-238 

Travesias, the, 52, 60, 142, 211 

Tronador, Mount, 128, 147 

Troperos, the, 217-19 

Tucunicin, 29, 32, 33, 69-79, 218, 
221, 270, 271 

Tunuyan, the, 81, 82 

Tupungato, 19 
Turno, the, 44, 85, 86 

United States, comparison with 

3-2. 34 
United States, trade with, 8 
Urban centres, 268, 269 
Urquiza, 26, 180, 215 
Uruguay, 116 
Uruguay, the river, no, 235, 238, 

Useless Bay, 129 

Valcheta, 122, 123, 149, 150, 153 

Valle de Lerma, 48, 54 

Valle Viejo, 43, 45 

Valles, 37-48 

Vegas, 54, 144 

Veinte cinco de Mayo, 194, 262 

Ventana, Sierra de, 172, 182, iy8, 

Villa Concepcion, no 
Villa Maria, 113, 213 
Villa Mercedes, 25, 66, 113, 164, 

174, 177, 207, 221 
Villa Parana, 245 
Villa Rica, no, in 
Villarino, 130, 133 
Villa Urquiza, 244 
Vilque, 56 
ViHatores, 87-93 
Vineyards, 80-93 
Volcada de agua, 45 
Volcanic eruptions, 122, 125 

Wagons, travel by, 216, 217 
War, the European, effect of, 8 
Water-power in Patagonia, 146 
Water-rights, 43-46, 61, 64, 84-86 
Water-supply, 36, 38, 39, 41-46, 

61, 64, 72, 83-86, 141, 154, 181 
Welsh in Patagonia, 138 
Wheat, 190-192, 194, 198, 199, 

Wheelwright, 221 
Wild cattle, 1 79-1 81 
Willis, Bailey, 138, 146, 147, 152, 

Wind, action of the, 20, 124, 170 


Wine-industry, the, 80-95 
Wool, 139, 183-185 


Yguassu, the, 242, 246, 257 

Yerbales, the, 49, 109-112, 115, 

Zapala, 156, 158 
Zeballos, 204, 213 
Zonda, the, 41 

Printed in Great Britain by 













f nn/Jnn • Allamic House, Moc 
l^OnaOn . America House. Coc 

Buenos Aires : Edificio Britamco. 

/ nnrtntl • ^''^'''''^ House, Moorgate. E.G. 2. 
l^UJiaVn . America House. Cockspur St., S.W. 1. 






ORDINARY STOCK £29.090,000 

5 % PREFERENCE STOCK . . . . 8,000,000 

4 % DEBENTURE STOCK .. 15,605,797 

4i % DEBENTURE STOCK- SnladiUo Branch— 

(not negotiable) .. 1,032,930 


A/C — Brandzen Branch 242.600 


A/C— Patagones Branch . . 753,870 

£54 725 197 

(Borrowing Powers, £2,185,333.) £57,635,197 

IM LONOOM - RIvor Platm Houme, Finsbury Ctfoua, E.C.X. 
m BUENOS A YRES, Local Committoe—Callo Cangallo, 504. 
Bmnoral Manmgar and Gmnmral Offices— 

Plaxa Constitucion Station. 

THE Company ovv'ns and works a system of rai ways 3,947 miles in 
length, which serves the greater part of the province of Buenos 
Ayres, and possesses terminal stations in the City of Buenos Ayres, La 
Plata, Mar del Plata, Zapala, Bahia Blanca, and Carmen de Patagones. 

The Company also possesses interchange stations for the transport 
of traffic with the Western Railway at Marmol, Barracas al Bud, Merlo 
and Carhue, and also with the Bahia Blanca and North-Western 
Railway at Bahia Blanca, Darragueira, and \vith the Midland Railway 
at Buenos Ayres and Carhue. 

The Company has direct access to all ports of the Province of 
Buenos Ayres, having entered into an agreement with the Southern 
Dock Co., in which it possesses a large proprietary interest, and is con- 
nected by means of its own lines with the Government Docks in 
Buenos Ayres. In La Plata the Southern Railway has direct access to 
the large docks which were ceded to the National Government by the 
Provincial Government, and the Port lines there are worked by the 
Company for account of the Government. 

At Bahia Blanca the Company has constructed large steel moles, 
and also a mole for loading cereals, which are provided with elevators, 
electric cranes and other modern machinery for the rapid and economical 
loading and discharging of merchandise, and providing accommodation 
for some 20 ocean-going ships. At this port and at the Southern Dock, 
Buenos Ayres, tanks have been erected for the storage of fuel oil, 
which is largely used in locomotives throughout the system. 

Besides the commercial ports above referred to, the Railway Company 
serves two or three popular hohday resorts which are yearly becoming 
more frequented, such as Mar del Plata, Miramar and Necochea on 
the coast, and Sierra de la Ventana and Tandil situated in the hilly 
districts of the Province. 



The Direct and Express Route between Buenos Aires 
and Rosario, Cordoba, Santa Fe, Santiago del Estero and 
Tucuman, with connections to the Northern Provinces. 


High-class Catering at moderate prices. 

Fast Trains to the health resort of Alta Gracia 
and the Cordoba Hills. Excursion Tickets at 
special fares, including railway transportation 
and hotel accommodation for seven, fourteen, 
or thirty days. 

in connection with the Argentine State Lines at Tucuman. 

Excellent service of Electric and Steam Trains to and 

from the Buenos Aires Suburban Districts, including 

TIGRE, the Argentine Henley. 

For further information apply to : — 

HOWARD WILLIAMS, C.B.E., General Manager. 

Information Bureau, 

Central Argentine Railway, 
299 Bartolome Mitre, Buenos Aires 

Or to the Offices of the Company : — 

F. FIGHIERA, Secretary. 

3a Coleman Street, London, E.G. 2. 


Illustrated and with Maps. Demy 800, cloth. 

1 CHILE. By G. F. Scott Elliott, F.R:G S. 21s. net. 

2 PERU. By C. Reginald Enock, F.R.G.S. 18s. net. 

3 MEXICO. By C. Reginald Enock, F.R.G.S. 15s. net. 

4 ARGENTINA. By W. A. Hirst. 15s. net. 

5 BRAZIL. By Pierre Denis. 15s. net. 

6 URUGUAY. By W. H. Koebel. 15s. net. 

7 GUIANA : British, French and Dutch. By James 

RoDVVAY. 15s. net. 

8 VENEZUELA. By Leonard V. Dalton, B.Sc. 

15s. net. 

9 LATIN AMERICA: Its Rise and Progress. By 

F. Garcia Calderon. With a Preface by Raymond 
Poincare, President of France. 15s. net. 

10 COLOMBIA. By Phanor J. Eder, A.B., LL.B, 

15s. net. 

11 ECUADOR. By C. Reginald Enock, F.R.G.S. 

15s. net. 

12 BOLIVIA. By Paul Walle. 18s. net. 

13 PARAGUAY. By VV. H. Koebel. 15s. net. 


T. FISHER UN WIN LTD., 1 Adelphi Terrace. London. 






3 1236 01228 6988 

F2808 .D39 

Denis, Pierre 
The Argentine republic, 
its development and 
progress ,