There are several “Puertos” (ports) in Chile, amongst which you can find Puerto Montt, Puerto Aysén, Puerto Williams, and so forth. But there is one which most people have not heard of. That port is Puerto Toro, a village that a few days ago commemorated its 119th anniversary as the southernmost town in the world. That is why the civil and military authorities, amongst them the governor of the Chilean Antarctic Province and the mayor of Cape Horn, went sailing in Puerto Williams so as to honor the town and its people.
In the late 19th century, the Chilean authorities realized they needed to take a different approach in regards to colonizing the south of Chile, especially the Beagle Channel. It was then when the governor Daniel Briceño decided to found a small colony in Navarino Island, motivated by the local ‘gold rush’ of 1892.
Between July and September of that year over 15 vessels arrived in Lenox Island, carrying more than 424 passengers. Some months later, Briceño was relieved by Manuel Señoret, who took charge of this role in Magallanes and fulfilled the wishes of his predecessor and the Chilean government: to augment the presence of people and optimize the colonization process in the area.
The 1st of November of 1892, the governor Señoret boarded the Magallanes vessel heading south, further south, accompanied by the captain Ramiro Silva and a personal detachment made up by one sergeant and eight cops. The only suitable spot for placing their administrative base was Puerto Toro, named after the vaporboat “Toro”, established there three years before. Before that, the place was known as Afluriwaia.
The 26th of November, the governor founded the southernmost town in the world, which quickly became the demographic and service centre of the east coast of Navarino Island and the Islands Pícton, Lenox, and Nueva. Señoret was responsible for promoting the ‘Chilenization’ and colonization of the southern islands. With a strong spirit and clear vision of the future of this region, he made sure that the Chilean presence and national sense of belonging became a reality in this extreme area.
Nevertheless, there are some who say Señoret allowed an excessive amount of colonists, and permitted the abuse and mistreatment towards the indigenous inhabitants by the newcomers.
Nowadays, Puerto Toro houses about a hundred people, amongst civilians, fishermen, teachers, policemen and sailors who live there with their families. There is also a mobile population that grows during the fishing high season, mainly focused on the extraction of spider crab.
If you want to visit Puerto Toro do not forget to check our hotels in Navarino Island.