Wales in Patagonia from 1865


Map Code: Ax01125

‘A little Wales beyond Wales’ was the brainchild of Michael D. Jones, a Welsh non-conformist preacher in the 1860s. At the time, the expanding coalfields in Wales were sucking the lifeblood out of the traditional, Welsh speaking rural hinterland. Welsh migrants to America felt pressured to anglicize, so the decision was made to try Argentina. Some 200 settlers arrived at Puerto Madryn in 1865. Initially, the settlers struggled to survive, helped by mercy missions and assistance from the native Tehuelche. However, through the construction of a network of irrigation canals, the colonists were able to render the land productive, generating 6,000 tons of wheat in 1885. Work on a railway commenced (1886), and settlement spread inland along the Chubut river valley, with Welsh settlers founding Esquel and Trevelin in the foothills of the Andes (1888). The distinctively Welsh character of the colony would decline in the 20th century with subsequent southern European settlement.

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