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Extracts from "Through the Heart of Patagonia"
A journey to the North Arm of Lago Argentino, March-May 1901
In September 1900, a young British writer arrived in Trelew,
Northern Patagonia. Hesketh Prichard had been commissioned by C. Arthur Pearson,
owner of the Daily Express newspaper, to search for the mysterious mylodon.
When well-preserved remains of this creature were discovered in 1895/96 in
a cave near Puerto Consuelo, Última Esperanza, speculation focussed on the possibility
that the species might have survived somewhere in the fastnesses of the Southern
Prichard's travelling companions included Burbury (a local rancher)
and Scrivenor (a geologist), plus several gauchos; they set out on horseback
into the largely unknown and unpopulated Patagonian interior. Along the way,
he recorded the flora and fauna, but failed to find any mylodon:
the creature is now known to have been extinct for several thousand years.
The journey was to be a long one. Their first goal, Lago Buenos Aires, was
reached in two months. After returning to the Atlantic coast in January 1901
to revictual at Puerto Santa Cruz, the travellers turned west again, heading
for Lago Argentino, finally leaving the region by way of Río Gallegos
and Punta Arenas. The whole trip lasted 9 months, covering some 2,000 miles of isolated country,
under difficult and often dangerous conditions.
The resulting book "Through the Heart of Patagonia" was well-received,
and Prichard was to make further adventurous journeys in the following years.
Prichard's route, Lago Argentino (northern section), 1901
The extract presented here describe Prichard's attempt to discover
an unknown large lake whose existence had been postulated by the Argentine
scientist Dr. Francisco P. Moreno in an article published in 1899. For this purpose,
Prichard made a detour to Lago Viedma to "borrow" a motorized launch which had been
used in 1898 by the Chile-Argentina Boundary Comission. The search
was ultimately successful, although the new-found lake [coded 15 on the
map above] was smaller than Moreno had expected. Prichard named it Lake Pearson,
after the expedition's sponsor (nowadays Lago
Anita); while the river [coded 13 on the map] which drains it into Lago Argentino
was named Katarina
River, after Prichard's mother (nowadays Río Caterina).
A decade later, in 1914, the British settler
Percival Masters would
Estancia Cristina in
Some of the author's travelling companions
T. R. D. Burbury
J. B. Scrivenor
Humphrey Jones Jr.
1. "Through the Heart of Patagonia", Hesketh Prichard, New York,
2. "Hesketh Hesketh-Prichard"; http://en.wikipedia.org
Original illustrations: John Guille Millais