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Patagonia Bookshelf

Southern Patagonia: Image Viewer for Photo Albums
1922-25 Baker Ranch: Construction of bridge across the River Chacabuco gorge
The former million-acre Baker Ranch was founded in 1916. It was located in a remote, mountainous area of southern Aysén, in Chilean Patagonia. As a condition of this immense land concession, the Chilean Government required that farm production be exported through a port on the Pacific coast. In the absence of physical infrastructure, the ranch company was obliged to undertake various engineering works, including several bridges and a tunnel. Moreover, a high-powered launch was needed to handle the powerful currents experienced on the River Baker. These early photographs provide a first-hand view of works undertaken in the not-so-distant past, when this corner of Patagonia was truly a "last frontier".

Bridging the River Chacabuco was an audacious engineering challenge for the ranch company. The location chosen was immediately adjacent to its junction with the River Baker, where it runs through a gorge, very deep and very narrow. The accompanying numbered images show different stages in the construction work, from installing the first cables (#1-2), through laying the deck planks (#3-5,7) to the final structure (#6). Over the decades, the bridge became increasingly precarious and dangerous. Finally, it was replaced by a new metal bridge in the late 1960s. Unfortunately, the original structure was declared a public hazard and demolished. [Information kindly provided by Danka Ivanoff.]

Select another album: PeopleLandscapesRiver BakerRiver ChacabucoRiver SaltoRiver of the ÑadisMule transport
1. site of future bridge2. hair-raising work3. bridge under construction
4. overview of structure5. close view of deck workers6. bridge surroundings

Thanks: Adrian Goodall (IV-2014) ; Album created: 16-I-2015 ; Updated: 17-I-2015