Puerto Bories Travel Guide

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The Frigorifico at Pto Bories, Balmaceda glacier in the distance

The Frigorifico at Pto Bories, Balmaceda glacier in the distance

Robert Runyard

Puerto Bories is located about 3 km to the northwest of Puerto Natales, in the Ultima Esperanza province of Chile's XII region. It was founded as a company town for the Sociedad Explotadora Tierra del Fuego (SETF) in about 1913, although the site had been previously used for other smaller scale operations, including a tallow-production activity and a small sawmill.  The SETF operation, locally known as the "frigorifico" (freezer plant) consisted of a processing center for the large sheep stations (estancias) in the surrounding parts of Chile and Argentina, and the products included mutton, fat (tallow), wool, hides, and the "tripas" (offal) from sheep production.  The SETF operation contained its own power generation, which at first was fired by coal and wood, and later by natural gas that was (and is) available in the region. The coal and gas fired steam boilers powered an electrical generation system as well as the extensive refrigeration works necessary to freeze the meat products that were held for periods of time awaiting ships that would transport these products to markets, primarily in the United Kingdom.  Although the SETF was locally incorporated (in Chile) the bulk of the management and technology, and capital, was British or from the British Commonwealth. 

A small residential community was established surrounding the industrial plant and included housing for the managers and senior technical personnel, who were mostly though not exclusively British. There were also tennis courts and a swimming pool, and even a radio station.  Later, a hotel, the "Hotel Cisne de Cuello Negro," was added, and it is still in operation. The name of the hotel derives from the Black Necked Swan which is commonly seen in the waters near Bories and elsewhere in southern Chile.

Today the "frigorifico" at Puerto Bories is a national monument and museum.  Guided tours are available for a nominal fee and these allow visitors to view the largest and best preserved operation of its type in all of Patagonia. The nearby residential area, or "Villa Frigorifico Bories," is privately owned. But with the white chimneys and picket fences, the houses here recall the style and times of a small British outpost. 

Part or or all of this text stems from the original article at: Robert Runyard, resident of Pto Bories

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