This site assembles information on Lake Todos los Santos in the lakes district of Chile. On the left navigation column, a clickable thumbnail activates a link to Google Maps for a view of the Lake. At the western end of the lake is Petrohue, abutment of the 225 road that links to Ensenada and Puerto Varas. At Petrohue, the Lake discharge gives rise to the Petrohue river. On the right bank of the river, the Osorno volcano with its smooth snow-capped cone, sits in between lakes Todos los Santos and Llanquihue. The Cayutue fjord, southern arm of lake Todos los Santos, is separated from Reloncavi sound by a pass called Cabeza de Vaca. Towards north, the Callao valley, served by a hiking trail, links the Todos los Santos with the Rupanco lake. At the eastern end of the Lake, deep in the Andes mountains, is the village of Peulla. Beyond Peulla and north of the massive Tronador mountain, at less than 1000 m altitude, is the Vicente Perez Rosales pass. There is a road over the pass, with continuity towards either Chile or Argentina only by ferry.
As can be seen in the satellite view, the Lake region is covered with forest; this is part of the Southern Temperate Rainforest, a rich and diverse ecological system that thrives with the high rainfall of this region. Lake Todos los Santos, set in between steep mountains and snow-capped volcanoes, offers an impressive landscape. The lake and a large part of its catchment are protected as a part of the Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park (VPRNP). The land surface and the contiguous national parks in Chile and Argentina covers more than 1.5 million hectares (close to 6000 sq. miles). This is a significant size to preserve the integrity and diversity of native life, in particular for species that roam over large spaces. Lake Todos los Santos is easily accessible and its environment is preserved and protected into the future.
A boostable thumbnail image on the left column shows the pointed profile of the Puntiagudo, seen from Punta de las Cruces, and the lake ferry on its route from Petrohue to Peulla. This ferry serves the needs of Peulla, a place that boasts two important hotels, and is also available for rent for freight transport to any place around the lake. The Puntiagudo is a scenic landmark of the lake; its peak reaches into 1700 meters over the lake. Geologists tell us thatbthe Puntiagudo is a volcanic wreck, a stratovolcano that not so many thousand years ago looked like teh Osorno but was eroded by wind and water as its volcanic activity ceased and the load of lava and volcanic ashes was not renewed.
The lake and its region conform a complex universe. Relevant information is relatively scarce and such aspects as biology of plants and animals and the ecology of biomes and ecosystems are known at the level of generalities and assumptions that may be plausible but have not been validated. Anyway, for the faint of hearth, we are in a position to assert that in this region there are no snakes and no vampires.
The average tourist travels between Puerto Montt, Chile, and Bariloche, Argentina, in one day: two provincial cities with their hotels and facilities, 2.5 million acres in two national parks, lakes Llanquihue, Todos los Santos and Nahuel Huapi, onre pass over the Andes, and lets move on. For connoisseurs of good life there are around the lake, in Petrohue, Peulla and Cayutue, comfortable and classy hotels and lodges, supported by a good kitchen and sincerely friendly staff. Other lodges, specializing in catering for the needs of sportsfishers, exist in El Salto and Ensenada. Syndicated professional boaters have their mooring in Petrohue. Rene Yefi, a huilliche first nation fishing and trekking guide, has his base in Ensenada.
In the navigation bar we have inserted buttons that link are useful to obtain additional information on the aspects discussed, and also to prepare and arrange for travel to the region and to use the available facilities. We have visited these Web sites and found them, as far as we can assess, to be bona fide sources.
Comments and additions to this site are welcome. Send your mail to postmaster at lagotodoslossantos.net, who will forward.
Approximate geographical coordinates of the Lake are: latitude 41 degrees S; longitude: 72 degrees W. The mean altitude over sea level is 189 metres. The surface area of the Lake is 178.5 km2 and the shore line adds up to 125 km. The mean depth is 191 metres with a maximum of 337 metres. Thus, if this lake was communicated with the sea, its surface would be 189 metres lower than at present but a part of the lake body, with a maximum depth of 148 metres, would still exist. The lake contains a water volume of 34.4 km 3. The mean time of residence of the water in the lake is of 4 years, that is, it takes an average 4 years for a volume of water equal to the one contained in the lake to be renewed. The tributary catchment of the lake is of 3036 km2, that is, 17 times the lake's surface area.
The condition of the water is generally very good, owing to large suppy provided by rainfall and limited activities and population in the catchment area. There is one island on the lake: Isla Margarita (Isla de las Cabras in older maps), with a surface of 100 hectares. The Lake outflow is through Petrohue River, which discharges into the Reloncavi estuary. The average discharge of the Petrohue river at the Lake outlet is of roughly 270 m3 per second. During rainy spells, inflow from tributary rivers can substantially increase, causing lake level fluctuations of more than 3 meters between the lowest level in the dry season and the highest level in the wet season. These strong water level fluctuations determine the characteristic aspect of the Lake's shoreline with a couple of meters of nude rock on steeps shores, and the presence of sandy beaches during medium and low-flow seasons.
|Surface area||Shoreline||Volume of water||Mean depth||Maximum depth||Average outflow||Mean time of residence||Catchment area|
|178.5 km2||125 km||34.4 km3||191 meter||337 meter||270 m3/s||4 years||3036 km2|
Above is a tabulated selection of lake data. A link to the International Lake Environment Commissios (ILEC) leads to a more complete data set.
The climate is largely determined by the interaction, through the atmosphere, of the Pacific Ocean and the Andes mountain chain. The Andes shield the land from climate influence steming from the east: except for a few days in a year when the hot and dry east wind (the "puelche") blows, humidity-loaded air flows in from the West, the South-West and the North-West, that is, from the Pacific Ocean. There is a vast extension of ocean between Chile and New Zealand, and this is the latitude of the "roaring forties", where reportedly roaring west winds predominate in driving eastwards the waves and the clouds. Further north over the Pacific Ocean, a high pressure region is usually parked, causing the northern quarter of Chile to be arid. The influence of the main wheather systems shifts with the seasons. The result is plenty rainfall almost all year round, and more rainfall on the westen slopes that stand on the way of the moisture-loaded west wind. The "shadow side" of the wind, East of the Andes, receives less precipitation, and there is only a narrow strip of Southern Rainforest east of the Andes. South wind, driven by a southern anticyclone to a northern atmospheric depression, is unfrequent and known as harbinger of a clear sky and fresh temperature.
The picture of the Puntiagudo, taken in Puerto Verde towards North at dawn, while the green world was still in the dark, shows a banner of mist at the peak of the mountain. It visualizes, in a general cloud-free weather, the continuing strong flow of humid air from West to East.
Average annual rainfall on the Pacific coast and plains is of about 2000 mm. On the higher mountain slopes in the Andes precipitation reaches 4000 to 5000 mm, while the lake body takes about 3000mm per year. The wet season is between April and December, the less wet season between January and March. Taking anything above 0.1 mm of precipitation as rain, during the deep winter months of July and August one can expect on average four rainy days of every five. During the high summer in February, it rains on average only every third day. If you are preparing to hike in this region, bring your rainproof! Natural hand-made sheep wool socks, as you can buy in Angelmo near Puerto Montt, will keep your feet warm even when soaked. Same for a real sheep wool jumper worn under your rainproof.
Annual average temperatures oscillate around 11 to 12ºC at the inhabited levels (200 - 500 m altitude). Above 1000 meters altitude snow persists over the winter and beyond. At inhabited levels, maximum average daily temperature may reach 25ºC. Putting at 10ºC the temperature that triggers the growth of vegetation, the vegetational period extends for about half a year.
The Tronador is high enough to generate glaciers, and the rumblings of seracs on this mountain (Tronador stands for "rumbler") reminds that ice age is not so far away.
The South American continent has a long geological history of isolation. The largest land mass on the southern hemisphere was a continent that geologists call Gondwana. About 150 million years ago, take or leave a few millions, parts of the Gondwana continent began drifting away from each other and South America, Antarctica, Australia and New Zealand began to lead an independent continent's life. The drifting speed varies and can be of say 10 cm per year, or 100 km in a million years - which amounts to a thousand km in only ten million years. About 60 million years ago the flow of genes contacts between the Gondwana fragments became as much as non-existing. The common origin in the Gondwana continent explain the existence of life forms in South America, Australia and New Zealand that are more closely related among them than with the flora and fauna of other continents; for example, the genus Nothofagus, present in the Southern Temperate Forest of South America, is also present in Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia.
The lapse of time man has been present on the continent called South America is disputed; many anthropologists agree in that it goes back to some 15 000 years, with some arguing that this point in time may go back to 30 000 years. According to archaeological research on the Monte Verde site, near Puerto Montt, human presence in the region is dated, with reasonable confidence, to 12000 - 13000 years from present.
The Lake landscape owes a large part of its present shape to the action of glaciers and volcanism in the last million years or so. Glaciers alternatively advanced and withdrew during the last 100 000 years, and volcanoes have been active on and off, also shifting activity from one to another and gradually migrating from East to West. Volcanic activity in this region is explosive; volcanoes can violently expell masses of cinder and debris high up into the atmosphere (as recently the Chaiten volcano), sometimes followed by a flow of basaltic lava. The basaltic lava, "andesite" in its local version, often is black and tends to form geometrical columns of rock when cooling. Observation of basaltic lava columns and related phenomena is possible on the road close to Petrohue and in the sector called La Vigueria down the Petrohue river towards Ralun.
Loose volcanic cinders are easily removed by flowing water. Intense rainfall causes flash floods loaded with solid debris, technically called "lahar", that create hazards for anything that stands in their way. Lahar beds are crossed by the road that links Ensenada and Petrohue; building safe bridges over these lahar courses can be costly.
It is easy to imagine the Puntiagudo at a time before the debris and ashes covering it were eroded: it looked like the Osorno. The adventurous peak of the Puntiagudo is the volcanic "chimney" filled with solid andesite. Within a few thousand years, the Osorno may have aged to a similar profile - unless its activity revives.
At the foundation of the landscape around the Todos los Santos is a crystalline granitic rock called "granodiorite". The volcanoes and the recent sediments rest on top of it. Older sediments accumulated before the ice age were eroded and are generally not visible in the Lake region.
The massive Tronador mountain (with a peak close to 3500 meters altitude) on the Chile-Argentina border was formed through volcanism about a million years back.
During the ice age, glaciers fed by precipitation on the high Tronador mountain converged in a large glacier that advanced westwards into the Central Valley of Chile. This glacier pushed out earlier sediments in its bed and carried debris on its surface, leaving morains at its farthest reaches, as on the western shore of the Llanquihue lake. When an inverse climate change caused the glaciers to retreat, the large depression left behind was filled with water. Most geologists agree that a proto-lake covered the area of both the Todos los Santos and the Llanquihue. The Osorno then emerged and built up in the proto-lake; its cone eventually separated Todos los Santos and Llanquihue.
Currently, the Rio Maullin drains lake Llanquihue westwards into the sea, while the Petrohue river drains the Todos los Santos southwards into the Reloncavi estuary. It is seen as likely that the Llanquihue until very recently drained into the Petrohue and towards Reloncavi and was then dammed up by large amounts of debris, stemming from the Osorno or the Calbuco or both, that raised the Ensenada depression. The chronology of these events is disputed, but it could have happened only a few centuries ago.
At various parts on lake Todos los Santos (and on the Llanquihue) there are rooted dead trees under water, witness to sudden and strong changes in surface water levels in relatively recent times. The most probable cause for such water level changes was lava and debris flows from the Osorno that blocked the lake outlet near Petrohue. The "Saltos del Petrohue" are close to the Ensenada-Petrohue road and are open for visit against payment of a small fee to an agent of CONAF stationed there for the purpose of collecting it. It is worth pondering what happened here: at the Saltos, the river flows over recent black lava stemming from the Osorno. To note that the steep mountain left of the river (the "Sierra de Santo Domingo") is constituted of crystalline rock (granodiorite).
As you are watching the Saltos, it could be that you catch sight of a couple of torrent ducks, Merganetta armata, mastering the rapids.
The Monte Verde achaeological site, near Puerto Montt, is credited with human presence since some 12 000 - 13 000 years ago, with a disputed opinion on a settlement existing already 30 000 years before present. The ecological systems west and east of the Andes mountains are very different - humid with coastal access in the west, arid and with a long distance to the sea in the East - and early populations of both sides surely since early times engaged in various forms of intercourse and exchanges.
Specific knowledge related to early settlement on the Lake area is scant. Numerous casual archaeological finds in the Lake area point to a relatively dense human occupation. Most objects found are related to agriculture and food preparation: pottery sherds and grinding stones are common, occasional finds include smoking pipes. The picture on the right shows some of the grinding stones found by a farming family over time. There are legends among local people about "treasures" found; what these treasures may have been is unclear, as such finds according to the law have to be surrendered to the State and, if they take place, are likely to be spirited away. The most remarkable find is a toki, a kind of scepter found by a farmer while plowing his field. The Todos los Santos toki is shaped in polished black andesite and has the form of a toothed bird. This object was stolen in the 1990s and may be in some collection but its presence has not been acknowledged since. Fortunately it is described, albeit in a summary way, in an article published in the Archaeological Journal of La Serena. The picture on the right shows the illustration of the article mentioned.
It would appear, but proof is fragmentary, that the aboriginal population of the Todos los Santos was erased (massacred, sold into slavery) in the 1620s through one or more raids carried out by Spanish inhabitants of Calbuco, a locality on the seashore west of Puerto Montt. There is some evidence that the Todos los Santos is the "Laguna Purailla" or "Purahilla" mentioned in chronicles. Parties of warriors from the Purailla are mentioned as supporting the huilliches of Rupanco in the struggle against the invaders. The route taken for such expeditions would be the same as the current access from Ensenada on the Llanquihue to Petrohue on the Todos los Santos. They would have carried their boats overland and reassembled them in Ensenada to navigate northwards and join with the Rupanco warriors. These boats would presumably have been of the "dalca" type, made of three planks sewn together with leather tongs or vegetal fiber and caulked. Chroniclers said that dalcas could hold up to 20 men. Other names attributed in the past to the Todos los Santos are "Pichilauquen" or "Pichilaguna", which amounts as much as "small lake", and lake "Guechocabi" or "Quechocavi". San Miguel de Calbuco had been founded in 1602 by Francisco de Hernandez and settled with Spanish refugees from Osorno when this city was destroyed in a large uprising of the native Huilliche people resentful of abuse by the occupiers. Towards 1620 a certain Juan Fernandez (not the same as the discoverer of the Juan Fernandez archipelago) led an expedition towards the Todos los Santos for punishment and capture of slaves, proceeding to the Nahuel Huapi by the so-called trail "of the lagunas", that is, via Peulla.
How a Lake settlement could have looked is a matter of conjecture. It can tentatively be assumed that the population present in the Lake region was closely related to the mapuche-huilliche of the Rupanco area. The name Purailla suggests that there were eight main settlements ("ayllus"). One ayllu could have had an average 200 inhabitants each. These people would have been self-subsistence farmers depending on potatoes as staple food. For their potato fields they would have cleared land by fire. The fields gained in this way would be quite steep and were possibly used and replaced in a "slash and burn" approach. In addition, there would be a rich and diverse vegetable garden for garden species such as Chiloe maize, beans, squash, quinoa, mango (Bromus mango, a cereal) and tobacco. The resources of the forest would be tapped: vines for making baskets, fruits for fermented drinks, nuts (such as the fruit of Gevuina avellana) to store and reduce to flour, dried berries reduced to flour, hardy grasses for roofing, wood for the skeleton of housing and to build canoes. The inhabitants would have had lamas (chilihueques) for wool and meat. Trade with the people in the Reloncavi region would have procured them products of the sea such as salted fish, smoked shellfish and dried algae ("cochayuyo", "luche"). It can be conjectured that an annual trading fair took place in Peulla for exchanges with people coming from east of the Andes.
In 1669, Nicolas Mascardi, a Jesuit missionary born 1625 in Sarzana, Italy, was stationed since 1647 in Chile. An educated person, Mascardi stood in epistolary contact with the Rome-based scholar Athanasius Kircher. Assigned to a mission in Chiloe island, he met a group of natives from the Nahuel Huapi, variously referred to as "Puelches" and "Poyas", that had been brought as hostages or slaves by a Captain Diego Villarroel. Mascardi's missionary zeal appears to have been encouraged by a captive called La Reina, the Queen. La Reina, surely an intelligent and enterprising woman, fed to the priest stories about traces that St. Thomas, the apostle of the Indies, had left in the Nahuel Huapi region; the ease with which the natives would accept conversion and pay tribute to the Church and the King, and the "Ciudad de los Cesares" yarn about a lost city of riches. Mascardi and La Reina took, with an expedition composed of other natives freed at the request of Mascardi, a route up the Reloncavi estuary and over the "Cabeza de Vaca" pass that links the Reloncavi estuary with the Cayutue valley. This was most likely one trail used by the natives living East of the Andes to trade with, or to raid, the people of Chiloe settled in the Reloncavi area. Mascardi continued around the Cayutue lake up the Rio Concha and the Rio Quitacalzon valleys into the Rio Blanco valley. This led him to the Vuriloche pass south of the Tronador, and from there to the Nahuel Huapi lake, where Mascardi founded in 1670 a mission. Mascardi explored Patagonia south of the Nahuel Huapi mission and seems to have reached the Straits of Magellan in 1673. He eventually met his fate in 1674 during an expedition.
Mascardi surely saw the landmark Puntiagudo - Huenichemo (or Boñechemo) mountain when entering the Cayutue valley. However, he did not navigate the Todos los Santos lake and had nothing to say about it - unless, of course, more letters by Mascardi appear in some archive to prove that he deserves the title of Discoverer of the Todos los Santos Lake. Indeed, it is known that Mascardi wrote a report on the geography and the inhabitants of Patagonia down to the Straits of Magellan, a document that has not been retrieved. The Lake region was already depopulated in Mascardi's time, but no doubt familiar to local people from Reloncavi.
Unlike Mascardi, Felipe de Laguna, a Jesuit priest who before inmersing in the Spanish main was Philip van den Meeren, of Flanders, navigated the Todos los Santos and left traces of his deeds in his correspondence. Taking for rule of the game that no indigenous person can be credited with "discovery" of his or her own land, Laguna can be designated Discoverer of Lake Todos los Santos. It is true, though, that Laguna's mind was focused on the Nahuel Huapi region and the Todos los Santos was just another obstacle on his path. Laguna had obtained in 1703 the authorization to re-found Mascardi's Nahuel Huapi mission. Together with another priest, Laguna arrived at Nahuel Huapi after three months on the trail. Which trail this was is not clear but it may have been that Laguna took from Santiago to Mendoza and then trekked southwards to the Nahuel Huapi. A third missionary, Jose Guillelmo, joined the missionary party in January 1704. The three conferred and figured that they lacked the means necessary for their purpose. Laguna was appointed by his colleagues to go to Valdivia and solicit support from the Governor of that Spanish stronghold on the Pacific coast. Local people of the Nahuel Huapi were happy to offer their good services to lead Laguna over the mountains to a farewell. The party navigated the Nahuel Huapi to the westernmost point. From there, the expedition climbed up to the mountain pass now known as Los Raulies, a short distance North of the Pérez Rosales pass, and descended along the Rio Peulla valley to the place that already was called Peulla. Father Laguna was heavily impeded carrying religious paraphernalia, but the Puelche were kind and helpful. In Peulla the party met two Spaniards from Calbuco, who completed the repatriation of the priest to the Chiloe mission. Laguna does not reveal much more about Peulla but it can be assumed that the people from East and West of the Andes had an anual trading appointment there. The two Spaniards had navigated the Lake before Father Laguna, but not having produced any chronicle or letter, do not qualify as discoverers. Father Laguna's observation, contained in a letter, is uninspiring: he Laguna was happy to get out of that "horrible laguna" (no pun intended). Laguna died in 1707, his missionary associates soon followed on that outcome and in 1717 the Nahuel Huapi mission was found abandoned and destroyed.
Lake Todos los Santos was re-visited in 1791 by friar Francisco Menendez of the Order of St. Francis. The Franciscans had relayed the Jesuits when the latter were expelled from the Spanish domains in 1767. Menendez was - again - looking for the fabulous City of the Caesars, an El Dorado where the descendants of Spanish conquerors were said to be living in richness, the streets of their city paved with gold, but isolated from the rest of the world. Menendez was supported in his undertaking by the Viceroy of Peru, Don Francisco Gil y Lemos, another believer in the City of the Cesars yarn. The Viceroy of Peru was also the overlord of Chiloe, not yet attached to Chile, and he instructed the Governor of Chiloe to provide to Menendez the necessary means for an expedition. During his first trip from Chiloe to the Nahuel Huapi, while his staff was searching up the rio Concha, a tributary to Laguna Cayutue, for the Vuriloche trail of the Jesuits, Menendez explored lake Todos los Santos with six rowers in a dalca boat constructed in Cayutue. This side-expedition visited the Rio Blanco and Peulla branches of the Lake. Menendez rightly recognized Peulla as leading to a pass across the mountains. He then returned to Cayutue to proceed with the expedition plan, but failed to find the Vuriloche pass. Eventually, on another expedition, Menendez took the Raulies pass over Peulla to get to the Nahuel Huapi, thus retracing the steps of Father Laguna. Menendez was a strong, practical and effective man in running expeditions but did not have scientific training, and his contributions to knowledge of geography, flora and fauna are limited.
Menendez is sometimes credited with christening the Lake as Todos los Santos on this opportunity. This does not seem to be the case because (a) Menendez started his expedition in Castro on 3 January 1791 and was back in Castro on 14 March, whereas All Saints Day is in November, and (b) Menendez knew beforehand that the name of the Lake was Todos Santos. Further research could deliver us the name of the explorer who christened the Laguna Purailla as Todos los Santos (actually, it could have been the same Menendez on a preliminary exploration). Meanwhile, Menendez could be seen as entitled to "Discoverer of the Lake" because he explored it on purpose and was keen on collecting specific information. Menendez had success in reaching the Nahuel Huapi in the following year via Peulla and the Los Raulies pass but had not much more to put on record - except that persistent rain thoroughly soaked his party, which is easy to believe.
In the 19th century, a number of other explorers visited the Lake. These included Chilean Navy staff recognizing the southern Pacific coast (Muñoz Gamero (1849), Vidal Gormaz), and Dr. Franz Fonck, the physician of the German colony in Llanquihue, in 1856. Fonck retrieved in the archives and published the expedition log of Menendez. Guillermo Cox, a Chilean explorer, travelled to the Nahuel Huapi in 1862 - 1863 and produced a fairly usable scheme of the route. Of major significance were the expeditions and studies carried out in the 1890s by Hans Steffen, a German geographer serving the Chilean state as a university professor and an expert for the mission entrusted with the investigation of the southern area where the Chile-Argentina border, agreed by treaty, was still to be determined on the ground. This task was complicated by the text of the political agreement betwen the two countries, which stated that the border would follow the high peaks that divide the waters - but of course, the higher peaks do not necessarily sit on the continental watershed line. Dr. Steffen polished his travel log and published it in the form of a book. Steffen's observations are accurate, scientifically valid and to the point. He was interested by the rooted trees drowned underwater, identified the agricultural potential of the Puntiagudo valley plains, and reasoned that it would be very difficult and expensive to build a road around the Lake.
Close on Hans Steffen followed Carlos Wiederhold (1867 - 1935), a native of Puerto Montt who studied in Germany to become an architect before returning to Chile with the desire to do great things. Wiederhold recognized the trading potential of landlocked Patagonia east of the Andes and devised the way to unlock it. There were no roads, railways and ports to serve the land East of the Andes with links to Buenos Aires or to an Atlantic seaport. Wiederhold established himself as an import-export trader in Puerto Montt and undertook the Homeric task of putting steamships on both the Todos los Santos and the Nahuel Huapi so as to be able to reliably transport merchandises in both ways. A steamer on the Llanquihue existed already before to serve the farms established around that lake. Wiederhold then put a steamer, the "Tronador", on the Todos los Santos. The picture shows the "Tronador" moored in Peulla in the early 1900s as one can judge by the ladies' fashion.
Wiederhold's most remarkable deed was to put a steamer on the Nahuel Huapi. His steamer for the Nahuel Huapi was built in Valdivia, transported by ship to Puerto Montt, over land to Puerto Varas, by ship from Puerto Varas to Ensenada, over land from Ensenada to Petrohue, by ship from Petrohue to Peulla, and again over land via the Raulies pass to the west end of the Nahuel Huapi, were the 80 ton steamship was assembled and put into service with the name "Condor" (picture on the right). The most difficult part in the steamer odyssey was the transport of the steam engine boiler, a big piece of iron-age technology that could not safely be disassembled and assembled again. The boiler was pulled over the lakes floating in the water, while over the mountains it was pulled by many pairs of oxen. Wiederhold established a trading post on the Nahuel Huapi and was the de facto founder of Bariloche; the Argentine Government followed in 1906 with an official foundation. In this way, Eastern Patagonia's products: skins and wool, were exported to Europe via the Pacific port of Puerto Montt, navigating round Cape Horn, while European merchandises and supplies for Patagonian needs could be ordered through Wiederhold's shop in Bariloche. The Raulies pass gavr place to the Pérez Rosales pass, lower and less steep, connected to Puerto Blest via Laguna Fria, the cold lake, which officialdom converted into Laguna Frias. Wiederhold's corporation, the "Chile-Argentina", was successful for a number of years, until World War I put an end to its economic viability.
Steamship navigation on Lake Todos los Santos created employment and, colaterally, a market for firewood. A few people from the wider region (Chiloe, Llanquihue, Osorno) streamed in to clear little plots of not totally vertical land for a homestead. A few heads of cattle, sheep and chicken, a potato field and a vegetable garden provided the basics of subsistence. They made a little cash selling firewood worked with the axe for the steamer's needs, and providing miscellaneous services to the Chile-Argentina corporation. The picture, taken in the 1930s, shows Don Prudencio Yefi, a Lake settler, with the dead body of a puma that had become addicted to prey on domestic sheep. Some descendents of these hardy, courageous and enduring people hang on in the fifth generation, the promise of the Chilean State to give them property titles over the land cleared by their ancestors unfulfilled to this day.
In those pioneering days a young man by name Ricardo Roth, the scion of a famed palaentologist working at the La Plata Museum in Argentina, rode on horseback all the way to the Straits of Magellan to inspect the cave where the remains of a "mylodon", a giant ground sloth, had been found. On his return, Roth obtained a job with Wiederhold's Chile-Argentina trading company and was assigned to manage the Peulla station of the trans-mountain route.
Ricardo Roth invested his savings developing a farm at Puntiagudo. When the Chile-Argentina enterprise went belly-up, Roth sold his land and bought the assets of the liquidating corporation, having in mind a plan to develop tourism in this environmentally attractive region. His vision proved right on target and his flagship company "Andina del Sur" and spinoffs continue in business. Ricardo Roth was also instrumental in attracting to the Lake other significant personalities. One was Dr. Federico Reichert, a professor at Buenos Aires University, who bought land in Cayutue and was an early explorer of the Andes and the mountains in the region, including the Osorno, the Tronador and the Cerro Derrumbe. His friend Dr. Kurt Wolffhügel, a professor of veterinary medicine at Montevideo University, bought land next to Reichert in Cayutue and, as a keen observer of nature, was the author of interesting pages concerning the Lake region.
The Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park, a 253 000 hectare entity created in 1926, includes the Lake entirely, and a large part of its catchment. It must be seen as unfortunate that the entire Lake catchment was not included, thus ensuring preservation of it's water sources and putting Mascardi's trail under protection. The landscape of the upper Rio Blanco catchment on the southern flank of the Tronador is spectacular, while its timber and farming potential is modest. After 1926 it took many more years for the Park administration to become an organized bureaucracy. Chile's national parks were eventually entrusted to CONAF, the National Forestry Corporation, a semi-autonomous state agency whose task is defined as "to contribute to the country's development through conservation of the wilderness heritage and the sustainable use of the forest ecosistems". Various environmentalist organizations have lobbied, unsuccessfully so far, for the creation of separate agencies to deal, one with "conservation of the wilderness heritage" and the other with "sustainable use of forest ecosistems".
A benchmark in the history of the Lake can be placed in 1992. ENDESA, a state electricity corporation, had desired to "develop" lake Todos los Santos as a hydropower resource, that is, to create a hydropower plant fed by the Lake. Given the large storage capacity of the Lake, the hydropower development would at the same time act as a regulator for the national interconnected electric power distribution system. CONAF, tourism interests and non-governmental environmental organizations objected to this devastating use of the Lake. A Court of Appeals ruled that the Todos los Santos could not be developed as a hydropower resource because the Lake is inside a National Park and a part of it. ENDESA, meanwhile a subsidiary of a multinational corporation, turned its hydropower development sights further South, starting with the Rio Puelo river basin. Lake Todos los Santos narrowly escaped "development" but, given the outstanding flexibility of politicians when dealing with corporations endowed with deep pockets, it's fate cannot be taken for 100% granted and vigilant attention is required.
Given that the Lake is included in the National Park, it was protected from salmon farming and its contribution of nutrients, antibiotics and growth hormones to the aquatic ecosystem. However, escapee salmon from nurseries in the Petrohue river downstream of the VPRNP have infested the lake.