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Introducing Río Grande

A monster trout sculpture at the entrance to town announces that you have come to the de facto fly-fishing capital of Tierra del Fuego, with some of the world’s best blue-ribbon angling for colossal sea-run trout. But if you didn’t come with rod in hand, the longest that you will likely stay in windswept Río Grande is a few hours, before hopping on a bus to Ushuaia, 230km southwest.

As wool baron José Menéndez’ sheep stations developed, Río Grande became a growing makeshift service town. In 1893 the Salesian order, under the guidance of Monseñor Fagnano, set up a mission in an unsuccessful attempt to shelter the Selk’nam from the growing infringement.

As a petroleum service center, the town has an industrial feel: even the public art looks like giant, grim tinker toys. Geared at the business traveler, it’s also pricey for visitors. Duty-free status, meant to foster local development, has brought in electronics manufacturing plants and wholesale appliance stores.

During the Falklands War the military played an important role here; memorials pay tribute to fallen soldiers.