Rucapillan: About Us

by Fundación Huilo Huilo, 25th junio 2019

Rucapillan was built in the early 70s by mister Antolín Labraña and Mrs. Margarita Olmos, pioneers in providing accommodations and food services in the former timber area of Panguipulli. Since the beginning of the 80s the Labraña Baeza family has made Rucapillan a cozy and prestigious place in the commune of Panguipulli. We have achieved the Tourist Quality Seal "Q" by Sernatur, a distinction for service providers who meet the quality standards they deserve.

History of Choshuenco

Place of the Yellow Waters (Meaning in Mapudungun)
A small locality of 1,000 inhabitants, Choshuenco was a port that exported wood harvested from the interior valleys of the region. It operated as such from the 1950s to the 1970s, with its ships routed through Lake Panguipulli.

Since its beginnings in the 1940s, wood was its primary export, as forestry was the primary industry of the entirety of the Panguipulli region. Choshuenco was populated by indigenous Mapuche people as well as colonists that came from the forests of Valdivia seeking more untouched “green gold”— wood.

One of the defining events in the history of Choshuenco occurred on January 20, 1970, when a fire destroyed a large part of the small population. This incident was caused by the burning of a local home that was adjacent to the old Hotel Rucapillan. The fire completely destroyed that family’s home and the old Hotel Rucapillan before going on to wipe out much of the rest of the town.

Choshuenco is also in close proximity to the volcano Mocho-Choshuenco, which is 2,430 meters above sea level. The last great eruption of the Mocho-Choshuenco volcano was recorded in 1864.

On Choshuenco beach, Vapor Enco lies abandoned. The boat was a major means of transport for the people of Choshuenco. It used to travel to Lake Panguipulli three times a week with a capacity of 150 people, or 15% of the population of Choshuenco.

Vapor Enco was constructed in Bremen, Germany in 1907. It was used during World War I from 1914 to 1917 and was later acquired by the Chilean company La Transandina, which operated in Lake Calaquén in the Panguipulli region. In 1940, the vessel was disarmed and transported by rail to Lake Riñihue.

The Enco was then used as a transport vessel for wood and livestock, though it was eventually purchased by the Bravo Family. In the late 1940s, Enco was acquired by Arturo Kenrhy, who decided to move the ship from Lake Riñihue to Lake Panguipulli so that it could be used to transport passengers. The transfer process was far from easy.

The transport from Lake Riñihue to Lake Chan-Chan, which was connected to Lake Panguipulli, was planned for the middle of the winter in order to take advantage of the flooding of the Enco River, a tributary of Lake Chan-Chan. Ships sailing in the Enco River could easily reach Lake Chan-Chan in a short period of time using the high waters of the flooding season— the most difficult part of the journey would be getting the Vapor Enco to the Enco River.

The ship was transferred from Lake Riñihue by land to a town called Corte de Arena. This was done by over 100 people and 70 oxen and the task took over six months! Finally, the boat was launched into the Enco River wherein it reached the port in Lake Chan-Chan in short order and began to sail for Lake Panguipulli.

During the winter of 1987, the steam-powered Vapor Enco sailed its final journey. Today, it is stranded on a corner of the Choshuenco beach, Thousands of stories surround this Panguipulli icon, and many long to see the Enco sail again in the lake. Maybe one day this piece of the past will rise to sail again and tell new generations of the experiences their ancestors had.