The history of the ranch dates back almost a century. Richard Hosking Trannack emigrated from Cornwall, England to Argentina in the latter part of the 19th century, along with his wife Marie and their six children.
After a seven-year journey in nine large oxen and horse-driven carriages through 1,000 miles of hostile territory, they finally settled down in the area of Zapala, province of Neuquén. Sadly, Richard and Marie died just a few years after their arrival, so the two eldest sons, Thomas & Hughe Arturo took over the running of the Estancia.
At the time, The Southern Railway “Ferrocarril Roca” was being built and Arturo was employed as the payroll master for the Southern Railway Company, a British company in charge of building the railway line between Bahía Blanca (Province of Buenos Aires) and the town of Zapala. His job entailed riding over the Andes on horseback to Chile every three-to-six months to collect the money to pay the salaries of the railway workers. In order to avoid possible stick-ups – yes, highway robbers were around at that time – Don Arturo would choose a different route each time.
On one of his crossings, he came across a beautiful stretch of land by Lake Huechulafquen. By fortune, he was able to establish contact with owners of all that land at the time and purchase this very unique property.
Arturo and his wife lived in El Manzano year round, the original family home in Zapala, and the ranch by the lake became their summer residence. At that time there was no bridge over the Chimehuin River (the outflow of Lake Huechulaufquen) so my grandparents and their 3 children would drive to the mouth of the River Chimehuin, leave their car (a 1921 FN) undercover, and then travel the last stage of their journey on horseback, whilst farmhands would carry their luggage on ox wagons up to the farm 11 km away.
The family initially lived in tents during those summer months. Eventually, Don Arturo carefully chose the ideal spot to build the main house, where it still stands to this day. This was no easy task, as it involved cutting into the mountain to create a plateau for the construction (all carried out by ox-driven shovels). The stone used in the construction was quarried on the farm.
When Don Arturo died, his 3 properties were divided between his daughter and wife. Marie, the daughter, got the lake ranch. At that time, running the farm naturally involved considerable expenses and during her first years, she struggled hard to make ends meet.
One day a very tall, good-looking gentleman turned up at the farm whilst Marie was gardening (which was her passion) and introduced himself saying he had been admiring the property from the other side of the lake for several days.
My mother was of course rather taken by surprise and remarked that she had no idea who he was. With a mischievous smile, this stranger remarked that he often saw her working in the garden with her bottom up – as most gardeners do – and with this introduction, my Mum burst out laughing; that was the beginning of a lifetime friendship.
This gentleman went on to explain that he had been hunting for many seasons in Collunco (a ranch across the lake) and he would often focus his telescope on our garden where every now and then he would see a lady busily tending to her flowers.
He was a very keen red stag hunter and over a cup of tea and homemade scones, he offered to acquire the hunting rights of the ranch. For 17 years he and his family and friends showed up every March for the Stag Rut. Finally, he purchased his own property in the nearby Aluminé region. Marie and her husband looked forward to the hunting season as they thoroughly enjoyed hosting the hunters and sharing anecdotes, jokes, drinks, and plenty of laughter. A fun time of the year!
Marie, a legendary lady in Patagonia passed away some years ago. Now, Marisa (4th generation) and Chris (her husband) have taken over the running of this very special place where they continue the loving family legacy on the property.