Today collections preserved by the museum of the Yagan brings a
precious and moving testimony. In 1882, a ship of the French
navy, The Romanche, effectuated a multi-discipline scientific mission
in the parts by cape Horn for the occasion of the first international
polar Year. After the installation of an establishment in the
Orange bay, near cape Horn, The Romanche explored the islands and the
canals during the course of nine voyages. Complementing the
hydro-graphical measuring work during a year, the scholars studied the
Yagan for which they made friendly reports. The doctor Hyades,
doctor of the mission, noted «they did not request or tobacco or
alcohol, things of which they appeared to be unaware of the
existence». Martial, the commander of the expedition,
describes them thus: «It is difficult to find a sadder specimen
of the human race than the one than we have under the eyes
». Darwin had noted: «It is a pain to believe
that these are human creatures that live the same world as us. »
Nevertheless, until the arrival of the Europeans, this nomad probably
always hunted more to the south, survived, in a hostile environment,
with courage and intelligence.
Two of the officers of The Romanche, Payen and Doze, took during the
trip, three hundred twenty-three photographs, for the essential one, to
the national Museum of natural history and to the Museum de
l'Homme. This are on veneer glass, silver gelatin emulsions, of
format 13x18 that, after a century, remain of good quality. One Hundred
and fifty of their best photos are reproduced here. Besides the
narrative of the trip of The Romanche and a sad one to remember about a
group of exposed Fuégiens, is a book by Anne Chapman that
furnishes an interesting contribution which during the course of
several stays on Navarino island, between 1985 and 1991, collected the
memories of three very elderly women, the last surviving yagan people
Santiago, Chile History of the samplings
In July 1882, an international scientific expedition established its base on
Orange Bay of Hoste Island, the most southern island of Chilean part
of Tierra del Fuego.
The main purpose of this expedition, which stayed nearly one year on the Island, was to observe a complete
solar eclipse and passage of Venus, which occurred in December 1882.
Not only astronomers were present, but also anthropologists,
botanists, geologists, etc. which composed a team of about fifty
scientists from the United Kingdom, U.S.A., Brazil and mainly France.
Among the various activities of the team, one French naturalist, Dr
Hyades, made 107 samplings of freshwater and marine sediments. Among
them, only ten were well preserved regarding the biological material
as they were fixed with osmic acid instead of alcohol and/or phenolic
acid used for the others. These ten samples were later transmitted for
study to various French specialists of botanical (algae) and
zoological groups and more particularly to A. Certes, a well known
protistologist. From this material, Certes (1889) described several
new Protozoa, and, as said, two new nematodes.
A difficult expedition by the senior author to the type locality of
both Certes' species (Hoste Island, Tierra del Fuego, Chile) permitted
sampling of a species of criconematid of which the females fit the
original description and illustration of Criconelna giardi (Certes,
The senior author was fortunate enough to realize this in January
1983, exactly hundred years after the first expedition. Through the
kind cooperation of the University of Chile, SAG Servicio Agricultura y
Ganadero, and the Armada de Chile a voyage on the "Castor", a naval
supply vessel, was made from Puerto Williams to Orange Bay, Hoste
Island. After three nights and part of four days, arrival at Orange
Bay was accomplished at 15.00 hours January 19 but high winds
prevented disembarking until 09.00 hours January 20. During three
hours of collecting, three sites were visited within one kilometer of
each other, all with fresh water streams and moist soil.
SUMMARY A critical review of the publication in which Certes (1889)
successively described Dorylaimus giardi and Eubos-trichus guernei
demonstrates that the latter species (now the type species of the
genus Criconelna Hofmanner & Menzel, 1914) has been described on
juvenile forms pertaining to two different species.
Many taxonomists working on
criconematid nematodes thought and dreamed of the possibility to
sample again on Hoste Island. But this Island is very remote and only
accessible by warships using small landing boats for the last phase
(the 1882 - 1883 expedition was under the control of the commander of
the French warship "Romanche").
Redescription of Criconema giardi
The annules are said to present "pointed out and pointed in angles
provided with spines"; this can be interpreted as annules bearing more
or less triangular shaped scales provided with one terminal spine;
these spines are reported as "forming along the body six parallel
rows". This point merits special attention: if we take this statement
literally, we are obliged to consider this species as unique among all
the Criconematinae as no other species presents such a low number of
rows of scales and/or spines in adult females or juveniles.
Our regular contributor Pedro SAPUNAR P., who occupied the office of
Chief Engineer of the Dredges and Machinery Department, Directorate of
Port Works of Chile, has sent us a note related to the world’s first
submarine rounding of Cape Horn, by the old O'BRIEN.
The story is as follows:
"On the 18th of March 1931 the Manoeuvres Squadron (then the name the
Navy’s Active Squadron) set sail from Puerto Montt towards the south of
the country to go through an instruction program in the Southern
The Manoeuvres Squadron, under the command of Rear Admiral Alejandro
GARCIA CASTELBLANCO, was on this occasion made up of the Submarine
Mothership ARAUCANO, (flagship), the destroyers VIDELA, HYATT,
RIQUELME, and ALDEA, and the submarine O'BRIEN, all new units launched
in English shipyards between 1929 and 1930.
On the 27th of March the Manoeuvres Squadron anchored in Punta Arenas
and four days later sailed from this port towards the Beagle Channel
and Cape Horn. Stops were made in: Bahía Gente Grande, (Tierra
del Fuego island), where it stayed until the 2nd of April; Bahía
Sholl, (now Bahía Morris); Magdalena Channel; Puerto Burnt; and
later, sailing through the Beagle Channel to Bahía Romanche
where the naval formation anchored on the 4th of April.
On the 6th of April at 04:00 hours the Manoeuvres Squadron sailed from
Bahía Goree for Cape Horn, which was sighted at 07:45 hours. The
submarine O'BRIEN, under the command of Lieutenant Commander Gustavo
SILVA, submerged at 08:20 hours and at 09:00 surfaced, having rounded
Cape Horn. They later continued on to anchor the same day in
Bahía Orange at 17:20 hours. Thus a world record was notched up
for the Chilean Submarine Branch: the first rounding of Cape Horn in
the history of navigation by a submerged vessel".
He was born in the city of Lenton, Nottingham, (England) in the year 1842.
Died in the city of Buenos Aires July 15, 1898, to the 56 years of age.
The mission was Anglican in Land of the Fire
In 1856 G. P. Despard and their adopted son Thomas
Bridges (13 years) arrive at the Island Keppel (Falklands). Begin
the regular trips to the channel of Beagle.
In 1857 the missionaries carry the first yahganes to Keppel. Thomas
Bridges studies its language. The mister Despard does the first
list of words yahganes.
In 1863 in the trip of Pardon Thomas Bridges speaks the natives in its own tongue, and desire its confidence.
In 28 of May from 1871 the Reverend Bridges performs the first baptism
in the Island: the son of the gentlemen Lewis, born in the Falklands,
with the name of Frank Ooshooia Lewis.
September 30, 1871 arrive at Ushuaia in the Allen Gardiner the
Rvdo. Thomas Bridges, its wife Mary Ann Varder and its daughter
Mary, of nine months. They are the first white that are
established finally in the Land of the Fire.
November 6, 1871 the first marriage in the Land of the Fire is carried
out, among the Indian Cooshirijiz and Wepoilikeepa. The religious
ceremony is conducted for the Rvdo. Bridges.
In 18 of June of 1872 is born the first white boy in the Land of the
Fire, Thomas Despard Bridges. In this epoch there was only 7
white inhabitants, and no doctor.
April 23, 1879 is born Bertha M. Bridges (of Reynolds), first
born white woman in the Land of the Fire. Died April 13, 1968.
In 1880 the missionaries count since this year with the whaling one
Leelom in Ushuaia, with the one that Thomas Bridges explores all the
channels fueguinos. First rowboat established in the zone.
In 1882 the Southern Expedition is carried out Argentina. The
Lieutenant Giacomo Bove, the Good Captain Stone and the Doctors Decio
Vinciguerra, Carlos Spegazzini and Sunday Lovisato, pass February and
March in the Island of the States (Ovens Tip ship) doing studies.
From March to May study the channels fueguinos with Thomas Bridges in
the San José, wreck in the bay Slogget, and rescues them the
Among 1882-1883 the Scientific Mission at the end of Ovens is
performed. The captain Luis Martial (francés),a embroider
of the ship Romanche and with a numerous team of scientists, passes a
year in the Bay Orange, studies the natives and observes the traffic of
Venus, December 6, 1882. First climatic registrations, etc.
The Captain Martial baptizes to the islands set against Ushuaia with
the names of the Flia. Bridges.
The June of 1884 Thomas Bridges raises a census of the yahganes; 273
men, 314 women and 413 children. Total: 1000 persons.
In 1885 is built the first school in Land of Fire, in the Mission anglicana.
In 1886 a new census is performed by Thomas Bridges: 397 yahganes in
all the archipelago (among October and December of 1884 there had been
a great epidemic of measles, by which die the half of the
yahganes). New epidemics of escrópula, pneumonia and
September 29, 1886 Thomas Bridges leaves the Mission and Argentine
citizen is done. The President Rock, in name of the Government
and in gratitude by his multiple works with the natives and
shipwrecked, presents him with lands. Bridges chooses Harberton,
and thus the first stay in the archipelago is founded fueguino.
In 1887 Thomas Bridges and children open a path since the stay Harberton to Ushuaia, the first one by the coast.
Contributions to the region
The Rvdo. Bridges and its family are the first stable group of residents of Land of the Fire.
Bridges learned the tongue of the natives and could relate to them
peacefully, helping thus to the establishment of other white families
in the archipelago.
Educated to the Indians. Religious and secular education offered them before baptizing them.
Created schools, shops, estates, labor lands and an asylum.
Bequeathed a dictionary of Yahgán English, of some 32.000 words,
that with the vocabulary Ona of the Salesian Father José
Beauvoir, constitute contribute them more ponderables to the study of
the linguistic regional one.
Traveled through the channels fueguinos, being then a great
collaborator with the scientific expeditions that went to that zone.
- Belza, Juan “In the Island of the Fire”, buenos aires, Editorial
Historic Institute of Investigations of Land of the Fire, 1974.
- Braun Menéndez, Assembling, “Mr. Thomas Bridges”, -illustrious
Gallery of men of the Patagonia-, in Magazine Argentina Southern, year
I SAW, N° 63, buenos aires, 1934
- Bridges, Esteban Lucas, “The last confine of the land”, buenos aires, Editorial Emecé, 1952.
- Bridges, Thomas, “The bordering south of the Republic –The Land of
the Fire and its inhabitants”, in Bulletin of the Geographical
Institute Argentine, I Take VII, buenos aires, 1886.
- Bridges, Thomas, “The Land of the Fire and its inhabitants”, in
Bulletin of the Geographical Institute Argentine, I Take XIV, buenos
- Fitte, Ernesto J., “The first protestant missionaries in the region
magallánica”, in Bulletin of the National Academy of the
History, buenos aires, 1964.
- Godoy Manríquez, Carlos Jorge (Director), “The Great Book of the Patagonia”, buenos aires, Editorial Planet, 1997.
- Prosser Goodall, Scrapes Natalie, “Land of the Fire”, Bs. Ace. -Ushuaia, Editorial Shanamaiim, 1979.
- Pamphlet: “Miscellany of the End of the World”, buenos aires, Municipal Direction of Tourism of Ushuaia, 1992.
 Juan E. Belza, in its work “In the Island of the Fire”, says
that Frank O. Lewis was the first boy born in the Island.
A google search turned up the following about the large Romanche glacier on the Beagle Channel named after the Romanche expedition:
Sarah headed westward into Franklins Channel, the weather became
unusually sunny, save for a horrific black squall which drenched the
boat. In the near distance could be seen the snow capped peaks of Isla
Wollaston. We struck south to Isla Hornos, greeted almost immediately
by a gusty 4-5 meter swell, which apparently means a calm day in these
parts! It is not unknown here for 100 knot gusts called "williwaws" to
blast out of nowhere, surprising sails and sailors alike. Before long
the distinctive peak of the Cape headland could be made out, appearing
as a flared exclamation mark for an incredible continent (the inhabited
world even) with the full stop being a pile of rocks caught in a fury
of wild surf. It seems almost inconceivable to think that until the
last end of the last glacial maximum (ice-age) one could walk without
interruption of water all the way to the Cape of Good Hope in Southern
Africa. The inspiration behind this whole trip ! Even, considering that
the vastness of the Antarctic lies several hundred km further south,
there is no point further south which can be considered habitable even
if one includes the bleak selection of sub-antarctic islands !
We passed a few dangerous rocks, no doubt the cause of many historical
shipwrecks, almost camouflaged by the chaotic pattern of the wild surf.
Being on watch, steered clear of one of these piles. Then we passed the
furthest south I had yet been at Latitude South 55°59´01″ .
Ceremoniously, I fed a bottle of champers off into the Drake Passage
with a length of rope and we all toasted the occasion. Henks' and
Jacqueline's stories of the Drake Crossing seemed almost unbelievable,
with horizons of furious surf swamping the boat on bad occasions.
Broken masts on inferior vessels almost sounded like queer periscope
A small lighthouse could be seen lower down on the impressive slope of
horn, now disused. A superbly dramatic outlook. To the south lay 600
miles of the most continuously violent seas on the planet, the Drake
Passage, next landfall the icy shores of the Graham Land on the
Antarctic Peninsula. We moved into the lee of the horn to a small
sheltered cove. A wooden staircase and funicular rail for freight lead
up to the small naval station, manned by a young Chilean couple (the
NCO was only 19 or so !) who had been posted there only two weeks ago.
Their cosy little house was very warm, almost excessively so.
Apparently a re-supply vessel passed by every eight weeks. We signed
the logbook, had our passports stamped and the small group of us
visited a few local attractions. The small log chapel, the southernmost
place of worship outside Antarctica was very peaceful, ended abruptly
as a violent squall passed by. The lighthouse was very dilapidated with
the hinges of the door completely rusted off and wedged in place by the
remnants of a bolt. A boardwalk led across the tussock clumps to the
rusting monument. Areas nearby were sealed off by barbed wire fences,
apparently enclosing land-mines to inhibit an Argentine invasion !
Sunday 31st December 2000 to SENO PIA Day 35
Last day of the millenium in a sense. Weather, pretty cool today and
overcast. We followed the channel, passing several suspended turquoise
glaciers rolling off the Cordillera Darwin ice-sheet, all with
attractive falls of meltwater emanating from them. The glaciers had
some resounding names; Ventisquero Holanda, Romanche.