1884: The Inauguration of an Inspirational Lighthouse

May 25, 1884

The San Juan de Salvamento Lighthouse made its debut on Isla de los Estados, a remote island within Argentina’s section of the archipelago Tierra del Fuego. Isla de los Estados is located 18 miles (29 kilometers) off the easternmost point of that archipelago’s main island of Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego. The San Juan de Salvamento Lighthouse has the distinction of being Argentina’s first lighthouse. It was officially inaugurated by Augusto Lasserre (1826-1906), the commander of the Argentine Army.

The San Juan de Salvamento Lighthouse was built to help guide sailors making their way through those often stormy and inhospitable waters just below the southernmost tip of South America’s mainland. (The above photo of the lighthouse was taken in 1898.) After strong winds in the region inevitably threatened the overall stability of the lighthouse, however, it was moved from that island to Isla Grande Tierra del Fuego in 1902.

Just a few years later, however, San Juan de Salvamento Lighthouse achieved yet another claim to fame thanks to renowned French novelist Jules Verne (1828-1905). This structure’s time on Isla de los Estados and its comparatively far-flung location there served as Verne’s inspiration for his work The Lighthouse at the End of the World. Verne wrote the initial draft for this adventure novel in 1901, and it was first published not long after his death. (Quite a few people, though, have mistakenly credited Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse – another navigational aid within the Argentine portion of Tierra del Fuego – as Verne’s muse for The Lighthouse at the End of the World.)

The San Juan de Salvamento Lighthouse steadily deteriorated over the years. The remains and other artifacts of the lighthouse, along with a near-replica of the structure that was completed in 1997, are now housed at the maritime museum in the resort town of Ushuaia on Isla Grande Tierra del Fuego.

Photo Credit: Public Domain

For more information on the San Juan de Salvamento Lighthouse, please check out https://museomaritimo.com/en/faro-fin-del-mundo-eng

Additional information on Argentina’s lighthouses within Tierra del Fuego is available at https://www.ibiblio.org/lighthouse/argtf.htm

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