Villa Epecuen is a small Argentine town 300 miles from the capital Buenos Aires, which was founded 100 years ago, in 1921, by Arturo Dalmacio Vatteone, an Argentine lawyer and politician who became a tourism entrepreneur in that area of the country.
Arturo Dalmacio Vatteone bought land in the vicinity of Lake Epecuen known for its waters with high levels of salinity, comparable to those of the Dead Sea. There he founded a spa and later the town around it that would have an average of 1500 inhabitants and that would become an important tourist attraction visited by thousands of people especially during the summer.
For decades it was a favorite destination for those who wanted to vacation or sought to alleviate some discomfort in its waters, which were believed to have healing properties. However, in 1985 a tragedy occurred.
The water from the lake began to advance on the coast of the town, first slowly but as the days passed the flood became stronger and stronger and on November 10, 1985, the town was finally underwater. The inhabitants of the town were evacuated, hundreds of people left their homes behind and moved away to settle in other places while they saw how the water little by little occupied what was once a beautiful tourist destination until it was completely submerged in the lake with its highest buildings over 20 feet deep in the water.
Some years later, the water began to recede, unveiling the old buildings, squares, and other structures of the old town. Now, you can see the ruins of what was once a thriving tourist site turned into a ghost town.
The ruins have also aroused the curiosity of tourists, scientists, journalists, and photographers who want to see with their own eyes the devastation caused by the flood and the remains of the city that have risen from the water. Even an online rock concert was held from the ruins of the city during the pandemic.
The local authorities want to use the ruins of Villa Epecuen and give them a new tourist boom, especially this year, which marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the town.
“Throughout the year we are going to do different tributes and activities related to this centenary,” said Vanesa Neubauern, the local Tourism Director.
We hope that just as their buildings did, tourism can also return to the area as planned in its foundation 100 years ago despite the abrupt and unexpected change of plans it suffered. Its history is apparently far from over.