The Port of Talcahuano lies on a peninsula on southwestern Concepcion Bay not far from the city of Concepcion in Chile. Today, it’s an important port and the country’s main naval station. The Port of Talcahuano is also an important manufacturing, commercial, and fishing center for Chile. The harbor holds the Huascar, a Peruvian ironclad that Chile captured in 1879 during the War of the Pacific. In 2002, over 161 thousand people lived in the Port of Talcahuano.
When Captain Juan Bautista Pastene discovered the mouth of the river of Bio-Bio in 1544, he wrote about Talcahuano. Antonio Guill y Gonzaga declared the Port of Talcahuano an official port in 1764.
The Port of Talcahuano was named for Talcahuenu, an Araucanian chief who lived there when the Spanish arrived. In the language of the indigenous Mapuches, it means “Thundering Sky.”
American whalers were familiar with the Port of Talcahuano in the 19th Century, as it was a favorite stopping point for food, fresh water, and entertainment for their crews.
The port was legalized by Guill y Gonzaga by decree in 1764, making the port of registry for Chile’s interior and the most important port for ships travelling the Strait of Magellan. Located at what is known today as “Acanale la Nariz,” several precarious wharves were built that year. The new wharves brought increasing ocean-going traffic to the port.
In 1915, construction began on the modern Port of Talcahuano. By 1968, demand brought expansion of the port. A new terminal and docks were completed in 1973. By the early 1970s, new wharves were constructed in the neighboring San Vicente Bay, as space in the Port of Talcahuano was limited. The new wharves were completed in 1974.