It was the port of the district inhabited by people of the "pehuen", araucarias, as the whole Neuquén Province. The tree's fruit is called "pehuen" too and it is presently part of the provincial emblem.
The territory was under indigenous domain until the Desert Campaign's end.
When cacique's Ñancucheo tribes were defeated, the government built a fort in the Vega Maipú Valley, and in 1898 it moved to its present location.
The first inhabitants belonged to the Army, and they administrated the area till 1907.
The whole area depended economically on wood and on the border traffic with Chile; so the Development Commission was created, the Compañía Trasandina General San Martín, the Post Office and the Peace Tribunal were created too.
In 1933 the Customs was installed and it caused its effect on the economy that mainly based its development on the trade with Chile.
In 1937 Lanin National Park was created and in 1946 the ski slope on Chapelco Hill was designed. All these things contributed to the town's economic growth.