History of Manzanillo

Manzanillo Bay, Manzanillo, MexicoHERNAN CORTES and his minions, in search of Chinese treasure in the Pacific, were among the first to visit the area now known as Manzanillo. In 1522, Gonzalo de Sandoval, under orders from Cortes, dropped anchor in the Bay of Salagua (north of Manzanillo Bay), looking for safe harbors and good shipbuilding sites. In the year before he left, Sandoval granted an audience to local Indian chieftains in a small cove, which today carries the name Playa de La Audiencia. A great part of his fleet, which left to conquer the Philippines, was constructed in Salagua.

MANZANILLO BAY was discovered in 1527 by navigator Alvaro de Saavedra, naming it
Santiago de la Buena Esperanza, or Santiago's Bay of Good Hope. It became a departure point for important expeditions. Cortes visited the bay twice to protect his galleons from Portuguese pirates. Over the next 300 years, the Pacific Coast’s history is filled with accounts of pirates from Portugal, England, France and even Spain assaulting, looting and burning ships for their rich cargos.

IN 1825 the port of Manzanillo opened, so named because of the abundant groves of manzanillo trees that were used extensively in the early days of shipbuilding. It was raised to the status of a city on June 15, 1873. The railroad to Colima was completed in 1889, after budgeting for this necessity to expand the country, and other amenities, such as electricity and potable water soon followed. In 1908, President Porfirio Dias inaugurated the railway linkage with Guadalajara, and designated Manzanillo as an official port of entry. It was the state capital from February 20 to March 1, 1915, while Pancho Villa’s troops were threatening to capture the city of Colima.

Port of Manzanillo, Mexico c.1925
IN RECENT TIMES, after the government took infrastructure into account and made budgeting for commerce a priority, the harbor was modernized and deepened, allowing access to all major shipping lines around the world.

As the largest port in Mexico, it can admit ships of more than 30,000 tons. The federal government has built a coal-fueled power generating plant, which supplies electricity to a 5-state area (although the city of Manzanillo has its own separate power plant.)

The movie "10", filmed in tropical Manzanillo, MexicoMANZANILLO HAS BEEN TOUTED as the "Sailfish Capital of the World," made famous by the fishing tournaments held in November and February, with prizes worth thousands of dollars. Then in the early ‘80s, Bo Derek and Dudley Moore starred in the popular movie "10" , filmed at Las Hadas resort and La Audiencia beach. Other movies done at or near Manzanillo include the made-for-TV mini-series, "Return to Eden," the remake of "McHale’s Navy," and "I Still Know," (the sequel to "I Know What You Did Last Summer.")  released in 1999.

"History of Manzanillo" is an excerpt from the tourist guide,
"Manzanillo and Colima, Facts, Tips and Day Trips" by Susan Dearing.

Historical photos from the archives of Victor Hugo Gonzalez Rosas