A Brief History of Rocky Point,
Puerto Penasco, Mexico
Puerto Penasco is located approximately 80 miles south of the Arizona border town of Lukeville. Most Americans know Puerto Peņasco as the English translation Rocky Point. Rocky Point was the name given by the retired British lieutenant Robert Hardy of the British Royal Fleet in 1826. LT Hardy at that time was searching for precious metals along the coasts of Sonora and Baja California. The name of rocky point is representative of the geological formation of sand dunes, the rocky peninsula and mountains overlooking the Sea of Cortez. Soon after, the name began to appear on Marine maps and has stuck ever since. The Lt. documented his travel experience through mexico in his book entitled “Travels Through the Interior of Mexico 1825, 26, 27, 28.
In 1920, Rocky Point was settled by migrant fisherman, mainly used as a resting area while fishing for the diverse marine life in the Sea of Cortez. Fisherman from Guaymnas and other fishing villages in the surrounding area would take refuged in the volcanic area known as “The Pinacate” which lies 30 miles North West of Rocky Point, in the Altar Desert.
After a visit from Mexican president General Lazaro Cardenas in 1936, the president ordered several major construction projects that brought employment and a relative wealth to a once improvised area. The president of Mexico ordered that a railway be constructed to unify Baja California and the rest of the country and he ordered that a wharf be built for fishing and cargo vessels. The President also changed the name Rocky Point to Puerto Punta Peņasco (Port Rocky Point). During WW II the U.S. Government struck an agreement with Mexico to secure the port as a “joint contingency plan” for the Pacific Naval Fleet. The U.S. military built a staging dock at the port and paved a 65 mile highway from LukevilleThese major development between 1936 and 1940 contributed to the economic progress of Puerto Peņasco. The Mexican government finally recognized Puerto Peņasco as a town and appointed the towns original fisherman Estrella Bustanmante as the town’s first mayor in 1952.
As the price of shrimp and fish skyrocketed in 1965, commercial fisherman from all over Mexico poured into the Sea of Cortez off the coast of Puerto Peņasco. Prosperity abound. Between 1965 and 1980 new schools were built, roads paved, sewer line installed, electrification came to most of the city and local services were started. By the early 1980’s however, the Sea of Cortez became overfished decimating the marian wildlife and the economic backbone of Puerto Peņasco. Business closed and people left.
By the late 1980’s American tourist began to visit, developing local hotels, rv parks, bars and restaurants. Today, with the Mexican Governments “NO Hassle” campaign making it easier for U.S. and Canadian visitors to travel the northwest territory, over 300,000 tourists visit Rocky Point annually. Sandy Beach, once a beach for RVer’s, campers and college partiers is now home to world class resorts, fine restaurants, and custom homes. Local family operated authentic Mexican cuisine restaurants and sporting activities along the coast abound. Still, with all the changes that have taken place over the years, fishing is still a favorite, the local shrimp is plenty-full and the local charm of this once quant fishing village is still present. For an interesting history lesson on the development of Puerto Peņasco visit this site. http://www.orsonprattbrown.com/angela-silvestre.html.