With its fine natural harbors, Manzanillo was an important seaport even before the Spanish Conquest. “Tlacotla” (which means “the place of the conch shells”) was first ruled by the Tarascans. Hernan Cortés and his followers, searching for Chinese treasure in the Pacific, were among the first visitors the area now known as Manzanillo. Legend has it that when Cortés’ ships first dropped anchor in the shallows off Manzanillo looking for safe harbors and good ship-building sites, sailors saw fairies dancing in the moonlit water.
The first Europeans settled there in 1522, and used Manzanillo (Tlacotla) as a departure point for Spanish expeditions to Baja California and Northern Mexico. The large number of hardwood trees in the area convinced Cortés to establish Latin America’s first shipyard here in the mouth of the Salagua River, now the site of a golf course. The new name Manzanillo was derived from the abundant groves of manzanilla trees that were used extensively in the early days of shipbuilding.
In 1825 the official “Port of Manzanillo” opened. As an important sea port, Manzanillo opened the first telegraph office on the Pacific coast in 1869. Manzanillo was raised to the status of a city in 1873, and by 1890 train service arrived and made coast to coast travel much more convenient. The train boosted the commercial importance of the port, as the only train/port link on the Pacific. The railroad to Colima City (the capital city) was completed in 1889. In 1908, the link to Guadalajara was completed and Manzanillo was named an official port of entry into Mexico. Manzanillo was the temporary capital of the state of Colima for one week in 1915, when Pancho Villa’s troops were threatening to capture the Colima City.
Camino a Santiago