Fray Bentos, capital city of the Department of Río Negro (2004 population 23,125) in western Uruguay, founded as Independencia on the banks of the Uruguay River in 1859. In 1861 the name was changed in honor of a hermit who had lived on that site during the eighteenth century. In 1859 Jorge Gilbert built a meat-packing plant, the first in Uruguay to can beef following the procedure invented by Julius Liebig in Germany. The plant does not operate any longer; today, hides and wool are the department's main exports. The international Puerto Urzué bridge, constructed in 1969, links Fray Bentos to Gualeguaychú, Argentina. Recent construction of a large cellulose factory on the Uruguay River, however, has generated conflict between the two countries.
Arbuet Vignali, Heber, Luis Barrios, and Héctor Babace. Chimeneas en Fray Bentos: De un ámbito local a una proyección globalizada. Montevideo: Arca, 2006.
Silva, Emilio. Departamento de Río Negro. Montevideo: Editorial Fin de Siglo, 1998.
CÉsar N. Caviedes