Chanco was founded on 1889 in an old settlement populated by the indigenous people known aspromaucaes. Chanco had begun as a seaside settlement. However, in the 19th century the coastal dunes advanced eastward and buried the old village and the surrounding crops. At the beginning of the 20th century, thanks to the efforts of the German botanist and naturalistFederico Albert the town was saved from being buried again, when Albert started a large-scale project by planting an extense forest west to Chanco and relocating the town eastwards. The forest would be declared a national reserve in 1979 and today it constitutes a frequented touristic attraction in the province of Cauquenes.