Today we visited Coronado National Memorial, which commemorates the first major European exploration of what’s now the American southwest. The park is about 25 miles south of Sierra Vista, AZ, where we are staying, and only about a mile north of the US/Mexican border.
In the 1500s, stories of “Seven Cities of Gold” with jewel-studded houses made their way to Spaniards in New Spain (Mexico). The stories were “verified” by a Spanish scout and later by an Indian.
In 1540, 30-year-old Francisco Vasquez de Coronado was selected to command an expedition to find the cities, claim land for King of Spain, and also act missionaries. Per some stories, over two thousand soldiers, priests, native allies, slaves and servants were in the expedition.
Coronado traveled all the way from Compostelo, Mexico (on the western coast of Mexico) to present-day Salina, Kansas before he realized there were no golden cities. Turns out the Spanish scout saw the cities from a “distance” and the Indian was fibbing in an effort to get the Spaniards away from Indian settlements. The missionary portion of the trip didn’t work out well either -- although Coronado at first tried to get along with the Native Americans, he and his men ended up killing some and running others out of their villages.
|This is the small Coronado National Memorial’s |
visitors center where we saw a good movie on Coronado
and bought a book on southwestern native plants. The
very nice visitors center volunteer was originally from