Marc & Doris visit De Soto
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Click here to see the 1:53 minute Movie Trailer of the Park's 22 minute film "Hernando De Soto in America"
NEW - Please view our 7 minute video of the park's Living History Program.
(Video best viewed with Microsoft Windows Media Player9.0)
(For enlargements of the pics below, click on the individual icons)
De Soto Memorial Park, located in Bradenton, Florida, chronicles Hernando De Soto’s exploration of the New World. As you enter the park, you will see a replica Spanish Camp representing the Indian village captured by De Soto for use as his first base camp. This exhibit is open from mid-December through mid-April.
From this spot you are treated to the same view of the Manatee River that this 16th Century Spaniard had. On the way to the visitor’s center, nestled in amongst the Gumbo-Limbo trees, is a large stone monument placed by the National Society of The Colonial Dames of America which commemorates the expedition and marks the beginning of the De Soto Trail.
The visitor’s center is open daily and a 21-minute film on the De Soto story is shown hourly. Hernando De Soto, born around 1500, Jerez de los Caballeros, was licensed by Spain’s Hapsburg King, Charles V, to explore the New World. Using the maps of the day he sailed from Spain to the Caribbean and began his trek in 1539. After landing on Florida’s west coast, probably near Tampa Bay, his army spent the next four years winding its way some 4,000 miles across what is now the Southeastern United States.
In a letter to magistrates in Cuba shortly after landing in “la Florida”
this is what De Soto wrote on July 9th 1539:
“They say there are many trades among the Indians, an abundance of gold and silver, and many pearls. May it please God that this may be so, for of what these (Indians)... I believe nothing but what I see, and must see. Although they know, and have it for a saying, that if they lie to me it will cost them their lives.”
De Soto and his men spent much of their time moving from village to village, walking on Indian trails, led by Indian guides and eating Indian food. The Spaniards fought countless skirmishes and four major battles. De Soto’s troops were the first Europeans to push deep into North America.
The Visitors Center has many displays of artifacts from the De Soto period. These include a full suit of armor and weapons and tools of the era. Replicas of Spanish helmets can be tried on by visitors; here is Ellie, from Fort Myers, FL, trying one on.
Beginning near the Visitors Center, the Memorial Trail takes you through a Mangrove swamp out to the Manatee River and has a wooden walkway with informational markers describing the fauna and flora of the area. There are several turnouts leading to the water and you might be fortunate enough to spot a horseshoe crab. De Soto Memorial Park is rich in both history and natural beauty.
Located on the South Shore of the Manatee River, it is 5 miles west of Bradenton on SR 64, then a short 2 miles north on 75th Street N.W. to the park entrance.
For further information, please call De Soto National Memorial at: 941.792.0458
or visit their website at: www.nps.gov/deso