Marc & Doris visit De Soto National Memorial
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 (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.
De Soto National Memorial entrance Replica of Spanish camp Replica of Spanish camp Replica of Spanish camp
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. 
  De Soto's view of the Manatee river Gumbo-Limbo trees (Bursera simaruba) Stone monument commemorating the start 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.
Portrait of Hernando De Soto, circa 1539 Hapsburg family emblem of Charles V Old World map of the Atlantic Ptolemaic map of the Known World, circa 1493 Chart of the most probable beginning of De Soto's journey Sketch of one of De Soto's soldiers
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.
Rendition of Spaniard on horseback Armored Spanish Cavalryman, circa 1539 Sketch of native Floridians, circa 1539 Sketch of one of De Soto's encounters with local indians Picture of artifacts found at the Tatham Mound Site
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.
Inside the Memorial's Visitor Center Suit of full body armor Metal stirrups, dagger & crossbow bolts & quiver of the era Replica of a Spanish helmet Ellie tries a helmet on under Hubby's supervision
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.
Footpath leading to Nature Trail Elevated wooden walkway named Memorial Trail De Soto's Army might have landed right on this beach Horseshoe Crab View of Manatee River from behind the mangroves
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. Layout map of De Soto National Memorial

For further information, please call De Soto National Memorial at: 941.792.0458
or visit their website at:

GO TO the De Soto National Memoria's officiall website GO TO the National Park Services's official website GO TO the US Department of the Interior's Website