Hernando de Soto was not a very nice man. He brought over 700 men and two women over from Cuba to find gold in America. He was the ultimate entrepreneur, financing his operation himself and doing all the planning.
In 1539, he landed somewhere in Tampa Bay on the west coast of Florida. He went on a 4,000 mile trek, enslaving native Americans and killing them off when they didn’t cooperate. He died a couple of years later and his men buried him in the Mississippi River. So that’s the story in a nutshell.
But de Soto gets his own National Park memorial which I had to visit. There is nothing on the site left from de Soto’s landing. It was centuries ago. But the Park Service did a great job of interpreting the meaning of de Soto’s expedition.
There’s a film and a living history area where volunteers show visitors the tools and clothes of the day. So Lenny tried on the chain maille, gauntlet (the metal gloves) and metal helmet. See above.
The site has several thatched huts, known as chickee which means house in Seminole with displays inside.
As usual, when I visit these National Park sites, the hardest information to get is how it all became a national park. The Colonial Dames of America organized to recognize this site but putting a commemorative stone on an Indian burial mound in 1939. It became a NPS site in 1948.