The first explorers

The first Europeans to enter the Indian territories of what would later be called Louisiana were the Spanish. Sailing into the Gulf of Mexico, they soon gave up their explorations when they did not yield gold. Ponce de Leon explored the western Florida coast starting in 1513, Alvarez de Pineda sailed into Pensacola and Mobile Bay in 1519, and Panfilo de Narvaez founded a village in Tampa Bay in 1528. Finally, between 1539 and 1543 Hernando de Soto reached the Mississippi River via Florida, having sailed up to where it joined the Arkansas River.
For their part, the French claimed the territories of Saint Laurence and Acadia. Some of the colonists of New France dreamed of making their way south. In 1639, Jean Nicolet discovered the Bay of the Stinking Waters west of Lake Michigan. Robert Cavelier de La Salle explored the Ohio River in 1669 and 1670, before navigating the Illinois River and the Mississippi itself. Louis Joliet and Jacques Marquette discovered the confluence of the Missouri and the Mississippi, while Duluth reached the western end of the Great Lakes in 1679.

Construction of La Salle's ship Griffon
© Public domain.  Credit : National Archives of Canada/C-001225
Source: National Archives of Canada.  Taken from the National Library of Canada web site (www.nlc-bnc.ca)

Construction of La Salle's ship Griffon
Public domain. Credit : National Archives of Canada/C-001225
Source: National Archives of Canada. Taken from the National Library of Canada web site (www.nlc-bnc.ca)

some of the first travels