Although his quest for treasure to enrich the Spanish empire and by extension, himself, failed, Francisco Enrique Vasquez de Coronado led one of the earliest and most remarkable European explorations of the North American interior. Coronado was born into a noble family in Salamanca, Spain in 1510. He came to the Americas at the age
of 25 as the assistant to New Spain’s first viceroy.
With the blessing of the viceroy, Coronado sent out parties that ranged from the Colorado River on the present-day border between Arizona and California to the Grand Canyon and much of what is now New Mexico. Coronado himself led a party in search of Quivira and its mythic riches that led him onto the plains of present-day Kansas.
Guided by a deceptive Indian known as “the Turk,” Coronado and his followers crossed the vast Llano Estacado. They trekked across the Texas Panhandle into what is now Kansas but found only a small village of what were probably Wichita Indians. Coronado found numerous tribes of native inhabitants, vast herds of buffalo and little else but misery. Quivira and its promise of wealth didn’t exist and his guide, the Turk met a tragic end.
Disappointed, Coronado returned home to Mexico where the viceroy branded his expedition an abject failure. Coronado managed to resume his governorship but within several years he was found guilty of numerous atrocities against the Indians committed by the men who were under his authority. He was removed form office in 1544 and moved to Mexico City to work in a modest position in the municipal government there. He died in 1554, decades before the chronicle of his expedition was finally published.
Explore Coronado's route and imagine what the plains looked like in 1541 at the Hutchinson County Historical Museum. Plan your visit.
...and his search for Quivira
Hutchinson County Historical Museum • 618 N. Main Street • Borger, TX 79007 • 806 273 0130
Tuesday - Friday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. • Saturday 1:00 to 4:30 p.m.