Christopher Columbus was an Italian navigator and explorer who sailed across the Atlantic Ocean in hopes of finding a new trade route to India in 1492. Instead he discovered various Caribbean Islands, the Gulf of Mexico and the South and Central American mainland.
ALVAR NUNEZ CABEZA DE VACA
Alonso Alvarez De Pineda was a cartographer and conquistador who in 1519 was authorized by the Spanish King to find out if there was a waterway between the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean. He sailed west from Florida towards Mexico mapping the coastline of Texas.
FRANCISCO DE VASQUEZ CORONADO
Cortez left Spain to seek his fortune in the New World in 1504. After landing in Mexico he set his sights on conquering the Aztec Empire who invited him to their royal palace where he took Montezuma hostage. By 1521 he accomplished ending the Aztec Empire.
René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle
De Vaca was treasurer to the Spanish expedition under Panfilo de Narvaez. By the time the explorers reached Galveston Texas there were only 15 alive. They spent the following years among nomadic Indian tribes, serving as slaves for their care.
Failing in his quest for gold for Spain Coronado led one of the most ambitious European explorations of the North America interior. Coronado sent out parties to the Colorado River, the Grand Canyon and New Mexico while looking for the city of Quivira into what is now Kansas.
La Salle was a French explorer who on his last mission set out for North America to establish a French colony on the Gulf of Mexico. He encountered many problems such as sunken and wrecked ships. Many of his men died during their travels. La Salle himself was killed on March 19, 1687 by a mutiny of five of his men.