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Early Spanish Explorers

One of the earliest Spanish explorers to the Gulf Coast was Don Tristan de Luna y Arellano. De Luna led an ambitious expedition that intended to settle the Florida coast and establish a base of exploration and trade. Leading 1,000 plus soldiers, farmers, and families de Luna dropped anchor in Pensacola Bay in August of 1559, the present site of the Naval Air Station Pensacola. The colony had barely been established when a major hurricane destroyed all but three of de Luna’s ships. The Spanish settlers returned to Mexico after rebellions, disastrous raiding excursions and continuing starvation.

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