Juan Ponce de Leon

 


Famous Explorers - Ponce de Leon

     Ponce de Leon is also the name of a small town in the Northwest Florida panhandle.  Some folks think the Spanish explorer, Juan Ponce de Leon, may have searched for the Fountain of Youth here.  Ponce de Leon Springs, named after Florida's discoverer, produces millions of gallons of 68-degree crystal clear water and is the centerpiece of a 443-acre state park, which features a nature trail and picnic area as well. 

 

     This rural town is also home to two other natural springs, Vortex and Morrison, which attract scuba and skin divers, swimmers, campers, and other visitors from afar.

 

  We believe that the Spanish Explorer, Juan Ponce de Leon, was born in Tierra de Campos Palencia, Spain.  As a boy he was hired to deliver messages in royal court.  He sailed with Christopher Columbus on his second voyage to the New World in 1493.

 

    He was the first European to set foot in Florida.  And he is the person who gave the state its name.   He named the state Florida (which is a Spanish work for ‘flowers’) because that what he saw when he landed in the area now know as St. Augustine, Florida on the northeast coast of our state.  Ponce de Leon claimed Florida in the name of the King of Spain.

 

     He is remembered as the conquistador who first explored many parts of Florida and searched for the mythical “Fountain of Youth.”  He organized several expeditions to find it but never did. The water from this fountain was supposed to keep those who drank from it from growing old.

There is much more to learn about this Spanish explorer.  Find him in your school library or do an on-line search of his name.