Francisco Vasquez de Coronado (1510-1554)

From the time of the earliest Spanish voyages to the New World, the soils of Texas have inspired a continuous flow of legends and searches for deposits of gold, silver and other treasures. Francisco Vasquez de Coronado was among the very first of this long line of fortune seekers in Texas.

Coronado was born at Salamanca, Spain in 1510. At the age of twenty-five, he sailed to the New World, and settled in Mexico City. There, he married, started a family, and was appointed in 1538 as governor of the province of Nueva Galicia.

In response to reports of riches at the fabled Seven Cities of Cibola, Coronado led an expedition into what is now the southwestern United States and northern Texas. The expedition totaling nearly one thousand men left Mexico in 1540. After months of searching, however, the expedition found no trace of treasure. Most of the party returned to Mexico the following year, but Coronado and a smaller force continued the search. They finally returned to Mexico City, with their saddlebags still empty, in the spring of 1542.

Although Coronado lost considerable credibility during the expedition, he regained his post as city councilman on his return to Mexico City, and remained in that position until his death on September 22, 1554.


Although Coronado’s expedition failed to produce gold, it marked the beginning of an endless stream of tales of lost mines and buried treasure in Texas. These legends, some documented and others passed down only by word of mouth, inspired countless searches into the sun-baked expanses of Central and West Texas.

Rather than fade with time, the legends seemed to grow with each new wave of immigrants to the new land. By the early nineteenth century, no less notable Texan than Jim Bowie tried his luck at tracking down some of these reported treasures. Still later, in the late 1850’s, when west Texas was occupied chiefly by Apache Indians, 90-100 man expeditions continued the search for buried treasures.

The Texan’s fascination with lost mines and buried treasure has not subsided even today. It became the subject of “Coronado’s Children,” one of J. Frank Dobie’s major works in the 1930s. Interestingly, numerous books about treasure hunting in Texas can be ordered today over the internet.

1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Jim Swafford

The Conquistadors 1540 to 1542 Coronado’s entrada into Texas and the Llano Estacado Francisco Vazquez de Coronado Seven Cities of Cibola Spanish Las Siete Ciudades de Cibola, legendary cities of splendors and riches.

“I reached some plains so vast, that I did not find their limits anywhere, although I traveled over them for 300 leagues, with no more landmarks than if we had been swallowed up by the sea. There was not a stone, nor a bit of rising ground, nor a tree, nor a shrub, nor anything to go by.” Coronado 1541

The questions are, where did Coronado make his entrada “entrance” into Texas? What counties did his route cross? What were the waterways he followed? Where did he camp? What are the artifacts left behind to prove Coronado slept here?

The present-day book by Richard Flint, “A History of the Coronado Entrada” is today one of the most accepted opinion writings to the exact places where Coronado entered Texas and his trek onward.  But the fact is no one knows the exact place where in entered Texas, or his route taken afterwards. There are other scholarly opinions that should not be discounted.

“Frank Bryan (1956) “asserted that Coronado turned south on the staked plains and followed Running Water Draw (starts in Parmer, County Texas) to the White River in Floyd County (Blanco Canyon campsite).

“WH Stephenson (1926) focused on the Texas portion of Coronado’s trek. “Instead, it went in a south eastly direction through what is now Parmer County and the “great ravine” – the White River or Arroyo Blanco (a branch of the Salt Fork of the Brazos)
One key artifacts of Coronado’s route is the small copper crossbow bolt head. A copper crossbow bolt head manufactured from the mines in central Mexico. 

It 1995 in Floyd County Texas Jimmy Owens while metal detecting discovered some copper crossbow bolt heads and other artifacts. This location is now designated to be a Coronado campsite based on the findings of the copper crossbow bolt head. The Blanco Canyon Coronado camp site.

I live in Parmer County and have over 40 years of metal detecting experience. I have found artifacts here which includes the copper crossbow bolt head. By scholarly standards this copper crossbow bolt head is evidence of Coronado’s route.

“WASHINGTON (AP) _ Crossbow bolt tips provided the crucial evidence linking a Texas Panhandle canyon to the lost trail of 16th-century Spanish explorer Francisco Coronado, an archaeologist said Monday.
Only the Coronado expedition in the Southwest was determined to have had crossbow bolts,″ said Donald Blakeslee, an associate professor of anthropology at Wichita State University. This is the clincher.″
Finding the campsite may bring scientists a step closer to determining exactly where Coronado went from 1540-42 in the first major Spanish exploration of what is now northern Mexico, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas.”

I have presented my artifact finds to the Dr, Donald Blakeslee, Gayle Hartmann, Richard Flint and Deni Seymore all experts on Coronado. Very nice people, but the rub is I am not an educated archaeologist with credentials. Most experts are on record in their scholarly papers and books to where Coronado made his entrance into Texas. And Parmer County is not it, even if found period artifacts suggest otherwise. I have invited them to visit Parmer County but no takers, all are very busy.

I believe my artifacts do prove Coronado passed through Parmer County and will be glad to present my artifacts to anyone willing to take up the case to rewrite the history of Texas.

Jim Bob Swafford
Submitted 10-24-2021