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Hernando de Soto was one of the earliest European explorers of North America. He led his men on a five-year, 4,000 mile trek from Florida, across the southeast and into what is now Arkansas. They were the first Europeans to see the Mississippi above its mouth. While the expedition was in one sense a failure, de Soto himself died and the expedition failed to find the treasure they sought, they succeeded in learning more about the interior of the North American continent than any Europeans before them.

The De Soto National Memorial in Florida commemorates the place where de Soto and his men first landed, on the southern edge of Tampa Bay. Attractions include Camp Uzita, where historical re-enactors show the way de Soto and his men lived, De Soto Point Beach, and a nature walk through an unspoiled mangrove swamp. Historical artifacts from the expedition are on display in the museum.

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