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Spanish explorer names the Nueces


On this day in 1689, Spanish explorer and governor Alonso De León, marching from Coahuila in response to news of a French settlement in Texas, crossed a river in what is now Dimmit or Zavala County which he named Río de las Nueces ("River of Nuts") for the pecan trees growing along its banks. The Nueces River, although not explored in its entirety until the eighteenth century, was the first Texas river to be given a prominent place on European maps. It is identifiable as the Río Escondido ("Hidden River"), which first appeared on a 1527 map attributed to Diogo Ribeiro, signifying the obscure location of the river mouth behind its barrier island. It was to this river that René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle--confused by the period's inadequate maps--sailed in 1685, believing that it was the Mississippi. De León discovered the remains of La Salle's Fort St. Louis on Garcitas Creek eighteen days after crossing the Nueces.

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