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Coronado departs Culiacán in search of Seven Cities of Cíbola


On this day in 1540, an expedition led by Spanish explorer Francisco Vázquez de Coronado left Culiacán in Mexico in search of the Seven Cities of Cíbola, concerning which wondrous tales had been brought to Mexico by Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca. There was no gold at Cíbola (the Zuñi villages in western New Mexico), but the explorer was led on by stories of great rewards to be found in Quivira, a region on the Great Plains far to the east. Chasing this chimera occupied Coronado until the early part of 1542; along the way he apparently marched across the Llano Estacado of eastern New Mexico and the Texas Panhandle, passing through present Palo Duro Canyon. When he returned to Mexico he was subjected to an official examination of his conduct as leader of the expedition and as governor of Nueva Galicia. He was cleared of charges in connection with the expedition, but on some of the other charges was fined and lost his commission. He died in 1554.

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