The History of Hernando DeSoto in Alabama
Horace Holt has spent many years traveling and
researching the explorations of the Spanish Adventurer, Hernando DeSoto. This fascinating
hobby has taken Holt to many of the areas visited by DeSoto and his journeys as they
relate to North Alabama.
DeSoto had heard rumors of gold to be found in the hills and
valleys of Lookout Mountain. His thirst for gold finally won and he sent a small group of
men, under the leadership of two of his lieutenants, named Silva and Vilabo, on a side
trip exploration into Lookout Mountain.
So it was in 1540 that these men made
their way up Lookout Mountain somewhere between the present towns of
Blanche, Alabama and Menlo, Georgia and eventually making their way to DeSoto Falls near
the present town of Mentone, Alabama. They camped at
DeSoto Falls at least two days, and perhaps longer, and searched the area for gold and
Falls this small group of brave men went west across Big Wills Valley near the present town of Henagar, Alabama. From Henagar they followed the
east side of what is now called South Sauty Creek through the area of Sylvania and arrived
at what is now known as the Point Rock area of Bucks Pocket State Park. They arrived
at this place on July 9, 1540, the same day DeSoto and the main body of his expedition
reached Coste in present day St. Clair County.
Silva and Vilabo, and their small group of
companions must have reacted in a special way to the beauty of the scene as they stood at
this scenic vista on Point Rock and looked into the mighty canyon below. DeSotos
historian makes a note of their experience by saying "They came to this place and
found no gold, an area of lofty hills and stupendous rocks". The yellow substance,
thought to be gold, is iron oxide and is found in abundance in the high cliffs of
Bucks Pocket State Park.
There is no historical evidence that any one in DeSotos expedition ever went further west in north Alabama than the vista overlook
at Bucks State Park, or that any of them ever caught a view of the mighty Tennessee