Alabama Department of Archives and History
Hernando de Soto
Hernando de Soto (ca. 1496-1542) was a Spanish conquistador who explored the southeastern United States for Spain. He was
appointed governor of Cuba in 1537 and led Spain's first exploration of the interior of present-day Alabama in 1540 as he
searched for El Dorado, a mythical city of gold. DeSoto Caverns in Childersberg and DeSoto State Park outside Fort Payne are
named for him.