TAVARES — The Lake County Historical Museum, located at 317 W. Main St. in Tavares, recently introduced a new exhibit in Gallery IV titled "Spanish Pathways Through Florida."
The exhibit will be open until the end of September and includes a host of information and artifacts about Hernando De Soto's expedition for gold that originated from Charlotte Harbor, Fla., in 1539.
"Most people don't realize the Spanish marched through Lake County on their way northward," said Dr. Diane Kamp, Director of Lake County Museums. "When you think of them marching and riding horseback through Lake County in the middle of summer with all the bugs and the heat, that's pretty dramatic."
De Soto landed in Charlotte Harbor with six ships of more than 600 men and 200 horses. The conquistador's expedition through the Southeast lasted until May 21, 1542, when he died of fever near the Mississippi River in Arkansas. Along the way, the expedition endured rough terrain, harsh weather conditions and many native ambushes and conflicts.
"The expedition had some camps in Lake County because the land was so lush and the natives had a variety of crops available," Kamp said. "Food was important because the expedition included more than 600 men. Berries and nuts found along the way definitely would not suffice such a large contingency."
The museum, which features free admission, is open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays. There is always something new to see and do at the Lake County Historical Museum. For more information about the museum or to schedule a tour, call (352) 343-9600.