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Llanos-Cárdenas expedition begins mapping Matagorda Bay

October
24
1690

On this day in 1690, the ship Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación anchored off Cavallo Pass, the natural entrance to Matagorda Bay, and its crew began mapping the bay. The ship was under the command of Francisco de Llanos, and the mapmaking was assigned to the engineer Manuel José de Cárdenas y Magaña. The expedition had left Veracruz on October 12. Its mission was to evaluate the environs of the defunct French Fort St. Louis as a site for a Spanish presidio, to seek a water route to the new San Francisco de los Tejas Mission, and to map Espíritu Santo (i.e., Matagorda ) Bay. The expedition determined that neither the Lavaca River nor the Colorado afforded a water route to the mission. The reconnaissance map--one of a series of Spanish cartographic representations of the Texas coast--gave twentieth-century historian Herbert E. Bolton reason to place the site of Fort St. Louis on Garcitas Creek in Victoria County.

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