It’s time for another history lesson of a little known landing excluded from school book shelves… so pay attention! Juan Ponce de Leon was born in San Servas, Spain in 1460. He had served in the Spanish Army and had accompanied Christopher Columbus on his second voyage in 1491. He was appointed Governor of Haiti in 1511 and Governor of Puerto Rico in 1512.
Our history books best note the explorer for the following: On April 3rd 1513 he planted a Spanish flag in what is now known as St. Augustine and called the new land La Florida. On May 5th 1513 he sailed through the Florida Keys calling them Los Martires. That Sunday he collected firewood and filled the ships casks with water from the well on Achecombie (Lower Matecumbe). He stopped at Metanca (Indian Key) on his way back to Puerto Rico. In 1521 during his second voyage he was shot by an arrow and returned to Cuba where he died from his wounds. (His voyage route is shown below)
Wow, to think that only 32 days after founding Florida for Spain in 1513 that Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon landed right here at the stone markers site and set foot in the Keys at Islamorada is just unbelievable! You too can see this historic site at Mile Marker 78.5 on US-1 oceanside. Walk on the same exact land as Ponce de Leon did… go ahead, I’ve already done it and “Man it felt AWESOME!” What a thrill!