Hispanic Division: Back to Portuguese Role in Exploring and Mapping the New World
Cabrilho's Discovery of CaliforniaPortuguese were also involved in the exploration of the west coast of North America. In 1542-43, Portuguese-born João Rodrigues Cabrilho and his chief pilot Bartolomé Ferrelo, who may have been Portuguese, were the first Europeans to explore the coast of the present state of California. Sailing for Spain, Cabrilho left in June of 1542 from Navidad on the west coast of Mexico and proceeded north. He reached San Diego Bay in September, becoming the first European to set foot in what is today the state of California. He continued north along the California coast but died in January 1543 from an infection resulting from a broken arm. Ferrelo, his pilot, continued north, possibly reaching the Oregon coast in March 1543.
Cabrilho's and Ferrelo's voyages are indicated by light reddish brown and light blue on this reconstructed map compiled by the nineteenth-century German historical geographer Johann Georg
Kohl. A student of America's discovery and exploration, Kohl prepared this map, as well as similar maps of the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, as a graphic device for summarizing and visualizing the area covered by the various explorers. The extent of each explorer's travels is indicated in a different color.
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Cabrilho's Discovery of California