Hernando DeSoto and the Spanish in the Toe River Valley
Picture and map of DeSoto DeSoto was the first European to see the Appalachian Mountains.DeSoto and the Spanish were the first Europeans to visit what is now Mitchell County in the 1540’s.There is evidence of Spanish mining at the Sink Hole, Clarissa, & Horse Stomp Mines in Mitchell County. DeSoto’s route through the Southeast has been argued over by scholars and historians.
New discoveries have lead us to believe that DeSoto came up the mountains from near present-day Morganton, to Table Rock and Hawksbill Mountains, through the vicinity of Linville Falls and crossed the Toe River near Ingalls – in the vicinity of Bright’s Trace. They then descended toward present day Spruce Pine following the Toe River to mineral rich Mitchell County. Eventually they would follow the Toe/Nolichucky into Tennessee.Another Spanish explorer named Juan Pardo also visited the area in the 1560’s. Much of the mineral wealth of the region was hidden underground and the Spanish never uncovered much of the treasures.Map of DeSoto's expedition