Pensacola’s first non-native visitors arrived in 1559. The hardscrabble group, led by Spanish conquistador Don Tristan De Luna, included about 1,500 settlers. The town they founded would become the first multi-year European settlement in North America. It would have been the first permanent settlement — a title now enjoyed by St. Augustine — had a hurricane not destroyed it a mere two years later. For the next 456 years, historians and archaeologists searched for the site of Luna’s lost settlement and in 2015 they finally found it.
Tom Garner, an amateur archaeologist, happened upon the discovery while scouting for artifacts at a construction site last fall. Archeologists with the University of West Florida later confirmed the site’s authenticity, uncovering numerous artifacts that they said linked it conclusively to Luna’s failed expedition. It might have taken four centuries to find Luna’s lost settlement, but Pensacolians have always held a special place in their heart for the city’s founding father. If you look closely enough, you can find evidence of him everywhere — even in some pretty unexpected places. Here are our picks.
Plaza de Luna