Alonso De Leon

Some of the first systematic explorations of East Texas, conducted by the Spanish between 1686 and 1690, De Leon's five expeditions were spurred by the fear that the French explorer La Salle, who had landed on the Texas coast in 1685, was claiming vast areas of the New World for France. Because Spain and France were bitter rivals, De Leon was directed to find and destroy any signs of the French encroachment.


His first trip, originating in Mexico in 1686, took him to the mouth of the Rio Grande, where he sounded the river's depth and took latitude observations.

On the second expedition, begun in 1687, he crossed the river near present Roma and followed it into the mouth. Very likely his men traveled several miles away from the water to avoid mud, brush and hidden Indians. He proceeded up the coast as far up as "salt river", possibly Olmos Green, which runs into Baffin Bay near the present town of Riviera.


On his three later expeditions, De Leon found and burned the ruins of La Salle's "Fort St. Louis". He also established the first Spanish mission, "San Francisco De Los Tejas."

Stimulated by both of these successes, Spain began her great enterprise of colonizing Texas.

Located 22 miles NW of Brownsville on U. S. 281.

Texas Historic Landmark