Where did Ponce de Leon land?

Mar 25, 2013

Five hundred years ago, on April 3rd, 1513, Juan Ponce de Leon stepped ashore on what he thought was an island and claimed it as a possession of Spain.  He named it La Florida because of the colorful plants he saw growing beyond the beach and because it was the Easter season, known in Spain as the Festival of the Flowers.  Legend has it that he was in search of “rejuvenating waters” otherwise known as the Fountain of Youth.  This happened on Florida’s Atlantic Coast.  But exactly where?  Until recently, most history books said it was near what became St. Augustine, the oldest European settlement in North America. Later, some historians decided it was south of there at what is now Ponce Inlet near Daytona Beach.  Or maybe it was beyond that at Melbourne Beach, just above the Treasure Coast.  A historical marker says this is a “more likely landing site.”  Or maybe it was even farther down on Jupiter Island, just below the Treasure Coast.  In January, a mock “trial” was held in DeLand and West Palm Beach to decide the matter.  The jury wound up “hopelessly deadlocked.”   I’m pretty sure that Ponce de Leon did not land at Vero Beach and dine at the Ocean Grill, even though some think the restaurant has been there for 500 years.  For 88.9 FM, this is Paul Janensch.