Hadley Meares has written a fairly extensive profile of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo on KCET’s SoCal Wanderer website of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, leader of the first European expedition known to have set foot in California.
Judging by the statue of the man overlooking San Diego harbor at Cabrillo National Monument, you’d think his story would be well documented. But, according to Meares’ account of his life, there’s a lot we don’t know.
This strapping male representation overlooks the breathtaking natural harbor many believe was the one Cabrillo and his men claimed for the kingdom of Spain on September 28, 1542. Like so many other details about Cabrillo, his personal life and famous voyage are long on legend and short on facts. Like so many other details about Cabrillo’s personal life and famous voyage are long on legend and short on facts.
Still, Meares cobbles together an intriguing timeline of Cabrillo’s life, even if his birth and his death remain hidden in the fog of time.
It’s worth a read, if for nothing else to learn the origins of the name California and a bit about the native Kumeyaay people who Cabrillo and his men encountered during their exploits.