An 1857 map attributed to Johann Georg Kohl showing where Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo traveled is available on the Library of Congress website. It is called "A Map Showing the Progress of Discovery on the West Coast of the U.S. and Vancouver Island," and it gives Juan Cabrillo's name as Joao Rodriguez Cabrilho.Continue Reading
According to the San Diego History Center, little is known of Cabrillo's early life. Though he may have been of Portuguese origin, he fought with Cortez as a Spanish conquistador in the conquest of Mexico and Guatemala. Afterwards, he settled on the Pacific Coast of Guatemala and raised a family.
In 1542, Cabrillo led the first voyage to explore the California coast. Sailing from Navidad, Mexico, with three ships, he reached San Diego Bay after three months. Cabrillo named the place San Miguel, and it was only renamed San Diego 60 years later. Six days after landing in San Miguel, he continued farther north, exploring Santa Cruz, Catalina and San Clemente. It is not known exactly how far north he managed to travel, but he may have made it as far as the coast of Oregon. The expedition wintered in the Channel Islands. During a skirmish with natives in January 1543, Cabrillo fell, shattered a limb and died of complications caused by the injury.Learn more about Maps & Cartography