Later Spanish Explorations
The western portion of Florida, including the bay called Santa María de Ochuse, was forgotten by Spanish colonial strategists for over a century. In 1686 pilot Juan Jordán de Reina entered Pensacola Bay while searching for a rumored French colony in the Gulf. Natives, who called the place Panzacola, were hospitable, although suffering from recent warfare with tribes at nearby Mobile. Reports of Cavelier de La Salle’s explorations of the Mississippi in 1682 had caused panic in New Spain, prompting a recommendation to the King in 1689, by Captain Andrés de Pez, that Pensacola Bay be occupied to prevent the French from using it as a naval base to threaten Spanish commerce (McGovern 1974:18).
A scientific expedition, led by Pez in 1693, conducted a reconnaissance of the bay, which was renamed Santa María de Galve in honor of the new Viceroy of New Spain. Pez was accompanied by the Creole scientist, Carlos de Siguënza y Góngora, whose map of Pensacola Bay shows details of water depth, landmarks, and sites of native villages encountered by the survey party. Five years after this expedition, a royal decree required that Pensacola be occupied and fortified. A fleet led by pilot Jordán de la Reina, joined by ships of Andrés de Arriola, arrived in November 1698 to establish a presidio garrisoned by soldiers (McGovern 1974:29). A wooden fort with outlying huts, named San Carlos de Austria, was built along the shore at the site of the present-day Naval Air Station, which overlooks the bay entrance. The site’s reddish ravine had been identified as a prominent landmark by the pilots of the Luna expedition over 130 years previously as una barranca vermeja a la banda del Leste abriendo la bahía (Velasco to Philip, September 24, 1559. In Priestly 1928 2:274-275). This feature came to be known as las barrancas by the Spaniards who were stationed at the Pensacola outpost, hence the name of the American fort which occupies the site today.
Figure 3: Spanish map of Siguënza dated 1693 depicts Emanuel Point as Pta. de Vibero (Viper Point).