Juan Ponce de León was born into Spanish nobility and may have accompanied Christopher Columbus on the 1493 voyage to the New World. Ponce de León governed the eastern province of Hispaniola (now Puerto Rico) when he heard rumors of The Fountain of Youth. He launched an expedition of three vessels on March 27, 1513, and on April 2 due to foul weather, Ponce de León became the first explorer to document a landing on Florida’s coast.
His navigator Anton de Alaminos used an astrolabe to record a noon sighting of the sun and checked against navigation tables established a latitude reading of 30⁰ 8’. This reading is the most scientifically accurate fix for Ponce’s landing place on the Florida coast, placing it just north of the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve’s boundaries.
On April 2, 2013, a statue of Juan Ponce de León was dedicated at GTM Reserve’s Ponce de León 30°8´ Historical Site. This permanent addition to the visitor experience recognizes the only surviving navigational reading of Ponce de León’s “Journey of Discovery,” taken the day prior to his landing on April 3, 1513, when he claimed La Florida for Spain.
The site, slightly south of present-day Ponte Vedra Beach, at the northern border of the Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve, includes an official state historical marker, interpretive signage, and a 15’ statue of Ponce de León gazing over the dunes.
The statue is 6′ tall while its base
Date created: 2013
Dimensions: 19' tall