Geographical description written by Pedro de Castañeda de Nájera who was part of Coronado’s Expedition from 1540-1542
Vital Stats: “The country is a valley between ridges resembling rocky mountains. They plant in holes.”
“The country is spacious and level…no settlements were seen anywhere on these plains.”
“Several lakes were found at intervals; they were round as plates…some fresh and some
“The country is like a bowl…the horizon surrounds him all around…there are no groves of trees except at the rivers.”
“There are paths down into [the rivers] made by cows.”
The accounts of what the landscape in New Spain looked like in the 1540s written by Pedro de Castañeda de Nájera allow historians to gain a clear understanding about the way people at the time were impacted by their surrounding geography.
The first-hand accounts of what the land was like in the 1540s removes all of the guesswork historians would face today. While his writings were not used by anyone at that time in the way they would be used today, they provide important details about how the land itself was used and perceived.
The writings of Pedro de Castañeda de Nájera are all compiled in the book Colonial North America and the Atlantic World: A History in Documents by Brett Rushforth and Paul Mapp. The book features many different primary sources including Nájera’s chronicles, which are a credible source of what life looked like in 1540. Knowing what the landscapes looked like allow scholars to get a better idea of what the expeditions of Coronado looked like, since there is not an exact consensus of the exact route they took in searching for the cities of gold.
Mapp, Paul W., Rushforth, Brett. Colonial North America and the Atlantic World: A History in
Documents. New Jersey, Pearson Prentice Hall, 2009.
Amy Roberts; Augmented Reflections; UCCS.