De Soto was the first European known to cross this mighty river which has an ironic tie to his death. He was an ambitious man in search of a certain mineral and a far passage.
Coronado was a Spaniard who was tricked by Native Americans in his quest for the Seven Cities of Gold. Coronado married a Mexican aristocrat for great gain, but he died in obscurity.
Verrazano whose origins are disputed, explored the Atlantic coast of the U.S. and appropriately named modern-day New York. Verrazano was overshadowed by another famous explorer.
Native Americans killed many men of the Panfilo de Narváez expedition. The few who survived resourcefully reached the Island of Doom and became faith healers.
Drake was a jack-of-all-trades and a pirate. He was an English hero but a Spanish enemy, who claimed a North American mass for Great Britain.
Oñate, one of the richest men in his country, explored what became New Mexico. He was reprimanded for cruel treatment and remembered as the last conquistador.
Frenchmen Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet were the first Europeans to explore up the Mississippi River. Marquette was a holy man.
La Salle was a religious man who found himself adrift and destitute before following his brother to North America. He was given a seigneurie and helped colonize Louisiana, while befriending indigenous people.
De Anza had a major influence on the development of a large swath of the United States He defeated one tribe and made an alliance with another.
Vancouver trailblazed the Pacific Northwest for Britain. He nearly collided with another British explorer.
A U.S. president hired Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to find a key trade route. Their remarkable journey serendipitously advanced science.