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1681 French Map

In 1686, when the colony's last ship was wrecked, cutting them off from resupply by the French colonies in the Caribbean, La Salle repeatedly traveled east on foot to find the French settlements along the upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. His last trek for help ended along the Brazos River near Quintana in early 1687, where La Salle and five of his men were murdered during a mutiny.

As a coda for La Salle's adventures, the Spanish, upon learning of his Texas colony and fearing the threat to its own Gulf Coast claims, sent expeditions to locate and eliminate the settlement. When the Spanish finally discovered the remains of the fort in 1689, they buried the cannons and burned the buildings. Years later, they would build a presidio at the same location. In 1995, researchers uncovered La Salle's ship, the La Belle, in Matagorda Bay, with several sections of the hull remaining virtually intact. Ft. St. Louis was rediscovered in 1996, and the area is now an archaeological site. Excavations in 2000 found three of the original structures as well as graves of three French colonists

During Spain's influence in southwestern North America, the French also had designs on the Gulf Coast. The Claude Bernou Carte de l'Amerique septentrionale map was the product of the explorations of René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle. After several expeditions from the north, down the Mississippi River, LaSalle established the first French colony in Texas

with the building of a fort (Ft. St. Louis) near Arenosa Creek and Matagorda Bay in 1685. He had originally intended to locate this settlement at the mouth of the Mississippi River, but the poor maps he had available and several navigational errors resulted in a landfall 400 miles to the west. The colony survived only three years, after it was beset by Native American raids, epidemics and extremely harsh weather. La Salle continued to lead expeditions to locate the Mississippi, but was ultimately unsuccessful. During these journeys, he explored much of the Rio Grande River area and parts of east Texas.