ReefNews Geography:
Did Columbus Land On Grand Turk?


Christopher Columbus Landfall National Park, Grand Turk

In 1492, Christopher Columbus landed in the New World. Although Columbus wasn't the first person to visit North America (Indians had lived there for centuries, and even Vikings from northern Europe had visited the "New World"), he certainly was the first European to visit North American in a long time. His "discovery" led the way for many other Europeans to cross the Atlantic.

But where did Columbus land? Columbus wasn't sure, since he'd never been there before. His logbook described landing on a bean-shaped island that had several small islands nearby, to the south and east. Grand Turk certainly fits that description. Even today, archeologists aren't certain where Columbus landed. Some scientists believe Grand Turk was the place. Other scientists think San Salvador in the Bahamas was the place. Maybe someday you'll be to one that will discover the clue that will tell us for sure.

One of Columbus's ships, the Niña, was shipwrecked on his historic voyage. There happens to be a shipwreck on Molasses Reef, about 50 miles west of Grand Turk (see the map on ReefNews's Grand Turk web page) that fits the description of the Niña. Is that shipwreck the Niña? Scientists started to uncover the wreckage in the 1990s to try to figure out if it is that famous ship. If if is, do you think that makes it even more likely that Grand Turk is the site of Columbus's landfall?

This photo shows a national park on the island of Grand Turk that is set aside to commemorate Columbus's historic landing. The park is near the center Cockburn Town, on the west coast of Grand Turk.

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