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Mission San Luis Keeps Apalachee History Alive

Mission San Luis
Posted at 6:00 PM, Jul 13, 2016

TALLAHASSEE, FL (WTXL) -- The WTXL Road Trip continues in Leon County with a look at the area's earliest known residents, the Apalachee tribe.

Their culture is preserved in living history at Tallahassee's Mission San Luis. It's been registered as a National Historical Landmark since 1960.

The first known exploration of Leon County came in 1539, when Spain's Hernando De Soto arrived in present-day Tallahassee. In the 1600s, Spanish colonization blended in with native civilization.

Mission San Luis originally spanned about 300 acres. Today, 67 acres are left to explore.

"It gives us an idea of how big this area was and how full of life it was," said living history interpreter Luis Moreno. "They were great hunters, they were great builders, they knew how to grow food."

The tribe bonded with the Spaniards through trade -- animal skins for tools -- a relationship spanning 50 years.

The mission showcases a council house, a blacksmith's workplace, a fort and a church, among other features.

The fort was built in 1690 and served as a barracks and armory for the Spaniards to protect themselves from British attacks.

The British did come, but not before the Apalachees destroyed their own fort and abandoned the mission in 1704. It was eventually reconstructed.

Though the tribe dispersed to other parts of the country, its legacy in Leon county remains intact.

Mission San Luis is the first stop in the 2016-17 T.O.U.R. (Tourism is Our Ultimate Resource) Program, which provides free admission at various sites to encourage visitors to explore the area. On Saturday, July 16, the free day at Mission San Luis features weapon activities, living history demonstrations, blacksmithing, period cooking, and make-and-take crafts for children. All ages are admitted for free.

*Next, a Tallahassee family leaves the city to start a traveling petting zoo in Miccosukee.