Father Silvestre Velez de Escalante (1750-1780)
Silvestre Velez de Escalante was born in 1750 in Trenceño, Spain. He joined the Franciscan Order and traveled to Mexico when he was 17 years old. He and Father Francisco Atanasio Domínguez attempted to find a route from Santa Fe, New Mexico to Monterey, California by heading northwest from Santa Fe. Their journey began on July 29, 1776 and took them up into present day Utah, making them the first white men to see Utah. After crossing the Green River they turned west and entered present day Utah Valley near where Spanish Fork is now. They did not go as far as the Great Salt Lake, but they heard of it from the Native Americans they visited with. They headed back in October and perhaps would have perished of exposure and lack of food had it not been for the Paiute Indians. They arrived back in Santa Fe on January 2, 1777. Father Escalante kept a diary and made a map of their journey, both of which have been preserved.