News of the astounding wealth in South America fired the ambition of other Spanish explorers. Rumors told of seven cities that shimmered with gold to the north of Mexico in a legendary land called abola.
In February 1540, Spanish nobleman Francisco Vasquez de Coronado led an expedition of 336 soldiers and 1,300 Indians northward out of Mexico and into what is today the American Southwest. Guided by a priest named Fray Marcos, the Spanish traveled slowly through the deserts in Arizona.
In June, the half-starved Spanish army reached Hawikuh, an Indian city in what is now New Mexico. But instead of a dazzling city of gold, the Spanish found squat structures built from adobe clay. Worse, the Indians did not welcome the Spanish, but instead shot arrows and hurled stones at their approach.
Coronado was knocked unconscious before the Spanish soldiers seized the village and eagerly feasted on the corn and chickens they found there. The Spanish soon learned that the Seven Cities of Cibola did not exist. Disgusted, Coronado sent Marcos home in disgrace.