SPANISH EXPLORATION OF THE KAWEAH RIVER BASIN
The history of an area as small as the approximate four square miles covered by Terminus Reservoir of necessity must be related in terms of the surrounding countryside. Undoubtedly the future reservoir area was traversed by early Spanish expeditions, but such was not detailed by the Spanish diarists.
Don Pedro Fages, Lieutenant of Catelonian Volunteers, was the first white man to penetrate the portion of the Central Valley that is now known as Tulare Lake Basin. He was looking for deserters when he entered the valley from the south by way of Tejón Pass in the fall of 1772. He did not advance into the Kaweah River country, but visited the Indian village called Tulamniu on Buena Vista Lake.
In 1773, Commander Tagus came into the Tulare Lake Basin looking for army deserters. He traveled far and wide in the region and found a large lake that he named Laguna de las Tules, but did not find any deserters.
Missionary explorer Father Garcés was the first to explore into what is now Tulare County. He entered the valley by way of Tejón Pass in 1776 and traveled northerly, possibly as far as the Visalia country. His purpose in exploring this area was to find native converts to Christianity. "Although Father Garcés failed to convert many of the natives, he made a lasting impression upon them because of his kindness and willingness to share their humble hospitality." 
In colonizing California, the Spanish intended that the missions exist as such for about 10 years. After that time, the Spanish believed
Thus, in many areas there was friction between the Spanish and the Indians. Runaway Christian Indians influenced the more unsophisticated Indians of their home and other tribes when they returned to the interior valleys. Many Indians became accomplished horse thieves and occasionally raided for horses. In his report of 1818-1819, Father President Mariano Payeras said "the Tulare Indians are inconstant. Today they come, tomorrow they are gone, not on foot as they came, but on horseback [and] having crossed the Tulare Valley and the mountains that surround it, they kill the horses and eat them." Father Payeras referred to Telame (principal village of the Telamni tribe located immediately to the northeast of present-day Visalia) as "a republic of hell and a diabolical union of apostates." 
Others followed Father Garcés and there were numerous official and unofficial journeys, mostly unrecorded, into the Tulares during the period 1780-1800. In November 1805, Father Juan Martín journeyed into the Tulares because the natives of the region, through neophytes at Mission San Miguel, had expressed a desire that he visit them. Because of a disagreement with the Spanish Governor on establishment of missions in the Tulares, his expedition was without official sanction. Father Martín visited the rancherias of Bubal and Sumtache on Tulare Lake. He had gathered together "no fewer than 200 children" to take back to the mission, but:
A period of active exploration into the interior valleys began in 1806. These expeditions were primarily for discovering potential mission sites, capturing or punishing runaway neophytes, or bringing converts to the Padres of the coastal missions.
The first of these expeditions, which the governor called "civilizing missions," left Mission Santa Barbara on July 19, 1806 under the leadership of Lieutenant Francisco Ruiz and Father é María Zalvidea. This party visited Buena Vista Lake, Tulare Lake, the Kings River country in the vicinity of present-day Kingsburg, and on the 4th of August was in an oak forest in the vicinity of present-day Visalia. The party probably camped in or near what is now Mooney Grove. Father Zalvidea was impressed with the oak grove and believed it would be a suitable mission site.
Gabriel Moraga and Father Pedro Muñoz led an expedition that visited the Kaweah River country in a search for new mission sites. In October 1814, Master Sgt. Don Juan de Ortega and Father Juan Cabot "went to Bubal where... there were 700 souls ripe for missionary harvest.... The party visited Sumtache and then marched across the plains to Rio San Gabriel, which provided a suitable mission site."  Ortega visited the region again in 1815 and explored around present-day Visalia and up Kaweah River to about Lemon Cove. In 1816 Father Luís Antonio Martinez visited Buena Vista Lake, and in 1819 Lieutenant José María Estudillo led a military force into the oak grove near Visalia.
The Moraga-Muñoz expedition of 1806 was one of the most significant to the Kaweah River region because several days were spent in the oak forest near present-day Visalia. This party left Mission San Juan Bautista on the 21st of September 1806. It traveled in land to enter the San Joaquin Valley in the vicinity of San Luis Creek, thence generally north as far as the Calaveras River. From the Calaveras River, the party proceeded south easterly and on October 14-16 was exploring upstream and downstream on the Kings River from a camp in the vicinity of present-day Sanger or Centerville. On October 18th, the 28th day of the expedition, scouts reached the great oak forest in the Kaweah River delta at or near Visalia. Father Muñoz recorded that: 
On the following day:
On the 20th of October:
For the 21st of October, Father Muñoz recorded that:
The Moraga party remained in the vicinity of the oak forest until the 26th of October when it traveled southeasterly to the Tule River and out of the valley by way of Tejón Pass.
The last important expedition of the pioneering period was that of Estudillo. Subsequent expeditions were purely punitive military raids and campaigns against the Indians and it was generally concluded that presidios as well as missions were needed if the San Joaquin River Basin were ever to be colonized. With reference to the lower Kaweah River region, the degradation of the Indian population, which began essentially with the first Spanish contact, is characterized by Cook: 
Last Updated: 08-Sep-2008