Hernando County is located near the Tampa Bay area. It was established in 1843 and was named in honor of Spanish explorer, Hernando de Soto, who is also recognized in the name of Fort DeSoto and DeSoto County. Hernando County was briefly renamed Benton County in 1844 after Missouri Senator Thomas Hart Benton, a strong supporter of territorial expansion who aided in the county’s creation, however Benton fell out of favor with the county’s residents later on because of his decision to support the Missouri Compromise and the overall reversal of his stance on slavery, and the County’s name reverted back to Hernando County in 1850. Fort DeSoto was originally established in present-day Hernando County to protect settlers in the area from Native Americans and later became a small community center, trading post, and way station on the route to Tampa. Hernando County originally included a much larger area of west central Florida than it does today, including portions of Alachua, Hillsborough, and Orange Counties and all of present-day Citrus and Pasco Counties. During the Civil War, Hernando County primarily contributed foodstuffs, cotton, and lumber to the Confederacy, and the skirmish between Union raiders and local Confederates known locally as the Brooksville Raid is reenacted annually in the county. Today, Hernando County is known as Florida’s Adventure Coast, and their freshwater rivers and springs, state forests and preserves, and Gulf waters provide opportunities for many land and water adventures for both tourists and residents year-round.