Spanish Fork

In 1776, the area that would later become known as Utah Valley was visited by two Franciscan friars from Spain - Silvestre Vélez de Escalante and Francisco Atanasio Domínguez - who were attempting to locate a new route from Santa Fe, New Mexico to the missions of California. They named the Valley and Lake of our Lady of Mercy of the Timpanogotzis, and spent four days meeting with Yuta Timpanogotzis Indians teaching about Christianity. This Spanish expedition would later lend its name to the Spanish Fork River.

In 1851, Mormon pioneers led by William Pace arrived and established two communities: Upper Settlement, which soon became Spanish Fork, and Lower Settlement, which was initially larger and in 1852 became Palmyra. In response to the Walker War in 1853, a fort was built at Spanish Fork in 1854 and on January 17, 1855 the City of Spanish Fork was incorporated. Soon Icelandic immigrants arrived, forming the first permanent Icelandic settlement in the United States. A sawmill was built in 1858, and a flour mill the following year.

By 1860, Spanish Fork's population exceeded 1000, and in 1862 the first school was completed. By the turn of the century, the population more than tripled. In 1909, a light and power system was established and connected to a government power plant the following year. In 1916, Spanish Fork gained another boost when a large sugar mill was built. In subsequent decades, Spanish Fork continued to thrive, especially in the later part of the 20th century when cities to the north began to experience significant growth. Today, around 40,000 people live in Spanish Fork, and a handful of historic homes and buildings remain in the heart of town.