History of Spanish Lake Fire Protection District

HISTORY OF THE SPANISH LAKE FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT
Incorporated 1953

The Spanish Lake area, in extreme north St. Louis County near the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, was settled some 200 years ago. Originally, Spanish Lake was named Spanish Pond for the Spanish Governor, Zenon Trudeau, and troops connected with Fort San Carlos who liked to fish and relax at the lake. Trudeau's home at Spanish Pond was the center of social activity in the late 1700s. Fort San Carlos was built in 1768 after France, which had assumed sovereignty over this area, ceded the Louisiana Territory to Spain, and was built on the south bank of the Missouri River at the mouth of Coldwater Creek. The fort had been built by the Spanish to keep out the English.

Bellefontaine Road, one of the oldest roads in the county, and formerly one of the few plank roads, provided access to the area. Bellefontaine Plank Road was built from St. Louis to the Spanish Fort San Carlos to accommodate farmers going to market. Produce and livestock were transported over the plank road until the County took over the system and laid "macadem" or rock pavement many years later.

The first settlers around Spanish Lake were mostly French. Between 1832 and 1850, political reasons pressed many Germans to immigrate in large numbers to the area.

After the U.S. acquired the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, Fort San Carlos became Fort Belle Fontaine and was used as a U.S. Army Military Post until it was moved to Jefferson Barracks. In 1836 four buyers bought what was Fort Bellefontaine, and held it until 1913, when the land was bought for the industrial school for boys, known as Missouri Hills. The lake area was purchased by St. Louis County in 1987 and was made into Spanish Lake County Park.

The Village of Spanish Lake developed at the intersection of Bellefontaine and Parker Roads, approximately 1/4 mile from the lake itself. The original village contained a general store, saloon, two blacksmith shops and a Royal Arcanum Hall, a clubhouse for fisherman attracted to the lake.

Because of the war and increasing concerns about fire in the community, it was decided to organize a Civilian Defense and Auxiliary Fire Equipment Committee. At a meeting held in February 1944, by the Committee, it was agreed to accept a portable fire pump offered by the Federal Government. This was contingent upon the understanding that this equipment may be used for the extinguishment of small fires and would be returned to the U.S. Government upon demand.

This was the beginning of the Spanish Lake Fire Department. The chain of events that followed this meeting resulted in the fine equipment and fire stations which every member and resident is justly proud.

In 1953, the people of the area incorporated into a fire protection district and the department became supported by property taxes, thus ending the annual firemen's picnics which provided the support over the years. The first paid firefighters were hired in 1957. The paid force gradually increased to 23 firefighters and the volunteer firefighters were phased out over a period of time.

In 1945, Fire Station #1 was opened at Bellefontaine and Parker Roads. In April 1972, Fire Station #2 was opened on Larimore Road, with one engine company, to serve the east end of the district. In May 1999, an Administration Building was constructed on a site next to Fire Station #2 to house the administration offices, and today the Spanish Lake Fire District serves some 24,000 residents within its 19 square mile area. We salute all the men and women who devoted their untiring effort and time in organizing the beginnings of the Spanish Lake Fire Protection District, and those who have served since then, both on the Board of Directors and as firefighters.