Spanish Fork is located about nine miles south of Provo. The city is built upon three alluvial fans formed by the Spanish Fork River. The Franciscan Friars Sivestre Valez de Escalante and Francisco Atanasio de Dominguez were some of the first explorers to pass through the Spanish Fork area. They were in quest of a direct route from Santa Fe, New Mexico to Monterey, California. After traveling down Spanish Fork Canyon they camped near the present day city limits on September 23, 1776.
Many years later the name "Spanish Fork" appeared on John C. Fremont's map of the area in 1845. In all likelihood, the name "Spanish Fork" was derived from the fact that the route of the Taos trappers during the early part of the 1800's followed the river. The indigenous population of Spanish Fork was composed of members of the Ute Indian tribe. They had no permanent villages due to their nomadic culture. Because these Indians ate so many fish, they were also known as the "water Indians" by Spanish Explorers. Two years later, the first Mormon settlers arrived.
In 1850 the first home was located in Spanish Fork and others soon followed. In 1854 the early settlers built a fort for protection from the Indians called Fort Saint Luke. Icelandic immigrants also settled in this area between 1855 and 1860. These pioneers established the first permanent Icelandic settlement in the United States, of which a strong heritage still exists. The first sign of commercial industry, a sawmill, was established in 1858 by Archibald Gardner. He also built the first flour mill, which began operation in 1859. Later in 1884 the Spanish Fork Foundry turned out great quantities of iron and brass castings. While the principal industry of Spanish Fork has always been farming, the city has also become a primary livestock center.
Spanish Fork is a community that strives to maintain a high quality of life. The city is dedicated to providing an outstanding environment for working, recreating, and simply enjoying life. The city government is a Council-Manager form consisting of a part-time mayor and five part-time city council members. There is a publicly appointed full-time city manager who administers the operation of the City and its employees.
The community celebrates Spanish Fork Fiesta Days & Rodeo each July, complete with fireworks, parades, dances, sporting events, contests, llamas, bull riding, and more. Spanish Fork Fair Grounds is home to the Utah County Fair, which is held in August each year. During the holiday season, Spanish Fork lights up with their Festival of Lights located at the mouth of Spanish Fork Canyon.
(Information courtesy Spanish Fork, Utah History Encyclopedia, UVEDA)